Shave Ice Battle Oahu: Matsumoto vs Waiola

Matsumoto Shaved Ice

After spending almost a week in Oahu, Hawaii, I felt obligated to compare 2 of the top shaved ice spots on the island. During my most recent visit, I had the opportunity to revisit both spots and you can’t go wrong with either one. Without further delay, lets get straight to the details.

Location: Waiola

Waiola Shaved Ice

Matsumoto is on the North Shore of Oahu about an hour drive from Waikiki where the bulk of visitors stay. Waikiki is full of hotels, resorts, and luxury shops, while the North Shore is a peaceful town and gives visitors a true glance of Hawaii. Being farther away, Matsumoto Shave Ice is only accessible if you are renting a car. On the other hand, Wailo Shave Ice is located in close proximity to Waikiki. The drive was under 10 minutes and is located just 2 miles from where we stayed(more on that coming in another post) in Waikiki making this spot easily accessible.

Overall Waiola takes this category.

Price: Matsumoto

Shaved ice has gotten extremely pricey…. well everything has in the last several years.

Waiola shaved ice has a simple menu with several options: Kids Size, Small, Large, Special, and Jumbo. Other than the Special bowl, the other bowls do not come with toppings. The special bowl is $6 and comes with one large scoop of shaved iced, mochi balls, and sweetened red beans. The special bowl is the closest comparison we have to Matsumoto’s special bowl.

Matsumoto Shave Ice also has a special bowl called the Ichiban Special which is also priced at $6. The Ichiban Special is a large scoop of shaved ice in an edible waffle bowl topped with Azuki Paste(Japanese style red bean paste), ice cream, and mochi balls. In terms of price, Matsumoto is the clear winner here only because they offer a large scoop of ice cream and an edible waffle bowl to go with their special!

Taste: Tie

At the end of the day, both shaved ice spots were extremely delicious and offered a variety of fruit flavors. Shaved ice is mainly just flavored syrup and ice and both places clearly hit the spot on a hot day. In terms of taste, I felt like neither place could do any wrong. I did enjoy the Matsumoto special more because of the texture of the Azuki bean paste vs whole red beans at Waiola. Overall both places satisfied my shaved ice craving and I can’t wait for my next visit.

My Take

Overall, both spots were wonderful and extremely delicious. In my opinion I think Matsumoto has a slight edge over Waiola due to their smooth bean paste but at the end of the day either spot is a great choice. I definitely recommend planning ahead if you’re trying to hit up Matsumoto. During my visit, the line wasn’t too bad, but started to grow to over 30 people after I placed my order.

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