Sign up for news and special offers from Dining Out
Lite Bites
Lite Bites

A Shave Ice Wonderland

By Yu Shing Ting Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
July 29, 2012

See more articles from

Shave ice is not new in Hawaii. In fact it could be considered the state dessert. But in recent years, Taiwanese-style shave ice, which has been around for a long time in Asia, has been making its way across the Pacific Ocean and gaining popularity all across the country, including here in the Islands.

If you’ve never tried this mountainous mouth-watering treat, you’re definitely missing out.

It’s similar to regular shave ice, but the ice is usually fluffier, almost snow-like, and the best part are the endless toppings you can add to it, including my personal favorites mochi balls and condensed milk.

At Ice Forest in Downtown Honolulu, which opened earlier this year, you can find a great selection of Taiwanese-style shave ice with a local touch. Owner Andrew Huang, a 1989 graduate of Moanalua High School, offers classic Rainbow Shave Ice ($2.50 bowl, $3.50 cone, and up to three flavors — banana, coffee, lihing mui, lilikoi, mai tai, melona, pina colada, root beer, vanilla, coconut, guava, lemon lime, lychee, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberry and watermelon), Signature Shave Ice, Snow Ice, as well as Cold-Pressed Iced Coffee, Granita, Fruit Smoothies and Italian Soda.

The most popular menu items are Rainbow Shave Ice with Mochi Balls, Ice Cream and Condensed Milk ($5), Azuki with Mochi Balls and Condensed Milk Shave Ice ($5.75) and Original Custard with Mochi Balls Shave Ice ($5). You also can design your own shave ice by choosing one or more main toppings (azuki, mochi balls, real-coffee custard, taro or original custard), up to three shave ice flavors, and then additional toppings (such as condensed milk, green tea ice cream, vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, grass jelly, honeydew jam, lychee jelly, lychee pop, mango jam, mix-fruit jelly, nata de coco, passion fruit pop, strawberry jam and strawberry pop).

Huang worked as a computer product manager in Shanghai before moving back to Hawaii to raise his two young children with wife Tomoko. Ice Forest is located inside Alakea Market, Huang’s parents’ business, which has been in Downtown for almost 30 years. Street parking is available on Merchant Street and at the open lot near the U.S. Post Office just a block away.

“I wanted to raise my family in Hawaii,” says Huang. “And I like shave ice.”

Ice Forest

202 Merchant St., Honolulu
383.1824
Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 12:30-4:30 p.m.