i am not really a shave ice kind of guy in general, but uncle clay's HOPA deserves a thread of its own.
i live in liliha/nuuanu and as an elementary school kid got shave ice from 'john's store' (actually john's grocery). it was a sweet, cold blast of sugar and blunt flavor. kids stuff, i thought.
done the matsumoto's thing and the other place in haleiwa. meh, same as anywhere else; ok, just shave ice.
always passed shimazu, never saw them open but a handful of times until recently when they exploded on here and yelp. and each time i was in the area and wanted shave ice they were closed. i think maybe i even got to try them once, not sure.
had shave ice from some other place in the past six months; the only thing i remember was my dog wouldn't try it (but she didn't want uncle clay's either).
now after hearing about uncle clay's from yelp and mentions here and on other blogs, we tried it since we were in the area and waiting for the weather to clear up before doing koko stairs. someone on a hike the previous day had mentioned the lilikoi flavor too, so it stuck in my mind.
a cold snack on a hot day, simple, i thought. well, $3 got a keiki sized bowl and two flavors. i chose the aforementioned lilikoi and strawberry.
i was shocked! sure they say no hfcs, no preservatives, no artificial coloring, just natural ingredients, but really, what does that mean? well... it's like comparing a slice of pizza from the dumpster behind little caesar's (worst pizza i could think of that no one here likes) to a buffet of the best pizzas from nyc and chicago, all the stuffed crust i like, those big slices from boston's (both of the local chains since they split), bar 35's valentini's fusion pizzas, even the slices of tombstone my friends and i would eat at my house late at night in highschool.
or the waxy chocolate of a crunch bar to the smooth, smoky flavor of real dark chocolate shavings over rich cocoa ice cream covering double fudge brownies.
uncle clay has taken shave ice to a gourmet level.
he's a pretty nice guy too, took the time to talk to us and pretty much everyone else there.
just try it!
aina haina in the strip mall behind mcdonalds.