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REVIEW: What’s Shakin’ Smoothies – ‘OMGs’ Made Fresh

July 12, 2014, 1:00 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 12:32 PM
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When a sign beckons us toward an establishment with the promise of a “fresh fruit” smoothie, we often struggle to suppress painful memories embedded by years of traumatic experiences.

Even the distant sound of blenders whirling can be enough to send us ducking for cover, as a seemingly endless slideshow of funky fruit concoctions begins replaying in our minds.

McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, and others have in the past delivered somewhat scary smoothie experiences, accented as they’ve been by such wholesome ingredients as Xanthum Gum and Cellulose. Even more disappointing though, is the uber-generic frozen sludge currently being fired out of countless tourist traps across Hawai’i.

Branded simply as “Island Oasis” smoothie mix, this previously prepared, B-grade fruity slush has invaded hundreds of kitchens with the cheerful promise of a “60 day” shelf life (when refrigerated). When frozen, the stuff allegedly lasts for approximately 1,095 earth rotations (aka “days”).

… Yum?

"What's Shakin" Smoothies in Onomea.  Photo by Nate Gaddis.

“What’s Shakin” Smoothies in Onomea. Photo by Nate Gaddis.

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Standing quite firmly on the opposite end of the freshness spectrum, “What’s Shakin’” Smoothies, located near Onomea Bay, proves to be a calming cure for palates previously abused by processed frozen goop.

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Perched along East Hawaii’s famous “scenic drive,” this little smoothie shack features a nice view of the Pacific Ocean, and a pleasantly chic 1950s “hula girl” ambiance.

But the true feast for the eyes? Acre-upon-acre of bananas, guavas, dragonfruit, and more… all being pollinated by a friendly armada of bees kept on the property.

"Farm to blender". A pair of smoothies look out over banana plants below. Photo by Nate Gaddis.

“Farm to blender.” A pair of smoothies look out over banana plants below. Photo by Nate Gaddis.

Indeed, the majority of the fruit being blasted through What’s Shakin’s high-powered blenders is being grown and harvested on the acreage surrounding the smoothie stand. Local growers make up the primary balance.

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The resulting flavors? “OMG”-worthy.

We first tried the “Farmers Favorite” concoction ($6.95), which features fresh papaya, banana, blueberries, coconut milk and apple juice. Well balanced, and a total winner.

The “Mango Tango” ($6.95) is as-promised. A blast of screamingly fresh mango, with cut papaya and pineapple juice to compliment. Dynamite.

What's Shakin' sells fresh fruit like papayas and coconuts, prepared to order should you choose.  Photo by Nate Gaddis.

What’s Shakin’ sells fresh fruit like papayas and coconuts, prepared to order should you choose. Photo by Nate Gaddis.

Not everything’s perfect, as the slightly-askew flavors of the “Lava Java” ($6.75) demonstrate. The menage of coffee, chocolate and banana somehow doesn’t quite achieve liftoff. But not to worry, bananas and chocolate prove themselves to be skillful lovers elsewhere on the menu.

Happen to be a fan of peanut butter? Then for the love of (insert deity), order yourself a “Peanut Braddah” ($6.75). A mixture of bananas, “PB,” chocolate and milk, it’s a happy balance of salty, sweet, creamy and chocolately.

Swoon-inducing.

“What’s Shakin” also offers a surprisingly large lunch menu.

The "Lava Java" isn't the greatest chocolate/banana combo here. For that, head to the "Peanut Braddah". Photo by Nate Gaddis.

The “Lava Java” isn’t the greatest chocolate/banana combo here. For that, head to the “Peanut Braddah.” Photo by Nate Gaddis.

Their fish wrap (price varies) is pleasingly fresh, served in a serviceable-but-average tortilla casing with tasty house-made tartar sauce.

The bagel with albacore tuna ($8.95) we ordered featured one of What’s Shakin’s few contradictions: tuna from a pouch, spliced with lemon juice. While the meat isn’t great, the bagel was actually excellent. Light and airy, with a pleasant crunch. To really appreciate it, just stick to the “bagel and cream cheese” ($6.95).

Each lunch item we ordered came with the option of fresh salad or average-quality tortilla chips. Not surprisingly, salad is the better option. As a bonus, all lunch items are served alongside genuinely fresh seasonal fruit.

In truth though, What’s Shakin’s lunch offerings work best as filler for weary travelers along the Hamakua Coast, and pale in comparison to the operation’s namesake fruit concoctions.

What's Shakin's "designer bagel" paired with two of their smoothie selections. Photo by Nate Gaddis.

What’s Shakin’s “designer bagel” paired with two of their smoothie selections. Photo by Nate Gaddis.

This is less an insult to the food than it is a compliment to the eye-opening quality of their smoothies. We simply have not had a product like this served any fresher.

And just in case you weren’t aware of it, we’ll lay this out in rather blunt terms:

Farming can be a bitch.

For an operation to so closely connect their end-product to the soils surrounding it takes a combination of science, sweat, and passion. The folks here manage to do all of the above, to great success.

For anyone left jaded after years of disappointing smoothie experiences, What’s Shakin’ is there for you, ready to shake those not-so-fresh feelings away.

All hail fruit.

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