It's notoriously hard to find within the continental U.S., but this summer, shave ice has officially arrived on the east and west coasts. If you’ve ever been to Oahu’s North Shore, you’ve probably been to Matsumoto’s, a veritable mecca for the stuff. If not, let me explain: they do not crush their ice; as its name implies, it’s shaved (but drop the final d, thank you very much) off a big block. The result? Ultra-light, even powdery flakes that hold onto flavor much better than your standard snow cone and make converts of the most enthusiastic slushy slurpers.
Try it classic Hawaiian style—with vanilla ice cream and azuki beans, perhaps, or “snow capped” with condensed milk—at Eton (205 Sackett St.; 718/222-2999), in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. Owner Eton Chan, formerly a chef in Manhattan’s Café Gray, discovered the dessert while honeymooning on the islands two years ago and opened up shop (where he also sells excellent dumplings and bubble tea) soon after returning home. He ships everything in from Hawaii—27 syrups (lychee, coconut, and coffee among them), toppings like mochi bits and li hing mui (salty dried plum) powder, colorful flower-rimmed cups, you name it. The operation proved so popular that Chan just opened a second outpost down the street at no. 359.
For a seasonal spin, hit up People’s Pops, at New York’s Brooklyn Flea market through September. Owners Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell, and Joel Horowitz make their own syrups from only local and organic fruit, which means that their flavors always changing. Most recently on the menu: lemon-basil and watermelon-mint.
In Los Angeles, ice cream shop Milk will be shaving ice on weekends through August 23. A “milkette” makes it to order with a hand-held steel shaver; you choose from five homemade syrups, including dulche de leche and tamarind-chile. And last, but not least, word is that shave ice will be on the menu at the Birdbath Neighborhood Green Bakery slated to open later this year in West Hollywood. Let’s hope that the trend continues inland.
Christine Ajudua is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.