Here in San Diego, the warmest months aren’t June or July. The blistery weather begins when it starts to cool off around other parts of the country. August and September tend to be especially hot in Southern California, with some days cresting past 90 degrees. So while the rest of the nation is starting to enjoy the changing leaves, we’re sweating.
On these sweltering days, I like to resort to my favorite cool down treat: shave ice. For the unknowing or those who’ve never visited Hawaii and its neighboring islands, it’s not “shaved ice” but “shave ice.”
Since moving away from the Mission Hills/Hillcrest area, I’ve been looking for a replacement for my regular shave ice from Donut Star and discovered Da Shack.
Da Shack is a companion to Homestyle Hawaiian and found the same shopping center, right across the parking lot. Homestyle Hawaiian is currently closed for remodeling but thankfully Da Shack is open for business during these warm days.
They offer iced coffees, floats, lemonades, chamango and variety of other treats, but their specialty is shave ice.
For the shave ice there are two sizes: Da Keiki ($3.50) and their best deal — Da Big Braddah ($4.50).
Big Braddah includes ice cream (a choice of green tea or vanilla) buried under the mounds of ice, with your choice of three syrup flavors and optional additions of condensed milk drizzle, azuki beans, mochi and chopped fruit. You can choose all of the toppings or pick and chose as you please. The other shave ice sizes charge these each of the options as extras. My current favorite flavor combo is root beer and vanilla syrup with vanilla ice cream and everything on it for added texture. It resembles an icy root beer float— only with sweet beans, mochi and fruit on top.
The best deal is buying their prepaid card. The card was initially sold on Groupon and can now be bought directly from Da Shack. $11 for a card prepays for five Big Braddah shave ice with no expiration date, and you can use as many stamps as you want at one time. The Big Braddah can be customized by filling out the forms at the counter, or you can just request one of their their signature shave ice creations.
On especially hot days, waiting can be a challenge— all shave ice creations are made by hand— and on a recent visit only one person was manning the hut. And it’s not a treat easy to transport for on-the-go (it’s easily enough for two people). Grab a chair in the shaded area if you can and enjoy.
7504 Mesa College Drive
San Diego, CA 92111
858.395.9740 (hours fluctuate — I highly recommend calling before stopping by)