Always Aloha Shave Ice company becomes insta-popular by bringing the Hawaiian island flavors to the East Bay

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ByMelissa Pixcar KGO logo
Thursday, September 5, 2019
Shave ice company brings the Aloha spirit to the East Bay
Always Aloha Shave Ice Company becomes insta-popular by bringing the traditional Hawaiian Island treat to the East Bay.

Oakland, Calif. (KGO) -- Shave ice has been popular for generations in Hawaii but now it is taking the Bay Area by storm. Stephanie Iwasaki, owner of Always Aloha Shave Ice Company, has made her interpretation of the tropical treat insta-popular by having thousands of followers online and in real-life. Hawaiian shave ice, and yes pronounced "shave" is the Hawaiian way to spell it. ABC7 found them on Facebook and was mesmerized by their mouth-watering posts and we had to check out the hype. We put our taste buds to the test to see if Always Aloha Shave Ice was worth the wait and it definitely was!

"Hawaiian shave ice has always been a part of my childhood," said Iwasaki. "Every time I go back home I always get a bowl of shave ice."

Iwasaki is an O'ahu native and came to the Bay Area to study graphic design at the Academy of Arts in San Francisco.

The Oakland-based company just celebrated their one-year anniversary this July and has developed a huge following of loyal customers from their social media pages.

During the warmer seasons Always Aloha Shave Ice posts their pop-up location and the flavors of the week.

"Social media has been a huge for us," said Cory Shigeta, co-owner of Always Aloha Shave Ice. "I think it's how 70-80% of people come by and find us."

Stephanie's father had an old ice machine sitting in the garage and told her to take it with her to the Bay Area.

"Since I moved here he's been saying why don't I start a shave ice company but I was in school and I decided to wait," said Iwasaki. "He's friends with a guy who owns a shave ice shop in Hawaii so my dad kept it and held on to it until I brought it up here."

Iwasaki and Shigeta experimented with tropical fruits and practiced until they turned the ice into a thin soft flake.

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"Our machine shaves the ice very fine and as soon as you eat it, it melts in your mouth," said Iwasaki. "The toppings are all homemade fresh fruits and we use condensed milk which is very popular in Hawaii and we call it a snowcap."

In the early 1900's, shave ice was brought by the Japanese who immigrated to the Hawaiian Islands to work on the sugar plantations.

The Japanese made the fine flakes from a block of ice by hand using machetes and covered the ice with sugary fruit juices.

While some Japanese immigrants stayed on the plantation others decided to open stores across the islands and sold the shave ice. Today the fruity island treat is known as a Hawaiian classic dish.

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"We have people that come out in Aloha attire that want to connect because they are from Hawaii. It is nice to feel that Hawaii support," said Shigeta. "We are transplants from Hawaii and I think it gets the stamp of approval from folks from back home."

Every week Always Aloha Shave Ice has a set menu of fresh and homemade flavors.

"Today we are having "POG" which is a blend of passion fruit, orange, and guava juice. We have a strawberry peach calpico which is our new flavor of the week and we have a pineapple orange that is inspired by the Hawaiian sun drinks," said Iwasaki. "This is my interpretation of shave ice and I would like the Bay Area to experience this as well."

For future pop-up locations visit Always Aloha Shave Ice Company Instagram, Facebook Page and website.