Matsumoto Shave Ice is one of the only stores I have ever seen with a line of 20+ people where at least half, if not more, are waiting outside its store and this would be considered a slow day at the office. My family and I went there on a Tuesday afternoon, about 3:00pm and you can see from the photos below just how long the line was as people patiently waited to get their orders in.
For the record, most people call it Matsumoto Shave Ice but the real name of the business is M Matsumoto Grocery Store. Like every business, Matsumoto Shave Ice did not start out this way but when you have provided over 60 years worth of business treating your customers right and serve a great product, good things can and will happen. This has been a family run business since 1951 when Mamoru and Helen Matsumoto founded their north shore grocery store. The family business has now being run by their son Stanley and his wife Noriko. When I was there, I had a chance to meet Noriko who also brought me my shave ice order.
The prices at Matsumoto Shave Ice are very reasonable with the plain small cone for only $2.50 and the large with ice cream and beans for only $4.00. Matsumoto Shave Ice does not skimp on the ice or the flavors which most likely explains their popularity. The main thing that will ruin a shave ice store’s reputation faster than anything else is small portions with weak flavors. Small portions are bad enough, but a weak flavor is like putting an ice cube in your mouth. Matsumoto Shave Ice gives you the best of both worlds.
Matsumoto Shave Ice has 40 flavors to choose from. Of their 4 most popular combinations, I had to try their number one seller, the Rainbow Shave Ice, which consists of strawberry, lemon and pineapple. The other three combinations are the Hawaiian (pineapple, coconut and banana), the Matsumoto’s (lemon, pineapple, and coconut) and the Tropical (Guava, Lilikoi and Papaya).
As you can see, the ice is piled very high and the flavors are drenched in the shave ice. The flavors were sweet, but not overly sweet, which made it a very enjoyable treat on this sunny summer afternoon. Like I said in my review of Island Snow in Kailua, depending on your sweet tooth, a large might be enough for two people to share and still get your shave ice fill for the day.
Overall, Matsumoto Shave Ice is a perfect place to get a nice cool treat, especially on a hot day and considering we are in Hawaii, the peak season is 365 days a year. Matsumoto Shave Ice is not just a store, it is a North Shore landmark. Personally, I am a scenic person who loves going to places like Lanikai Beach, Chinaman’s Hat and the Pali Lookout but when it comes to supporting a locally owned and operated business, M Matsumoto Grocery Store is truly one of the great commercial landmarks in Haleiwa and a must pit stop if you are in the area. Matsumoto Shave Ice is open 7 days a week from 9:00am to 6:00pm. If you are trying to avoid the line by getting there at 9:00am, that is not a given, because the line sometimes starts before the store even opens.
The landscape is changing and what many people do not realize is that the main road in Haleiwa, Kamehameha Highway, is having a complete makeover on the North side of the road.
Here is a video showing the final days of Aoki’s Shave Ice below:
Almost every business and building has been or is being torn down to completely redevelop the area. One of the other more popular shave ice companies, Aoki’s original location was closed down due to the redevelopment, after 32 years of business. They do plan on re-opening in the future but the original location has been demolished, along with almost every other building in that immediate area. Only Matsumoto Shave Ice and one other store will remain open during the redevelopment of this area. We all hope the area will still keep its historic look and feel but only time will tell what the new development will look like. Here are some of my photos from my visit to Matsumoto Shave Ice
Here is a map to the Matsumoto Shave Ice
One of the first sushi places on the Island of Oahu I tried was Ninja Sushi. They have 11 locations with 4 of them being in Honolulu. Ninja Sushi is mostly located on the South and Windward side of Oahu and presently there are no locations on the North Shore or on the West side past Ewa Beach.
The prices at Ninja Sushi are very reasonable with the most expensive sushi roll, the Scallop Dynamite, being only $9.75. Ninja Sushi’s cheapest roll, the Spam Maki, is only $5.25. For those of you not local to the island, you would be surprised at how popular spam is here. You can find spam and rice at almost every gas station that has a food section. Ninja Sushi features a pretty large selection of sushi to choose from, including Maki-Mono, Nigiri, Bento, Donburi, Udon and Salads. They also have party sets that range from $25.99 to $45.99.
Most good sushi bars have a wide variety of food to choose from but I always want to know what their best signature roll is. The person who assisted me with my order was friendly and accommodating and informed me that the Superman Maki was it. I ordered that along with a small bowl of miso soup. The roll didn’t take but five minutes or so before it was ready for me to dig in. Though, I did go during their non-peak hours. I would imagine the wait may be a little different during the lunch and dinner rush.
The Superman Maki looked very appetizing; unfortunately, the miso soup looked like it was about half full. I wouldn’t expect for it to be filled to the brim but I definitely didn’t expect it almost half empty. The miso soup had a nice flavor, I just wish there was a little more with the serving. The Superman Maki consists of spicy Ahi and cucumber topped with a slice of tuna, potato flakes, green onion and a sweet chili and unagi sauce. The Superman Maki tasted as good as it looked! The flavors blended well together and the Ahi was fresh and the roll had very nice flavor profile.
Overall, I did enjoy the dining experience that Ninja Sushi has to offer. The location I went to for this visit was clean, nicely decorated and the staff was friendly and helpful. If you are looking for some good sushi at reasonable prices, Ninja Sushi is worth visiting. All their locations have slightly different hours so I have included a link here for the hours of the location nearest you. Ninja Sushi hours of operation.
Here are some photos of my visit to Ninja Sushi
Map to Ninja Sushi
Green World Farms is a must if you are headed to the North Shore of Oahu through Wahiawa. The best thing about their location is you do not have to get off the beaten path to visit them. They are literally right on the main road so you can get in and out if you are in a hurry or stay a while if you have the time.
Much like the Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm on the Windward side of Oahu, Green World Farms is a large shop with a lot to offer its customers except they obviously feature coffee as opposed to macadamia nuts. Even though Green World Farms primary focus is on coffee they have a lot more for their customers. Green World Farms feature 3 pure Hawaiian coffees, including 100% Kauai, Maui and Waialua, all in medium dark roasts. They also offer 30% blends of the same Hawaiian coffees. Green World Farms also offers 10 different blends to choose from and 16 different flavored coffees, including Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Coconut Creme and Hawaiian Hazelnut.
Green World Farms roasts their own coffee daily, Monday through Friday. They have a variety of coffees and teas to sample on a daily basis. One thing I really like about Green World Farms is that they even have some fresh pineapple juice for the little ones so that they can enjoy something as well, instead of being told by Mom and Dad “sorry, you can’t try this” as they sample away at caffeinated drinks. They do have a couple caffeine free samples too if you or the little ones are interested in trying those out as well.
Green World Farms is on 7 acres of land with about 2,000 Arabica coffee trees. I have driven by their building a few times over the years but this was the first time I saw it open for business. I asked the General Manager how long they’ve been open and found out only for about a year and a half now. He mentioned that the building was ready for business for years but it took some time to get everything in place before it was ready to open to the public.
Besides a great selection of coffee to choose from, they have iced and frozen drinks as well. Drinks can be ordered at the coffee bar by the entrance of the building and range from $1.75 for the coffee of the day up to $5 for all the frozen drinks. Add-ons start at $.50 cents and go up to a $1.50 for the ice cream scoop. Since I love mango, I had to try their Mango Pineapple Smoothie with a little bit of honey. It was very tasty especially on this hot summery day.
What I like most is the overall atmosphere of Green World Farms. They have a lot of interesting art and prints on the walls. They will even grind your coffee for you fresh on the spot. You can also enjoy your beverages indoors or out. There are some shaded chairs and benches and some not spread throughout, even where the Arabica trees are located. They also provide Wi-Fi so stay connected while you’re there. This island is a very expensive place to live and visit so it is a huge plus that Green World Farms offers such high quality, fresh products at pretty reasonable and competitive prices.
Overall, you should enjoy your visit to Green World Farms, especially if you are an avid coffee drinker. You can even pick up some memorabilia while you’re there. If you get a chance to stop by, make sure you do the self-guided tour through the coffee garden in the back.
It is pretty relaxing back there where you can sit in these little chairs under the shade of a large tree and enjoy your beverages. Also, If you love fresh picked avocados you should really check out the small Avocado Stand that is just north of Green World Farms. Here is a link with directions to the avocado stand in Wahiawa.
Here are some photos from my visit to Green World Coffee Farm
Map to Green World Farms
Being on the beautiful island of Oahu where it’s mostly 80 degree days year round, shave ice is a local favorite. Though there are many different places to get shave ice, there are two that have the most buzz. The first one is Matsumoto’s Shave Ice on the North Shore in Haleiwa and the other is Island Snow in Kailua. Clearly the word of mouth for both Island Snow and Matsumoto are very strong as the lines can easily be over ten to twenty people deep on a regular basis.
I have only had shave ice a few times on the island so when I went into Island Snow to try theirs, I asked them to just recommend something for me. The staff whipped up a Large Mango Melona POG (Passion Fruit, Orange & Guava) shave ice with the traditional scoop of ice cream on the bottom topped with a snow cap (condensed milk drizzled on top). It was very good but since I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, the large was almost a bit much for me. So depending on your sweet tooth, I would say the small or medium would satisfy most while the large can easily be shared with another person. You definitely get your money’s worth with their portion sizes, which are pretty good.
Unfortunately, their store has no indoor seating so you’ll have to eat outside where you can stand, sit on small benches or the pizza shop nearby has several tables with huge umbrellas where you can sit at, to shade you from the sun.
Overall, I would say, if you like shave ice, Island Snow is a must. Island Snow has a great selection of flavors to choose from and the prices are very reasonable. Just keep in mind, if you do go during their peak hours, parking is usually very full so it will be hard to find a spot. Island Snow is open from 10am to 6pm every day, except Saturdays and Sundays when they close at 7pm.
If you go to their website, linked below, you will not even see a mention of shave ice. The only thing on the Island Snow webpage when you search for shave ice is a link to some shirts and a hat. For a place that has some of the most popular shave ice on the island, it is surprising to not find any of their shave ice featured on their website. That only goes to show you how well-known they are, they don’t even need to advertise it on their website!
Here are some photos from my visit to island snow in Kailua.
Map to Island Snow Kailua
The Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet is a great place to visit if you’re ever near Kaneohe or on the way to the North Shore of Oahu. It is a very popular attraction, which is why so many of the tour companies put this place on their list of stops. Tropical farms hours of operation are from 9:00am to 5:00pm seven days a week.
What makes the Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet somewhat unique is that you can sample their products before you buy them. They also provide complimentary Kona Coffee as well, I am not a coffee drinker myself, but from what I have heard the coffee is excellent. Not only can you purchase nuts there but they also have an array of products from lotions, soaps to pearls and oils.
The most impressive aspect of the Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet is that it started from very humble beginnings. Steve and Chrissy Paty began this business back in 1987 selling fresh macadamia nuts from the hood of their car. They cracked, sorted and packaged them at night while raising a family. With hard work and a good quality product, they were able to take their business from the hood of their car to one of the top tourist spots on the island.
They offer six flavors of Macadamia Nuts to choose from: Honey Roasted, Kona Coffee, Caramel, Roasted Salted, Cinnamon and Maui Onion & Garlic. My personal favorites are the Honey Roasted and Cinnamon Glazed. They are all very good so make sure to try all of them when you’re there. Another cool thing about this place is they have a bin full of raw macadamia nuts you can grab, crack and eat fresh from the shell.
The Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet does offer a tour which runs approximately two hours. The price for the tour is $20 for Adults and $10 for children under 12 years old. They also offer a Military/Kama’aina discounted tour price of $15 dollars. They have 3 tours a day, seven days a week, starting at 11AM, 1PM and 3PM. Though sometimes they do not have a 3PM tour so please call them beforehand if that time is the one you are interested in. This is a pretty large place and a fun place to visit, especially if you have little ones who will enjoy the chickens, roosters and birds running around outside the store.
Overall, the Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet is a place I would highly recommend to visit. Their flavored macadamia nuts are very unique and make for a great gift for your friends and family when you come back from your vacation. I have given these macadamia nuts as a gift myself and they went over pretty well. Since you get to try them before you buy them, is pretty hard to go wrong with them as a gift.
Below are some photos from my visit. Don’t let these photos fool you, they were taken just before they closed. This place is usually packed with tourists for most of the day.
Map to the Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet
Kahuku Land Farms is a great place to stop by if you’re ever on the North Shore of Oahu and in need of some all natural refreshments. They are located at almost the northern tip of the island, right next to Kawela Bay and the Turtle Bay Resort. As with any fresh fruit and vegetable stand, your options are going to vary from season to season. Though their selections are great year round, I have found more variety of produce during the summer season.
Kahuku Land Farms consists of one small building with four separate mini-stands to choose from. You can’t go wrong purchasing from any of the four stands there; however, I have typically purchased more from the third stand from the left. The nice lady that runs that stand is Chue. She is very friendly and helpful and works hard to make sure that everything is prepared properly and packaged well.
To give you an idea of what you can find there, here is a list of what was available the last time I stopped by:
– Mangos – Dragon Fruits (White & Red) – Watermelon
– Pineapples – Starfruits – Oranges
– Papayas – Lilikoi – Lemons
– Lychees – Apples – Onions
– Bananas – Grapes (Green & Purple) – Avocados
– Coconuts – Cherries – Tomatoes
This is not everything the Kahuku Land Farms carry, but at least it will give you an idea of what they have.
One item that many people really enjoy is the Banana Lumpia. They are very reasonably priced at only a dollar a piece. You can also purchase them six for five dollars. For a lot of people, this is the main reason they stop here on a regular basis. They are cheap, tasty and unique to the Kahuku Land Farms.
Overall, if you are looking for some fresh fruits and vegetables, then Kahuku Land Farms is one of the best on the island. Their reasonable prices, fresh produce, good selection and nice vendors make them a place worth a visit.
When visiting Kahuku Land Farms on a nice day, be sure to park your car and walk through the woods to see Kawela Bay. The trees on the way to Kawela Bay are enormous and might be as high as 80 to 100 feet tall. Kawela Bay is a very beautiful, secluded area without a lot of tourists or locals and is a great scenic spot to just relax and enjoy eating your fresh produce you just purchased from Kahuku Land Farms. If you are going to leave your car there to do a little sightseeing, please do not park and leave your vehicle right in front of their stands. There are some parking available on the edges of Kahuku Land Farms where you can leave your car for a little while.
Here is a photo of beautiful Kawela Bay below:
Here are a few photos from my last stop at Kahuku Land Farms:
Kahuku Land Farms does not have a website, but you can find them on yelp by clicking here.
Map to Kahuku Land Farms
Lanikai Beach is one of my favorite places to photograph and of all the times I’ve gone there to shoot, having driven by Kalapawai Market, I am surprised to never have set foot inside the store. I guess I just thought it was some sort of convenience store, which in some ways it is. However, they have a lot more to offer than just your basic snacks and beverages. Finally, after asking a few people about the store and hearing good things, I decided to stop by the market for myself.
Unfortunately, when I stopped by, I missed a chance to talk to the Manager of the Kalapawai Market, Eric Dobrinski. I did get to meet Andy Doka who was nice enough to show me around. Andy specializes in making his own salsa out of the Kalapawai Market and was kind enough to give me a sample pint of his original salsa, which by the way was excellent. When I brought it home to my wife, we went through it fairly quickly. If you haven’t tried Andy’s Bueno Salsa, make sure to pick some up when you come by the market. He also makes a mango salsa, which was out of stock at the time of my visit so will definitely be heading back to give that a try!
When I’m at a place as such as this, I always ask what their most popular / signature dish is and try that. Lucky for me, they just happened to have a special of the day: a Seared Ahi Sandwich with Azn Slaw and Red Pepper Aioli Sauce. I love Seared Ahi so it was a no brainer, especially when it’s done right, it’s amazing and that’s exactly what this sandwich was!
As you can tell by the photo above, it looks as great as it tastes. The vegetables were very fresh and crisp. The Ahi was cooked nicely and the bun was very fitting for this sandwich. Unfortunately, this item is not on the menu every day but if this is a representation of the overall quality of food the Kalapawai Marketplace serves, then you’ll be happy ordering your food from there.
When you walk into the deli section, make sure you check out the old photo of Lanikai Beach when there were just four homes on nothing more than earth and sand with a small dirt road, which today is now Alapapa Dr. and Mokulua Dr. My how things have changed!
Overall, I really enjoyed the Kalapawai Market and can’t believe I drove by it for years just thinking it was a small grocery store. The atmosphere is authentic Hawaii with a very rustic look and feel. Check them out if you’re ever in the area, you’ll be glad you did.
Here are some of the photos I took while visiting the Kalapawai Market
Like most people who visit this area, you tend to stumble across something you weren’t really looking for or even expected to find. That is exactly what happened when we discovered the Manoa Chocolate Factory. While my wife and I were finishing our breakfast at Cinnamon’s on the first floor, we noticed a sign near the stairs for the Manoa Chocolate Factory. My wife just happens to enjoy some chocolate from time to time so we decided to pay them a visit. I have been in a few specialty shops over the years, but the Manoa Chocolate factory is truly a special place to visit. The design and interior are as rustic as they come and really gives you the feeling that you are in for a very unique shopping experience.
The owner, Dylan, just happened to be available when we stopped by and he could not have been nicer and more helpful in telling us about his products and letting us sample a few pieces to see which ones we liked the most. I am not an expert on chocolate by any means, but you know quality when you see and taste it and the Manoa Chocolate Factory is just that, Quality.
Everyone has a passion for something whether it be music, art, movies, food or in this case chocolate. I don’t know how Dylan was inspired to start a business based around chocolate, but after visiting his location and getting to know him and his business for just a little bit, it is clear he is doing something he not only is good at but genuinely loves doing. Should we all be so lucky.
Overall the selection and quality of the chocolates are excellent and the employees, as well as Dylan, are more than happy to help you find what you are looking for. I asked Dylan if he had to recommend one item and one item only, which would it be? He instantly said the 60% Breakfast Bar so we tried it (along with a couple more) and that was indeed one of the ones we bought that day. If you are in the Kailua area, the Manoa Chocolate Factory is a place I highly recommend visiting.
For those of you reading this and are nowhere near the island of Oahu, the Manoa Chocolate Factory does sell their chocolate directly from their website. You might also find them at your local Whole Foods store. They can also be found in a few international stores so clearly the word is spreading since you can buy their products as far away as Amsterdam and Japan.
Here are a few photos from my visit with Dylan at the Manoa Chocolate Factory
Map to Manoa Chocolate Factory
I was shooting a sunrise one morning years ago; afterwards my wife and I were looking for a place to eat. We drove by a McDonalds and decided to go inside and see if they wouldn’t mind recommending a nice local place to eat at. The lady working the register said Cinnamons Restaurant in Kailua was one of her favorite places to eat breakfast and that it was pretty much right around the corner. We were so glad to find this tucked away restaurant and after eating there, we know why this is one of the top spots of the Windward side of the island.
Cinnamons Restaurant has a full breakfast menu and the dish that stood out right away for me was the classic Eggs Benedict, but not just any Eggs Benedict. They have the options of having it with Canadian Bacon, Veggie, Kalua Pork, Cured Smoked Salmon, Mahi-Mahi, or my personal favorite, Crab-cake. The Eggs Benedict, made from scratch, is really amazing. The portion size of the full order (two Eggs Benedict instead of just one) is very filling. Just one tip when ordering the Eggs Benedict, ask for the Hollandaise Sauce on the side so you can add it to your taste. Even if I have a very strong appetite, I find it hard to finish the dish with the choice of sides that come with it like the home fries or hash browns. Cinnamons Restaurant is also famous for their pancakes. They have eight different types to choose from.
The two that they highlight on the menu are the Red Velvet with White Chocolate Topping and the Guava Chiffon Pancakes. My wife and I had heard that these two are the most popular so we ended up getting one of each. The first bite I took was of the Red Velvet Pancake and it was very good. Then I tried the Guava Chiffon and, to me, it just blew the Red Velvet Pancakes away. This is not to say that The Red Velvet Pancakes were not good but the Guava Chiffon are just on a whole nother level. If you’re ever at Cinnamons Restaurant , give them both a try; you really can’t go wrong.
Overall the food and the atmosphere of Cinnamons Restaurant is very nice. I have not tried their whole menu by a long shot, but what I have tried I have always liked and whenever I’m in the area I find it hard to resist not stopping there. One thing to keep in mind about Cinnamons Restaurant is that they are only open from 7:00am to 2:00pm. They serve breakfast the entire time they are open but lunch is served only from 11:00am to 2:00pm.
I personally prefer to eat outside in the open courtyard as there is usually a nice breeze and of course some natural sunlight never hurts. The atmosphere here to me is what dining on the islands is all about.
Here are a few photos of my visit to Cinnamons Restaurant
Map to Cinnamons Restaurant in Kailua