First Look: Liliha Bakery Opens at Ala Moana Center
The third, and biggest, outpost of the beloved Liliha Bakery offers a bar and more central location.
Photos: Martha Cheng
Waves of nostalgia inundated me as I stepped into the new Liliha Bakery, which had its soft opening on Thursday (the grand opening is planned for March 22). First, it was memories of The Pineapple Room, which, in 2017, ended its 18-year-run in the same space.
I worked as a line cook there from 2006, my first restaurant kitchen job, and my first job in Hawai‘i, which I started a week after getting off the plane. There, I learned to cook with chefs that I consider to be among the best in the state—Alan Wong, who taught me about Hawai‘i’s plantation history and the resulting unique mix of flavors; Lance Kosaka, now at Top of Waikīkī, who taught me about kitchen work ethic; Neal Nakasone, who’s scheming his next project after Home Bar and Grill; Robert Urquidi, now running Ethel’s Grill with his wife Minaka; Susanna Ok, now an executive chef at The Battery SF, who taught me how to utilize every single scrap of food, from stem to leaf, nose to tail.
I don’t think I’m the only one who has fond memories of The Pineapple Room, with its kim chee reuben and loco moco with veal jus.
Cheeseburger deluxe ($14.50), pancakes ($9.75), country style omelet ($11.95)
And I’m definitely not the only person with fond memories of the original Liliha Bakery, which goes all the way back to 1950, famous, of course, for its Coco Puffs, and the counter seats, where the Liliha ladies at the griddle serve up pure comfort 24 hours a day. In 2008, Peter Kim, of Yummy Restaurant Group—which owns Yummy Korean BBQ, Lahaina Chicken Co., The Signature steakhouse and other restaurants—bought Liliha Bakery from its original owners, the Takakuwa family. When Kim bought Liliha Bakery, he knew he wanted to open two more locations. It took a decade—he opened the second location in 2014—but now his Liliha trifecta is complete.
The waffard $12.75: waffles plus custard
At a time when other institutions, such as Wailana Coffee House have closed, Liliha debuts its largest location with 170 seats. New to this spot will be a bar with beer and wine, a juice bar and boba drinks, plus an event room for private events (also, did you know Liliha caters? Liliha wedding anyone?). The bar and event room aren’t ready yet—look for them to open in the coming weeks. Recently, Liliha Bakery has introduced new dishes, including garlic fried rice ($12.95), smoked pork belly and eggs ($15.50), salmon and arugula salad ($18.99) and the rather unfortunately named “waffard” ($12.75)—waffles layered with custard.
The new location also has the full pastry case of baked goods, as well as a refrigerated case with cakes and the Coco Puffs.
And, of course, the nuclear jelly, bright red, shines like a beacon of nostalgia.
Open daily 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Third Floor, (808) 944-4088, lilihabakery.com