Take a Bite

Refresh with Lemona Hawaii

March 31st, 2015
PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comThe healthful, healing and refreshing properties of Hawaii Island Meyer lemons reflect the philosophy behind natural flavor shave ices at Lemona Hawaii. The Meyer lemon shave ice is zingy and zesty.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

The healthful, healing and refreshing properties of Hawaii island Meyer lemons reflect the philosophy behind natural flavor shave ices at Lemona Hawaii. The Meyer lemon shave ice is zingy and zesty.

When I was a kid, I was confused by the Popsicle-like Otter Pops. I was trained to recognize the red Pops as an approximation of cherry or strawberry flavors, the yellow of lemons, and the purple of grape, but I had no flavor association for the color blue. It certainly didn’t taste like any fruit.

Never mind that the purple and grape flavors we associate with commercial jams and juice still taste nothing like grapes off the vine. Like anyone who grew up following the rise of the convenience food era, my earliest tastes were shaped by the artificial.

Eric Ho felt the same way and never questioned the flavors of sugary shave ice. But the disconnect from the real thing bothered him more and more as an adult. He and his wife, Mamiko Ando, now run Lemona Hawaii, adding to the growing number of purveyors of shave ice shops promoting natural syrups derived from fresh fruit and other ingredients, rather than plain old sugar as in the past.

Lemona Hawaii is becoming known in Waikiki for its combination of fluffy snow ice drizzled throughout with handmade syrups made from seasonal fresh fruit and other ingredients, plus add-ons such as homemade organic condensed milk and Tokachi azuki beans from Hokkaido.

Premium matcha and homemade condensed milk are added to several layers of snow ice to allow the flavors to permeate the bowlful. It can be topped with a layer of Tokachi azuki beans.

Premium matcha and homemade condensed milk are added to several layers of snow ice to allow the flavors to permeate the bowlful. It can be topped with a layer of Tokachi azuki beans.

Recent flavors were Meyer lemon, pineapple, papaya, mango and strawberry, at $6.50 per bowl. One new favorite is 100 percent UCC Kona coffee with condensed milk.

The Lemona name is inspired by Meyer lemons grown on Hawaii island. The couple did their research and Ho said he was surprised to learn all the beneficial properties of the Meyer lemon.

Historically, lemons have been used for protection from infections and science confirms the healing, antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of the lemon's vitamin C, B complex vitamins, bioflavinoids, magnesium and potassium content. Essential oils from the fruit also help to reduce anxiety and tension, improve concentration and alertness, simulate memory and brain activity, and promote productivity.

Sustainable and healthy practices are great things, but most important, the shave ice is delicious!

Mango shave ice. Below, the daily chalkboard specials. Because seasonal fresh fruit is used, the menu is subject to change.

Mango shave ice. Below, the daily chalkboard specials. Because seasonal fresh fruit is used, the menu is subject to change.

Lemona menu

Lemona is at 421 Lewers St. behind the Wyland Hotel Waikiki. Call 922-9590.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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