I grew up on Oahu and now live on the east coast. My family and I make a month long visit every summer to be with our family and friends as well as to take care of all the cravings for local foods and treats.
A word about Shaved Ice. It is a must do for the true local experience. We have been eating it since we were kids and its a great refreshing alternative to straight ice cream. You can get it just about anywhere, but not all are created equal.
I am a traditionalist, so Matsumoto's in Haleiwa is the standard and still remains my favorite for flavor and experience and is an annual part of our trip. However, this years added stop to Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha was a fun and delicious treat! It is a small shop in a strip mall in Aina Haina on the east side of Oahu. Its on your way to Hanauma Bay and Sea Life Park.
The shaved ice here is like snow. They have many of the same "extras" that have become very popular over the last several years as add-ons to the cold treat (mochi balls, condensed milk, ice cream). The difference here is the quality of the ingredients. The syrup is made with real fruit. Seeds can been seen in the strawberry, and my niece stated it was like biting into a fresh fruit! The mochi balls are home made. The day I was there they had chocolate coco mac ice cream in addition to Tahitian Vanilla. Alas, with all good ingredients, when they run out, they run out until they can make more. That was the case with some of the ingredients that day. The store may not have the variety of flavors you might find in other places, but what they do have will meet most peoples desire for either traditional or exotic flavors.
Lastly, you can't beat "Uncle Clay"! He was there ringing people up the Sunday afternoon we stopped in. He is warm and loves to chat you up and find out where you are from or test your Hawaiian language skills as he did with my niece. Full of Aloha and respect for his customers as well as the quality of his treats. This place is a great representation of a local business! Well worth the trip. HOPA!!!
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