Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice
525 Kapahulu Ave
One of the several pre-trip, researched spots on my food adventures in Hawaii was Waiola. It was also noted by someone I know who has a residence in Honolulu that it was along the same road as some others I’d asked him about, so as far as location went, it was perfect.
In a pretty run down looking building, complete with some garish plastic banners and graffiti, Waiola is mainly about the shave ice desserts. Nothing more refreshing on a hot summer Hawaiian day. A few other customers came in while we were there, along with a delivery guy who brought in huge cubes of solid ice.
Stepping inside does nothing to improve the sense of it having a dated and in need of a refresh design. But this is part of the appeal of the place, knowing that despite its popularity and well known name, they haven’t plugged the money into expensive furnishings or makeovers. At the same time, they’re not avert to plastering the joint with pages from various media publications that have reviewed or profiled the place.
With anywhere from thirty to forty toppings and flavors, Waiola can probably meet any craving you have for a tasty shave ice. With its distinct soft, fine shavings, I tell you they are addictive. And you get none of that dreaded “brain freeze” from say a more liquidly-ice concoction. We tried a trio of flavors. Pictured above, the adzuki (Japanese sweet bean) and mochi (Japanese rice cake balls) combination. Easily the version among the three we ordered with the most interesting textures with each bite, and the sweetness was not too strong.
In comparison, this pineapple-flavored very basic shave ice was cleaner in taste profile and probably more refreshing as there was less to have to chew. The fine shavings once again proved to be excellent – and I enjoyed this one more than the one I had at Island Freeze days earlier, thus confirming that Waiola is one of the best shave ice joints on the island.
Lastly, another Japanese-influenced flavoring in the matcha with mochi provided yet another twist. Almost like a blended coffee-like drink as the flavoring was “heavier” than just the pineapple syrup of the other dish above.
So as you can see, this was just a sample of a few varieties of shave ice to be had at Waiola. I’m sure there are many more interesting combinations to choose from, and perhaps if you make a visit, you can try them out for yourself. If there are any readers who have any recommendations, please do leave them in our comment box for this post!