Ordering Ice Garden is one of those small kid rituals we all know. On a weekday after school, or for us a sticky Saturday afternoon, we head to Aiea Shopping Center. The tepid AC is a mild relief from the heat, but not enough. There are several other offices and stores in the Mini Mall, but it’s difficult to remember what they are. Like everyone else we’re here for one thing only–shave ice.
With a small counter and only a few seats, a line out the door is typical. Luckily it moves fast. Everyone knows exactly what they want. Thirty different flavor combinations are posted on the wall, each with a corresponding number. A little girl shouts excitedly “I want #13 with condensed milk!” Her brother coolly tells his mom “I want #10.” Another group of girls walks in. “What are you getting? I’m getting #24.” Her friend responds, “I’m getting #7.” I smile, cause that’s my number.
A tiny woman is waiting at the counter to take our order. She looks smaller today than I remember. She notices my camera and says “thirty-seven years open.” She holds her hand out, waist high. “Since small boy” she says. Despite the language barrier I come to the conclusion she’s seen many kids grow up over the years–waiting in line for their shave ice and other after school snacks.
A small case still holds zip lock bags of li hing mui–like relics on display from another time. I’m reminded of crack seed stores growing up. Li hing powder on everything! Though no one bought any while there, I’m weirdly relieved to see it for sale.
We give her our numbers. With the menu memorized she immediately begins shaving the ice. She looks tiny next to the big red machine, but it’s not a problem. The handle high above her head, molds to her hand. In no time, we have our two bowls, #29 with custard and…
#7 Pudding, Milk Shave Ice with Mochi Ball. Fluffy white ice with condensed milk, topped with two custard pudding cups. Soft and eggy with a sweet and salty caramel syrup that drips into the ice. Bites of soft egg and ice, interrupted by perfectly chewy mochi balls. As I inhale my bowl, I keep count of the number 7’s ordered. Not surprisingly, four in 15 minutes–more than any other item on the board.
A faded Star Bulletin article is posted in the window, dated Aug 20th 1993. The article lists a few lost menu items–hot dog manapua $0.90, taro cake $0.50, lup cheong $1.20. In its prime, the store was open 8:30am – 6pm. They’ve since slowed down. Now open 12 – 5pm.
Prices are also different. Then–$1 for one flavor, $1.10 for two, $1.20 for three, and $2.60 for a combination. Today–$6+ But that’s to be expected. I’m just glad nothing else has changed.
Ice Garden 99-115 Aiea Heights Drive, Aiea 96701 Mon-Sun 12pm-5pm (808) 488-5154
- Combination Shave Ice
- Pinto Beans Milk Shave Ice
- Red Beans, Oat Meal, Milk with Peanuts
- Green Beans Shave Ice with Milk
- Taro, Milk Shave Ice with Mochi Ball
- Taro, Milk Shave Ice
- Pudding, Milk Shave Ice with Mochi Ball
- Pudding Milk Shave Ice
- Root Beer, Ice Cream with Mochi Ball
- Root Beer, Ice Cream Shave Ice
- Orange with Mochi Ball and Ice Cream
- Orange with Mochi Ball
- Rainbow with Mochi Ball
- Rainbow with Ice Cream
- Li Hing Mui Shave Ice with Mochi Ball
- Tapioca Chocolate with Mochi Ball
- Strawberry, Red Bean, Ice Cream, Mochi
- Strawberry, Red Bean with Mochi Ball
- Strawberry, Red Bean with Ice Cream
- Red Bean, Milk Shave Ice with Mochi Ball
- Fresh Pineapple Shave Ice with Ice Cream
- Blue Vanilla, Ice Cream with Mochi Ball
- Fresh Pineapple Shave Ice
- Taro Milk Shave Ice with Ice Cream
- Strawberry Shave Ice with Mochi Ball
- Strawberry Shave Ice with Red Beans
- Strawberry Ice Cream with Mochi Ball
- Strawberry Red Bean with Pudding
- Oat Meal, Chocolate with Mochi Ball
- Oat Meal, Chocolate with Ice Cream