Kaua’i Shave Ice Review #4: Wailua Shave Ice

Wailua Shave Ice's little red trailer is located on the makai (ocean) side of Kuhio Highway in Kapaa, on a vacant lot between two storefronts.
Wailua Shave Ice’s little red trailer is located on the makai (ocean) side of Kuhio Highway in Kapaa, on a vacant lot between two storefronts.

Blink as you drive by, and you might miss the little red trailer tucked between two storefronts in Old Kapaa Town. If you do, you’ll be missing out on some very, very tasty and refreshing shave ice.

The staff at Wailua Shave Ice is super friendly!
The staff at Wailua Shave Ice is super friendly!

Wailua Shave Ice’s offerings are huge, all made with natural syrups, and come in some unique flavor combinations. Although WenYu and YaYu had sampled their offerings before, our visit last month before taking WenYu back to college was the first time for both Brett and I. We loved every bite and vowed to come back again.

The shave ice menu - all cost just $6.50
The shave ice menu – all cost just $6.50

On this visit I ordered a Lava Flow (pineapple, coconut & strawberry), Brett and WenYu each had a Kauai Orange Dream (orange & coconut milk topped with haupia foam), and YaYu tried a Wailua Sunrise (pineapple & orange). There’s a generous amount of seating in back, and although there were others waiting in line, it didn’t take long for our order to come up. Because Wailua Shave Ice does not come with ice cream, I was very surprised by how big the servings were. All shave ice at Wailua Shave Ice, no matter the flavor, costs just $6.50, a very reasonable price considering how much you get. Each shave ice is also topped with fresh fruit (or crushed Oreo on a Cookies & Cream shave ice, or chocolate sauce and toasted coconut on the Almond Joy shave ice). You can ask for a snow cap, but many of the recipes come topped with haupia (coconut milk gelatin) or coconut milk foam, so ordering a snow cap might be sort of redundant for those flavors.

Looking inside a Kauai Orange Dream - you can see how huge the serving is!
Inside a Kauai Orange Dream – you can see how huge the serving is, and how fluffy the ice is! All the serving cups are recyclable paper.
The Lava Flow. The cap on top is made with coconut milk
The Lava Flow. The cap on top is made with coconut milk.  The straw is so you don’t miss out on a single drop.
YaYu's Wailua xx. It looks plain, but was VERY tasty. Wailua Shave Ice natural syrups are DELICIOUS!
YaYu’s Wailua Sunrise. It looks plain, but the flavors were very rich and tasty. Wailua Shave Ice’s natural syrups are DELICIOUS!

WenYu and YaYu enjoyed their shave ice from Wailua so much they went back again the next day for another. Brett and I’ll be going again too – Wailua Shave Ice has earned a spot near the top of our favorite’s list.

YaYu ordered a Cookies & Cream shave ice when she went back.
YaYu ordered the Cookies & Cream flavor when she went back.

Wailua Shave Ice is located at 04-1306 Kuhio Highway in Kapaa. They’re open daily from noon until 5:30 p.m. and accept debit and credit cards. Parking is available on the street or in back.

Kaua’i Shave Ice Review #3: Wishing Well Shave Ice

Always long lines at Wishing Well Shave Ice
Always long lines at Wishing Well Shave Ice

Wishing Well Shave Ice, located in Hanalei on the north shore, may be Kauai’s most well-known shave ice vendor. It at least has had the most famous customers – there used to be a board posted out front where celebrities visiting Kaua’i who stopped by for a shave ice signed their name (including Ben Stiller, Pierce Brosnan, Robert Downey, Jr. and more). There were no famous people in line the day Brett and the girls stopped by, but as you can see from the long line, it’s still a very popular place. Brett and the girls stopped at the little white truck on their way home from their Kalalau Trail hike last week.

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The menu board
The menu board

Wishing Well has a fairly extensive menu, and offers both their own flavor combinations as well as allowing you to mix traditional and homemade flavors (only two though). Their traditional flavor shave ice also is available in three sizes, keiki (kid), small or large. The first time we visited, with friends Todd and Laurie, we were warned that the women who worked in the van liked the orders to be made in a particular way: size first, then ice cream flavor, and finally the shave ice flavors . . . or else. The women were known to get surly if you did it wrong. The girls and Brett said there were no such issues this time with the young people working inside.

The girls' selections
Good advice when you’re on Kaua’i

Wishing Well offers both traditional syrups as well as homemade organic syrups. Shave ice made with traditional syrups are priced according to size: keiki is $4.00, small is $4.50 and large is $6.00. Ice cream (either macadamia nut or vanilla) can be added for $2.00 more, and a snow cap adds another $1.00 to your order. Shave ice made with homemade syrups come in two sizes: keiki ($6.00) and regular ($8.00), and ice cream is still $2.00 extra, but toppings are included. Wishing Well’s combos are each priced differently, from $8.00 to $11.00, but some include a special ice cream flavor and toppings as well. Wishing Well also sells acai bowls and coffee, and they accept debit and credit cards.

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WenYu’s mango & lychee shave ice

WenYu wanted  green tea shave ice again, but they were out of the syrup so she instead ordered a small traditional mango and lychee combo over macadamia ice cream with a snow cap, and said it was delicious. YaYu ordered a lemon-lime combo over vanilla ice cream with a snow cap, but thought the syrups tasted a bit weird and said she wouldn’t order it again. Both agreed the ice was nice and fluffy though. Brett ordered the Caffeine Monkey combo, macadamia nut ice cream with coffee and banana shave ice and topped with fresh banana slices, a refreshing combo after a hot day on the trail.

The Caffeine Monkey
The Caffeine Monkey

In our family’s opinion, Wishing Well Shave Ice is well worth the stop if you’re visiting the north shore (maybe avoid the lemon/lime combo though). It’s a bit expensive as far a shave ice goes, but great for a special treat. And, you never know who you might run into!

Kaua’i Shave Ice Review #2: Tege Tege Shave Ice

IMG_3769Tege Tege is the new kid in town when it comes to shave ice, or at least the new kid in the town of Kapa’a, on the east side of the island. Apparently Tege Tege has been operating up in Kilauea on the north shore for a couple of years, but a couple of months ago their truck showed up on the north end of Kapa’a, right next to Otsuka’s furniture store. We’ve never seen them without a line at their window.

Strawberry shave ice from Tege Tege
Strawberry shave ice from Tege Tege

While I was getting my hair cut yesterday, Brett took the girls to give Tege Tege a try. Brett selected a coconut shave ice, YaYu chose strawberry, and WenYu picked green tea. They also picked up an extra green tea shave ice for me (without the snow cap).

The ice shaver comes from Japan
The hand-operated ice shaver comes from Japan

Tege Tege’s ice is hand shaved using a special Japanese machine which creates extremely fluffy ice with an almost creamy texture. Organic fruit syrups are added several times along the way as the cup is filled with ice, ensuring each bite is full of exquisite flavor. Each shave ice receives a complementary snow cap, and with the exception of three flavors (grapefruit, lime and gooseberry) each icy confection is topped off with fresh, organic fruit. Instead of fruit, a green tea shave ice receives a generous helping of anko, sweet red (azuki) beans, the traditional accompaniment to green tea flavor in Japan.

The Tege Tege menu
The Tege Tege menu

All this quality and craftsmanship comes at a price though. Regular flavors are $7 each; green tea is $8.50. Ice cream is an additional $2.00 (we skipped the ice cream). Tege Tege only offers eight flavors, but finished product is big, and the shave ice is dessert quality and very filling.

Green tea shave ice
Green tea shave ice with anko

The Tege Tege trailer is within walking distance of our house, so I’m sure we’ll be going back one of these days. The cost is pretty high for shave ice, but the quality is several steps above what we’ve had elsewhere. The presentation is beautiful, the flavors unbelievably rich, and the texture amazingly creamy. In our opinion, Tege Tege is well worth a splurge once in a while!

Kaua’i Shave Ice Review #1: Ono Ono Shave Ice

The girls and I decided to give ourselves a little challenge this summer: review as many shave ice vendors on Kaua’i as possible and see which one we liked the best. Tough work, I know.

Ono Ono Shave Ice Stand
Ono Ono Shave Ice Stand

Shave ice (NOT ‘shaved’ ice) is the quintessential Hawaiian treat. Unlike a snow cone, where ice is crushed, with shave ice the ice is actually shaved, creating a fluffy, snow-like consistency. The sharper the blade, the fluffier the ice. As a result, a shave ice is much bigger than a snow cone, and you eat it with a spoon.

Flow chart for upgrading your shave ice
Ono Ono’s flow chart for upgrading your shave ice

There are different ways you can upgrade your shave ice. You can ask for ice cream on the bottom – vanilla or macadamia nut are the most common flavors. Sometimes the ice cream is included in the price, other times you have to ask for it. Most shave ice vendors will allow up to four different flavors at no extra cost, and there’s plenty of room for them. If you really want to go all the way, you can ask for a ‘snow cap’ – sweetened condensed milk (sometimes flavored) is added over the top. Locals often ask for li hing mui (dried Chinese plum) powder as well, but it’s an acquired taste.

So refreshing on a hot day!
So refreshing on a hot day! The girls’ (in front) have ice cream underneath the ice, mine (in back) doesn’t.

We began our Summer Shave Ice Challenge at Ono Ono Shave Ice in Kapaa Old Town, one of the girls’ favorite places for this treat. Ono Ono only serves one size of shave ice: BIG. The ice they hand you is easily five inches across, and just as tall or taller. They have loads of flavors, and a nice menu of special flavor-combo options. I ordered the Kaua’i Sunrise: mango, pineapple, passionfruit and coconut syrups, and Brett got the Rainbow: vanilla, pineapple and strawberry. The girls ordered their own flavor combos, with vanilla ice cream on the bottom (they forgot to ask for the snow cap). Ono Ono’s price is right too – $3.50 for a basic shave ice, with added vanilla or macadamia nut ice cream only $1.00 more. Snow caps are free. On the down side, they don’t offer any natural flavor syrups, and according to the girls, their shave ice is not the most aesthetically appealing either. Ono Ono also serves halo-halo shave ice, a Filipino variation made with evaporated milk and other various ingredients. It’s served in a tall glass versus a cup.

Brett's rainbow shave ice from Ono Ono's - you can see how big they are!
Brett’s rainbow shave ice from Ono Ono’s – you can see how big they are, even without ice cream underneath.

Ono in Hawaiian means ‘delicious.’ We’re pretty sure the first Ono in the name refers to the Ono family that runs the restaurant next door, but it could just as well mean ‘doubly delicious’ shave ice. They are!