Before I share this latest review, it’s important for you to know that I have misophonia, a condition that may cause a reaction to hearing dripping water, chewing, snapping gum, or repetitive noises, such as pencil tapping. People with misophonia can become irritated, enraged, or even panicked when they hear their trigger sounds. Treatment might involve therapy or lifestyle recommendations, such as using sound protection or creating “noise-free” zones within living spaces.
Suffice it to say, I absolutely hate when folks chew on ice. I will literally have a fit if I hear smacking or crunching. So, why, you might wonder, did I review a business whose basic ingredient is ICE!
Thankfully, Ohana Ice & Treats located at 1800 W 103rd St, Chicago, IL 60643, served shaved ice that is so soft, it dissolves in your mouth almost instantly. You get the audible stealth of a ninja and the flavor impact of an atomic bomb, but with NO CRUNCHIN! Yes, I meant to say crunchin instead of crunching! That’s Ohana’s shaved ice for me.
The space is on a moderately busy street corner decorated in a whimsical assortment of ice cream paraphernalia with a color scheme of retro pastels reminiscent of scenes from the movie Edward Scissor Hands. The entire space projected nostalgic ice cream parlor where the teens from 90’s show Saved by the Bellmight hang out. I immediately liked the entire feel.
The owner, Mrs. Keyan Caines, greeted us cheerfully while assisting other customers, giving us time to choose what we’d like to sample. The journey began with a classic coconut flavored shaved ice, which was red for some reason. In Black culture, red has a taste, color, and expectation. Red can encompass any flavor between cherry to strawberry and may even, in rare cases, be watermelon. Red is a flavor. Don’t debate me on this.
In any case, Keyan handed me the red shaved ice and my Black brain was suspecting that she made a mistake, so I asked, “I think I may have someone’s ice cream,” she replied, “No, that’s it. That’s the coconut.” I was immediately distrustful of everything now. How could this be coconut and its RED? HOW? I suspiciously plunged my spoon inside, scooping up a large heap of RED shaved ice, and as the Lord above as my witness, the flavor was damn coconut. What type of Harry Potter shit is going down in here? I kept my shock to myself, not sure whether it registered on my face or not.
This is an insult to the annals of ancestors who have established red as a distinct flavor, and this super teacher lady is attempting to unravel this legacy. I wouldn’t’ have it. I demanded some form of explanation. The unique flavor was noticeably absent the gross syrupy high fructose corn syrup concentrate I expected from my previous shaved ice experiences. This allowed for a bold coconut taste that was both refreshing and able to carry a companion flavor as well.
We did this. We sampled several combinations and each somehow continued to be both delicious and surprising. Keyan explained that her shaved ice is a little different from others, in that her flavor supplier is based in Hawaii and uses only the top of line ingredients without any artificial flavors and high fructose corn syrup. She also mentioned the syrup to sweeten all the saved ice is made from scratch in-house.
As a teacher in the Chicago Public School System, Keyan apparently uses her space as an extension of the classroom by teaching her customers something new. She also has an amazing staff that treated the kids arriving after school with that teacher quality care. Truly a teacher’s teacher, the type you and your friends be like, “Yall remember Ms. Keyan?” “Yeah. Man Ms. Keyan was cool af.”
Aside from the shaved ice, the space has a large assortment of ice cream flavors. I chose to be obnoxious and order a banana split. That shit was good as hell. She does all sorts of creations from the ice cream, including milk shakes!
There were also small options for food. She had a decent nacho with cheese that you could snack on. Nothing spectacular, but if your ass is hungry and want to kill two birds with one stone, you could definitely make a meal from her snacks; although the real standouts at this joint for me was the shaved ice.
As the winter closes in, Kenyan has big plans for a hot bar service in teas, hot chocolate, and coffees. I don’t think the Hungry Black Man will be in Chicago in the winter months though. This Miami King will have my ass right in the warming glow of our little hometown, and I will see my brothers and sister in Chicago when it’s a little warmer.
Thanks again for an amazing time at our 3rd Black Chicago Foodie Tour. We will hopefully be back before the cold gets crazy.
You can read more on amazing eateries in your hometown and the nation by following us @thehungryblackman or subscribe to our blog at www.thehungryblackman.com.
ALL PHOTO CREDIT IS DUE TO CHEF KRIS KOFI! You can contact the photographer at [email protected]