Only the very early or the very lucky arrive acquire a Matsumoto’s shave ice without standing in a line that stretches out the door, bumping into tourists snapping pictures of the store’s yellow sign. Debate rages as to who has the best shave ice on O’ahu, or even here on the North Shore, but Matsumoto’s has the history (shave ice has been sold at this store for 60 years) and the fame–hence the line.
The ice—while allegedly courser than that of Aoki’s next door—is finely ground and covered with brightly colored homemade syrups. Multiple flavors on offer range from the exotic Li Hing Mui, to the ordinary Strawberry. You may opt for one of Matsumoto’s combinations: the “Rainbow,” “Hawaiian Special” or “Matsumoto’s,” and, if you prefer a little more than ice and syrup in your cone, you can ask for a scoop of ice cream or azuki beans.
The final product makes such a pretty picture that it seems a shame to have to slurp it down so quickly, but you have to hurry because as soon as you get out into the North Shore sun that ice is going to melt and turn into a sticky mess.