Aoki’s vs Matsumoto’s Shave Ice

Update: Aoki’s closed shop on August 27, 2013. They do have plans to reopen in Haleiwa in early 2014.

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Aoki’s Shave Ice in Haleiwa

A trip to Haleiwa for a shave ice is an excellent budget friendly activity to do on Oahu. This little North Shore surfing town is home to two of Hawaii’s most famous shave ice stores – Aoki’s and Matsumoto’s – and they’re literally steps away from each other as you can see from this Google map:

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Matsumoto Shave Ice is the most famous and that’s typically reflected in a line extending from the shop’s front door. Aoki’s is lesser known and some say it’s just as good, if not better than Matsumoto’s.

For an outside, wisdom-of-the-crowds comparison, here are the Yelp reviews for:

I’ve tried both and I’m not sure if there’s a clear winner. I tend to think that Matsumoto’s ice is softer, but the flavoring from Aoki’s was quite tasty.

Shave ice from Aoki's

Shave Ice – and yes, it’s shave without a “d”

I want to hear from you. Have you tried shave ice from Matsumoto’s or Aoki’s? For you seasoned Oahu travelers and locals who have tried both, which shave ice place in Haleiwa do you think is best?


About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

15 comments

  1. I did a comparison and I gotta say, Aoki’s mo betta! (As with everyone in Hawaii, I’m distantly related to the Matsumoto shave ice peeps, but no, it’s not worth the wait.)

    http://tinyurl.com/mmxshaveice

  2. Ooh tough one. I’d take either one! That said, Matsumoto’s by a whisker!

  3. Ooooooh the great debate. Well, for selfish reasons I’m going to say Matsumoto so everyone keeps going there and the line at Aoki’s remains a little shorter. 😉 We usually go to Aoki’s for the reason Melissa mentioned above…shorter wait…and to me, the shave ice is pretty much the same…but I’m no expert. Both have pillowy soft ice and tons of flavorings…all the extras like azuki beans, ice cream, condensed milk, etc. you could possibly want. So it’s a draw for me. I’ll go with the place with the shorter line.

    In town our go to place is Shimazu on School Street. Shave ice is about the same price, fluffy, and twice the size.

  4. I hate to admit it, but I’m not a huge fan of shave ice! I have to really be in the mood for it. That said, I AM a sucker for nostalgia and I’ve always thought of Matsumoto’s as “the original” so if it’s a super hot day and we’re driving through Haleiwa town, I’ll usually stop there. Even with a longer line. I’ve actually never tried Aoki’s though! Call me a creature of habit, I guess. 😉

  5. Aoki’s! The line is shorter and the ice was fluffier and the toppings are better. I thought Matsumoto’s toppings has a chemical-like taste to them.

  6. If I’m at North Shore and it’s shave ice, I go to Aoki’s for the shorter line and if my guest want the Matsumoto Tshirt, I tell them to walk there after eating their shave ice from Aoki’s and buy the Matsumoto Tshirt. At least they can say they were at Matsumoto’s and we can have their pictures taken there with their shave ice from Aoki’s! Really both places are good, it’s the line that’s the problem and my time is valuable when at the North Shore.

  7. We went to Matsumoto’s, got there really early, no line and so yummy, drove to the park up the road to enjoy it. They even let me take a picture while they made it!

  8. I’ve only had Aoki’s when over on the North Shore…it’s so good I don’t want to waste time even trying the other one.

  9. Of the two, I’ve only been to Matsumoto’s. But I also had shave ice at Diamond Head — quite refreshing after the long walk up and back !! But my very first shave ice was at Aunt Sandy’s on our Hana trip. To me, all the shave ice in Hawaii is sooo much better than the water ice here on the mainland. I was visiting my daughter in Tuscan and was at a ball game where they had “Hawaiian shave ice”. Boy! was that a rip-off!! It was nice to have something cold in the Arizona heat, but shave ice it was not!!

  10. Oh boy. Bad person here. Rarely make it out to Haleiwa. I keep singing Haleiwa Moon from time to time but that’s as close as I get. Sigh. Yeah, slaps for me! I’ll get out there, I promise! Now I have to eat shave ice twice! 🙂 Somehow I don’t think I’m going to complain. 😉

  11. Matsumoto’s all the way! Actually that’s a bit unfair as I have never even tried Aoki’s….sometimes I am tempted to because there’s always a long line at Matsumoto’s….but well worth the wait!

  12. I have been to Matsumotos countless times my family just tried aokies tonight because Matsumotos was closed . I have to say Matsumotos was way better they put a lot more syrup then aokies we were basically only eatin ice. I never minded waiting in the Matsumoto line because it always goes by face and the service is outstanding. I definatly think Matsumotos is better

    • I’m starting to think that the quality of shave ice can vary from day to day or even hour to hour. Perhaps Aoki’s isn’t feeling as motivated lately as they are due to close this year.

  13. Sadly, Aoki’s last day in business will be Aug. 27, 2013.

    • Yes that is sad. I love that old red building they’ve been in. Rumor has it that they’re going to rebuild in a nearby location relatively soon.

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