Island Address Book 6-23-2006

Rod Lau, Director of Sales, Kauai Marriott On Sampling Shave Ice

By: Dawna L. Robertson

Rod Lau is a “local boy” a term meaning he was born and raised in Hawaii. Growing up on Oahu, then later living on the Big Island and Kauai, Lau has etched a 38-year career in the hospitality industry. These days, he is director of sales at the venerable Kauai Marriott Beach Resort & Beach Club. From his early days in the front office to his current position in hotel sales, Lau commends the industry’s multi-level sharing aspect.

“People like me who worked from the ground up to leadership positions are now teaching what we learned to others,” he explained. “The hospitality business and Hawaii is a perfect marriage, thanks to our aloha spirit.”

Relocating to mellow Kauai in 1997, Lau has appreciated the Garden Isle’s easy pace.

“On Kauai, you can go to beaches where you might see only a single set of footprints,” Lau said. “As a kid, I did that on Oahu. I’d go out to Kaaawa and enjoy the natural playground.”

While most island traditions have remained with Lau regardless of where he lives, one stands out. Years and locales have never quenched his craving for shave ice.

Similar to a snow cone but more refined, this traditional island sweet treat is a colorful concoction of ice shaved by blades to a fine powder, shaped into a cone or bowl and topped with a flurry of fruity flavors. Other accoutrements enhancing the syrupy creation may include vanilla ice cream at the bottom, evaporated milk, chocolate syrup or Asian azuki beans on top. Lau, however, prefers the natural route.

“I’d eat it plain. Really, the cold was what I was after,” he said. “Nothing could beat a shave ice after body surfing at Sandy’s or Makapuu. After a long day in the sun ... nothing was better.”

These days, Lau hits the greens instead of the surf. His reward is often a bowl of noodle soup at Hamura’s in Lihue, followed by shave ice.

“It’s a great way to finish off the meal,” he said. “The thing about shave ice is that there was never just a shave ice stand. It was always made at a place where they also sold other things. Or it might be in the window at a general store.”

On the road, Lau has favorites on neighbor islands as well.

“When my wife and I travel to the Big Island to visit friends in Hilo, we’ll go for shave ice at Wilson’s and Itsu’s,” Lau said.

As for his Oahu yearnings, mom-and-pop Matsumoto in Haleiwa does the trick.

“I always go with strawberry or root beer,” he noted.

Lau places the shave ice experience on his “gotta do” list for island visitors because it’s so unique.

“It really crosses all the generation lines,” he pointed out. “Little ones and adults all love it. Many times I remember an adult carrying three or four cones and spreading them around for the whole family. It’s the perfect tourist attraction meal. It’s universal in its appeal.”


Big Island
Itsu’s Fishing Supplies
810 Piilani St., Hilo

Wilson’s by the Bay
224 Kamehameha Hwy., Hilo

Hamura’s Shave Ice
2956 Kress St., Lihue

Aoki Shave Ice
66-117 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa

Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-087 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa

Waiola Store
2135 Waiola St., Honolulu