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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Best custard pie: Lee's Bakery or Kaneohe Bakery?

Kaneohe Bakery's custard pie

It seems, if you're a custard pie lover, you're either in the Lee's Bakery or Kaneohe Bakery camp.

I'd never even had custard pie until I moved to Hawaii; either this old-fashioned pie isn't popular in the cities I've lived, or I've always overlooked it in favor of fresh fruit pies (which are woefully scarce in Honolulu). But once I tasted a Lee's Bakery custard pie at a potluck, I was hooked. Someone recently recommended I try Kaneohe Bakery's pie, which she insisted was the best. I decided to have a taste-off in the office. My notes:

Kaneohe Bakery custard pie:
First appearances: The chilled pie and the surface looked bright yellow, perfectly uniform, smooth and glossy, almost like a giant dan tat, or Chinese egg custard tart. About an inch smaller in diameter than Lee's Bakery 
Custard: It tasted more like a flan, with caramel notes, though the taste and texture reminded me more of Jell-O flan—not as rich as baked one.
Crust: had a slight chemical taste, not an all-butter crust

Lee's Bakery custard pie

Lee's Bakery custard pie:
First appearances: When I picked up the pie, it was still warm and lightly browned on top, like an old-fashioned American custard pie (at least from pictures that I've seen. Also, I'm aware of the irony—that Lee's Bakery is a Chinese bakery.)
Custard: To me, this is what custard should taste like—smooth and creamy with a slight eggy taste. Less sweet than Kaneohe Bakery's.
Crust: flaky and tender, though I don't think it's an all-butter crust

For me, the Lee's Bakery pie was the clear winner. The rest of the editorial team (which didn't know where the pies came from) unanimously declared Kaneohe Bakery's their favorite. They said it tasted more like custard and they preferred the texture. They were also put off by the warm Lee's Bakery pie. I don't know what's wrong with them.

I brought the pies to our design team. When it comes to food, they're not as analytical as our writers (at least not verbally). They voted with their forks and demolished the Lee's Bakery pie, leaving behind the other pie. (Though that one did eventually get eaten.)

Custard pie, $10.65, Kaneohe Bakery, 45-1026 Kamehameha Hwy., Kaneohe, 247-0474
Custard pie, $12, Lee's Bakery, 125 N King St., 

Posted on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 in Permalink

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About This Column

From five-star restaurants to hidden holes-in-the-wall, Biting Commentary will let you know what’s hot and what’s not. Find out the latest restaurant news—who’s opening, who’s closing, which chef is moving on, where the great special dinners are. Discover the best menu items, fabulous wines, stunning cocktails, hand-crafted beers. Be the first to hear about upcoming food events and festivals.

Food editor Martha Cheng graduated from Wellesley College with degrees in Computer Science and English. She's a former line cook, food truck owner, Peace Corps volunteer and Google techie. Follow her on Twitter @marthacheng.


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