I’d like to introduce you to the best shave ice I’ve had on this island. You likely wouldn’t see it if you didn’t know where to look.
In Kilauea Crossings, just past the new Healthy Hut, is a small, remodeled United States Postal Service delivery truck. It’s been carefully painted white with light blue trim, and a small sign lists 13 lucky flavors. All syrups, ice, azuki beans and ice cream are handmade with fresh fruit and 100 percent organic ingredients.
Eiataro Hisahara and wife Sumi own Shave Ice Tege Tege. Eiataro (Aye ta roe) is from Amami, a group of islands in Japan near Okinawa, where tege tege is slang for “just right.” Shave ice is extremely popular there, and making it with a hand-cranked Hatsuyuki Ice Shaver is essential.
A unique blade gives Eiataro total control, and his ice is like freshly fallen snow. He tops it with thick, all-natural syrup made with organic berries or seasonal fruit from the farmers market and the couple’s backyard.
“Usually, people who eat healthy won’t even think about eating shave ice because of all the artificial ingredients,” says Sumi, who cites high fructose corn syrup made with genetically modified corn. She translates for her husband because his English isn’t as good as his Japanese.
As the young couple discuss their answer to my next question, I sit at a picnic table and relax under the shade of a tree. Sumi turns to me and says, “We wanted to offer parents healthy options so they can feel good about taking their kids out to have shave ice.”
Before adding fresh fruit, Eiataro begins by making two syrup bases. One is made with organic cane sugar and the other with local honey. Seasonal flavors include lemon ($5 cane sugar/$5.50 local honey), mango ($5/$5.50), passion fruit ($5/$5.50), or Jamaican lilikoi ($5.50).
Kids enjoy blueberry ($5) or blackberry ($5) shave ice made with organic berries, and visitors enjoy local, fresh pineapple ($6) or coconut ($5), made with organic coconut milk. The Hisaharas say that brown sugar ($6) and green tea ($6.50) are the locals’ first choice.
Ripe mangos are transformed into a thick, bright-yellow syrup that’s layered with drifts of fluffy ice. Once the 20-ounce biodegradable glass is full, it’s topped with chunks of frozen mango.
I have convinced myself that Organic Japanese Green Tea ($6.50), served with azuki beans, is a healthy meal. Beans and green tea are healthy, right?
Azuki bean paste originated in China, and is a common option for shave ice. There are two preparations: koshian, a smooth paste that’s been passed through a sieve, is the typical addition to shave ice. Tsubuan are beans that have been left whole.
Eiataro uses both types and starts by slow cooking organic azuki beans in organic cane sugar. He purees most of them, but every bite or so, you’ll find a whole bean.
In the green tea shave ice, layers of hand-cranked “snow” alternate with green tea syrup made with organic matcha (green tea powder). Organic condensed milk is drizzled on top, and a scoop of green tea ice cream (that Eiataro also makes) is added along with a scoop of sweet azuki bean paste. The flavors are balanced, even delicate, and not too sweet.
“Japanese people have a refined palate,” says Sumi. “So he’s very particular with his syrups and how he makes the shave ice taste. He’ll test a recipe for a month or two to make it perfect.”
Shave Ice Tege Tege Kilauea Crossings, Kilauea
See map and daily updates at: ShaveIceTegeTege.com
Open every day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Marta Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.