When you bite into an Ono Shave Ice, you are instantly transported to the islands of Hawaii. Visions of turquoise water and white sandy beaches are conjured in your mind, and you almost forget that you’re eating something straight out of a “silver bullet” food cart in Portland, Oregon.
Unlike a snow cone (made from crushed ice), shave ice is a soft, melt in your mouth treat that is shaved from a single block of ice. The ice is then enhanced by a variety of flavors, ranging from the standard lemon and strawberry to the more exotic guava and mango. You can also add traditional shave ice toppings like mochi and azuki bean.
Ono means “delicious” in Hawaiian, so if you’re looking for a delicious tropical fix, Ono Shave Ice has got you covered.
E+E: What inspired you to start Ono Shave Ice?
Grant: The main reason I opened Ono Shave Ice was because I would go to the different farmers markets, street fairs, and festivals, and people would constantly advertise shaved (with a “d”) ice. But, after waiting in a long line to get “hawaiian shaved ice”, I’d get a cup of crushed crunchy ice with tasteless syrups; nothing like real shave ice we grew up with in Hawaii. Real shave ice should be like snow; it should absorb the flavors, not drain to the bottom.
So, I decided to follow the Portland food cart trend and start our authentic Hawaiian Shave Ice mobile truck, with all the traditional trimmings. 24 different flavors, ice cream on the bottom, and all the toppings you would normally get at a Matsumoto’s or Waiola’s (popular shave ice businesses in Oahu).
People go to Hawaii specifically for beaches, sun, and shave ice.
E+E: What brought you to Portland?
Grant: I’m originally from Kaneohe, HI on the island of Oahu. I was born and raised for 18 years there before I came up to Oregon State University for college. I graduated from OSU with a Mechanical Engineering degree, but my heart was always in trying to start my own business. I met my wife at OSU and have lived here ever since.
E+E: What is your favorite thing about Portland?
Grant: What I love about Portland is the changing seasons. Obviously it’s not conducive to year-round shave ice, but I love to watch the seasons change (something we don’t get in Hawaii). I love the evergreen trees and the natural scenery wherever you look. Hawaii is very beautiful, but Oregon just has a different type of beauty.
Follow the food cart on Twitter to get updates on where it will be.
Photo courtesy: Ono Shave Ice
Written by: Lauren Kodiak