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Matsumoto’s or Aoki’s Shave Ice in Haleiwa – Hawaii’s North Shore Battle of Taste, Style and Aloha

After a couple of hours of surfing at the North Shore, I’m slightly burnt, dehydrated and hungry.  But being that I’m just a few miles from home, all I need is something to get me though.  What’s the perfect call; Hawaiian style Shave Ice.  But where to stop?  There in-lies the battle of the Haleiwa North Shore Shave Ice hot -spots; Matsumoto’s or Aoki’s.

Of course, heading past the famous Haleiwa bridge heading into Haleiwa-town, the first Shave Ice stop is Matsumoto’s and it’s PACKED!  Line out the door with bussed in tourists with huge smiles on their faces patiently awaiting the North Shore Shave Ice experience.  On the benches just outside the store are people balancing their shave ice and laughing at each others stained-colored tongues and shirts from their plastic cones.  Good times but long ass lines and dodging the visitors as they run across Kamehameha Hwy.  Jam-up!

Then about 200 yards up the road is the locally infamous Aoki’s Shave Ice stop.  Most of the time it has a line too but always half the length and a noticeable population of mostly local people.   That’s where I end up almost 90% of the time.  I see my friends and extended Ohana from all side of the islands at Aoki’s if I sit there long enough.  Most of my friends who surf with me always call out Aoki’s as the spot for talk-story about our surf session.  Even though  Aoki’s is half the size of Matsumoto’s store yet it still has the same Shave Ice output, it’s mind-numbing how mellow the lines are. Why?

But the real question is, is one better than the other?  I guess you have to be the judge of that but I will say that if you type in a Google search Matsumoto’s Shave Ice or Aoki’s Shave Ice you can see a massive difference in opinion between the two.  For me, the Shave Ice experience at Aoki’s has personality and embedded in its service is local Ohana styled Aloha with their Shave Ice.  However, I would like to see Aoki’s take some time to deal with their “trash out front” set-up.  I have watched people get close to Aoki’s for Shave Ice but turn around in fear of getting stung by a yellow-jacket hornet.

As for Matsumoto’s, I haven’t had a bad experience there, but I will say one thing, I’m just not down for waiting in a line like that.  It’s my opinion that these two Shave Ice stops have their market-share nailed.  Matsumoto’s is heavily branded in the tourism sector where Aoki’s is all about the Aloha of the islands.  That’s why these two Shave Ice power-houses will stand strong despite the proximity to each other.

What do you think?  What separates Aoki’s from Matsumoto’s shave ice?

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