As the number of food trucks on L.A.'s streets continues to grow, you've got to get pretty creative to come up with something that stands out. Rick Kukahiko and his wife Ej may have accomplished that with their Tropical Shave Ice truck, which hit the streets about six weeks ago. "There is nothing like Hawaiian shaved ice," says native Hawaiian Kukahiko, "it's totally different than the snow cones most people are used to."
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Unlike snow cones, which are made from crushed ice, Hawaiian ice is shaved right off a huge ice block into a fine powder. Kukahiko explained that the texture is totally different. "It's very fine, it melts in your mouth, kind of like brown sugar. It's really easy to eat."
There are about twenty flavors of shaved ice to choose from, including some straight from the islands, like Tiger's Blood, a combination of strawberry and coconut, and Lililkoi, or Hawaiian passionfruit. Ej makes all of the syrups using pure cane sugar. "There's no corn syrup allowed," says Kukahiko. The truck also offers "fusion" ices, which add fresh fruit and sweetened condensed milk to the mix.
The idea for the truck came from Kukahiko's wife, who runs a Polynesian dance troupe. When the group would perform, guests said they wished they could have some Hawaiian dessert to eat while they watched the shows. Kukahiko, who'd been dreaming of running a food truck, jumped on the idea and the rest is history. Says Kukahiko, "We're just spreading aloha one day at a time."