There are two shave ice places called Jo Jo’s in Waimea on Kauai. One, on the main street, will be busy and is full of tourists. The other, just off the main street and about 100 feet away from the first shop, will also be busy but it will be packed with locals. The latter is the one you want to go to. Jo-Jo’s Anuenue Shaved Ice is a hole-in-the-wall shop that makes delicious shave ice. Shave ice (often said in Hawaii without a “d” on “shaved”) starts out with a big block of ice (not ice cubes) that is run over a sharp blade to create powder-fine ice that is the perfect vehicle for fruity, tropical sauces. The syrups at Jo Jo’s are homemade and come in every flavor you could want, from cappuccino to coconut, from blue raspberry to li hing mui.
According to my guidebook, the shave ice shop down the street from this one was originally owned by Jo Jo herself. She sold it to some (again, according to the book, non-locals) without including her secret syrup recipes. That location remains popular with tourists, but Jo Jo opened this new shop and, since locals know who runs it, it is busy with fans who know the real thing. That story in the guidebook was enough to have me double checking the location and I wasn’t disappointed.
The shave ice was great, and the syrups were fantastic. I got a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream topped with mango, guava and coconut shave ice and dusted with Li Hing Mui powder. The fruit flavors were vibrant and fresh, and the ice cream was a nice match for them – especially when the last of the shave ice was gone and I was left with ice cream in fruity syrup. Li Hing Mui is a salty-sweet dried plum that is popular in Hawaii, often ground into a powder and sprinkled on sweets or fruits. I always make sure to get some when I have a chance, and I liked the savory element that it added to my shave ice, as well as the way it made the ice look like a little volcano.