Shave Ice is just as synonymous with Hawaii as Waikiki Beach. Everyone knows of Matsumoto Shave Ice on the North Shore, it's probably the most famous Shave Ice shop in the world. Everyone's seen Waiola Shave Ice from Hawaii 5-0, it might undeniablely be the smoothest Shave Ice in the state. But none of that make them the best. That title subjectively, or dare I even say objectively, belongs to Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha.
So how do you back up such a bold claim that will surely send the Shave Ice connoisseurs after me. It's simple. While Matsumoto's, Aoki's, Waiola, etc. all stick to traditional syrups and toppings like snow cap, ice cream, and maybe some cream flavored syrups, Uncle Clay's is pushing the envolepe. Don't get me wrong, the other places are good, but their syrups taste like, well, syrup. High fructose syrup that comes out of a plastic jug. But Uncle Clay's is different. If you order guava, it tastes like they've just poured Hawaiian Sun Juice over your Shave Ice and sweetened it in some natural way even further. Simply put, it's amazing. It's the only place where you'll order lilikoi and it tastes like an actual lilikoi.
So let's talk flavors. My favorite flavors are without a doubt going to be guava, lilikoi, and pineapple. They're not overly sweet, they taste like the actual fruits and it's just refreshing. But this place is known for their specials. Classic Rainbow is the first image above, followed by Hawaiian Superman, and Strawberry Dream. With the classic rainbow you're getting all of my favorite flavors topped with vanilla bean ice cream and fresh pineapple and strawberries. With the Hawaiian Superman you're getting strawberry and li hing mui, but it's not store bought li hing mui. It's all natural li hing mui that doesn't have that strong bite of store bought powder. It's easy on the palate and has a smooth and natural flavor that's not overpowering in any way at all. Lastly, that Strawberry Dream. It's creamy but it's not like a condensed milk snowcap at your typical shave ice shop. I can't even find the words to describe the creaminess of the Strawberry Dream, and that's why it's probably one of the best sellers here.
Three words. Shave Ice Sandwich. Ice cream scoop on the bottom, shave ice on top, not here. It's shave ice on top, ice cream in the middle, shave ice on the bottom. Pure genius. On this day it was ice cream on the top for Kellene and I but either way, it tastes so much better when you're not digging to the bottom as fast as humanly possible to get to that dairy goodness.
Clearly, the shave ice smells good too. Maybe it's the fresh fruit, maybe its the natural ingredients that goes into their syrups. Regardless of what was smelling good, Kellene's nose wanted a taste too.
So how does a small shop like this resonate with everyone that visits? It's simple and it's written on the walls, literally. As you walk in you'll notice a promise framed on the wall. A simple yet powerful message that spreading aloha is about spreading the love in your heart to everyone in your life. Whether it be the person you say hello to on the street as you walk off in different directions, all the way up to the loved ones you come home to at night. It's a promise to live by and it's felt in the shave ice they sell here. Everything is created with passion and everything is served with love.
Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha isn't just about the shave ice, it's about the atmosphere that Uncle Clay and his nephew, Bronson has created. It's not a place to run in and run out of. Expect to spend a little time here, slow down for a moment, and converse with Uncle Clay. If you're shy about saying hello don't you worry, the moment you make eye contact with him, that warm smile will come out and he'll be saying hello to you any minute.