If you live in Hawaii then you basically know that there are three shave ice spots that matter, Aoki’s, Matsumoto’s and Waiola’s. Both Aoki’s and Matsumoto’s are located in Haleiwa, in fact they are just a couple of feet from one another. Between Aoki’s and Matsumoto’s, I have to say that I prefer the taste of Matsumoto’s over Aoki’s any day.Â
So given my preference for Matsumoto’s. I was perturbed when a friend had said that Waiola’s was superiorÂ to Matsumoto’s shave ice. I was skeptical. Although having heard of Waiola’s on many a occasion, I myself had never tasted their shave ice. You can’t blame me, I live on the west side of the island. And when you want shave ice, you always head to the north shore. The question begged, how could anything be better than Matsumoto’s? Impossible. I had to check out this Waiola’s.Â
On a rather impromptu occasion, I paid a visited to Waiola’s shave ice on Kapahulu Avenue. Already, I began anticipating the disappointment ahead. Alas, after searching for parking, I finally made it to Waiola’s. Would Waiola’s reign supreme over Matsumoto’s gold standard? Turns out, my prediction had come true. Total disappointment! And so I present to you 9 reasons why Matsumoto’s not only dominates over Waiola’s in terms of taste but in every other aspect as well.Â
- Parking. Ample parking at Matsumoto’s vs. Hard to find street parking at Waiola’s
- Setting. Come on now, how can you even compare Kapahulu Ave. to Historic Haleiwa Town? As you sit and indulge in your shave ice at Matsumoto’s you see the rustic Hawaii of yesteryear.Â As you sit and indulge in your shave ice at Waiola’s you see a freakin’ golf course!
- Simplicity. At Matsumoto’s you get your shave ice how it should be. Ice, syrup and optional vanilla ice cream and sweet azuki beans. At Waiola’s you’re flooded with un-appetizing options like chocolate syrup? Chocolate syrup on shave ice is blasphemy. Sometimes the best kind of shave ice is the kind where you don’t have to try too hard to make it look good. Mochi balls on my shave ice? I’ll pass.Â
- Price. Matsumoto’s beats Waiola’s yet again. Compare the size differences as well, above left you see a small size Matsumoto serving, and to the right you see me holding a Waiola’s tiny large sized serving!
- Line. A line (or queue if your British), is a good indicator of a quality product. At Matsumoto’s there is always a line of people that forms outside of the store. During my visit to Waiola’s, there were three unassuming customers in front of me.Â
- Taste. The flavor comes from the syrup-ey goodness poured on the shave ice. At Waiola’s you can get a Rainbow (three set flavors) or choose two flavors of your choosing. At Matsumoto’s everything is fair game. I don’t need to pay extra for a third or fourth flavor. My personal favorite flavors at Matsumoto’s are Lilikoi, Pineapple and Melona!
- Ice. Generic shave ice (or snow cones in the mainland) have ice that is quite rough in texture. Premium shave ice like that served at Aoki’s, Waiola’s and Matsumoto’s are known for the finely shaved ice particles. And although Waiola’s shave ice was very finely shaven, I found that it was too finely shaven. Matsumoto’s have perfected the art of shaving ice. Shaving the ice fine enough as not to go over the edge. You have to experience it to know what I am talking about.Â
- Speed. Although the wait due to the line is longer at Matsumoto’s, the speed at which the shave ice is made is far faster than Waiola’s. You get the feeling that they know what they are doing when you’re at Matsumoto’s!Â
- Bees. Science knows that bee’s love to nibble on sweet sugary goodness. So it makes sense that you’ll always find those harmless honeybees’s buzzing about the outskirts of Matsumoto’s. They want the good stuff that you’re enjoying! I spotted zero bees at Waiola’s. Zilch.Â
So that’s it. In head-to-head competition (or should I say ice-to-ice), Matsumoto’s shave ice is the better shave ice. It simply can’t be beat. Bee’s don’t lie.Â
Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-087 Kamehameha Hwy
Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712
Waiola Bakery and Shave Ice II
525 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815