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I’m pretty certain that you won’t find another shave ice place like Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha (HOPA), and you most definitely won’t find another Uncle Clay. This cute Chinese man has one of those ridiculously contagious smiles; the kind that not only shows in the curves of his mouth but in his happily squinting eyes and in his overall welcoming demeanor, as he affectionately greets each and every customer who walks into his Aina Haina “House” with nothing but aloha. To him, everyone is ohana (family).
Customers affectionately call HOPA owner Clayton Chang, “Uncle Clay,” which is a common local custom that shows respect to the person.
It’s a mantra he’s carried on throughout his 15-plus years in the biz. Starting out a couple doors down from where HOPA is today, Uncle Clay turned a childhood dream into reality when he opened a snack shop called Doe Fang. Locals and visitors alike knew Doe Fang as the go-to place for crack seed treats and refreshing “Magic ICEEs.” And everyone knew to order the “Hawaiian Superman ICEE,” named for its sweet-and-salty li hing mui flavor.
Today, Uncle Clay continues to share the spirit of aloha by way of a different frozen treat – one shave ice at a time. It’s not only served with “pure aloha,” as the shop’s name suggest, but with all-natural local produce and ingredients made fresh every morning. Nothing like what you might find at Matsumoto’s Shave Ice on the North Shore. HOPA’s flavors are true to their fruit – mango, coconut, papaya, lychee and lilikoi – and topped with creamy Waialua milk chocolate or Big Island ice cream. Health fanatics might enjoy the Kalespin, made with spinach and kale, yes, kale.
Pure aloha in every scoop of shave ice.
Today also marks the first anniversary of HOPA, and in the spirit of pure aloha, Uncle Clay and his crew will launch the “Share-HOPA-Forward” campaign. The “pay-it-forward” system allows customers to donate toward the cause until they reach their goal of $2,012 (for year 2012). Then, HOPA will have “Sharing Days” throughout Oahu – a chance for people to enjoy free shave ice or to continue the pay-it-forward notion. Cool idea, huh?
The “Hawaiian Superman” flavor still exists!
The spirt of aloha can be found wherever you go in the islands – in the sway of hula dancers’ hips, in the golden glow of a setting Hawaiian sun or in the beauty of the people. But in the case of Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha, the way of the islands can be found in each and every savory bite of shave ice.
UNCLE CLAY’S HOUSE OF PURE ALOHA • Aina Haina Shopping Center 820 W. Hind Drive, #116, Honolulu, HI 9682 • Opens Mon-Thurs 11am-6pm, Fri-Sun 1030am-8pm • 808-373-5111 • www.houseofpurealoha.com • Free parking in lot; near bus route
Photo Credit: Uncle Clay’s HOPA