What You Should Try at Aloha Confectionery
The new locally owned sweets shop at Ala Moana Center offers more than just candy.
Aloha Confectionery is a new sweets shop at Ala Moana Center specializing in shortbread cookies, cupcakes, candies and more.
Photos: Christi Young
Unless you walked past it on the way to Target, you may not have noticed Aloha Confectionery, which quietly opened on the third level of Ala Moana Center in late September. The airy, open sweets shop showcases its signature fish-shaped shortbread cookies in tropical flavors, tubes and pouches of a rainbow assortment of candies, and some familiar-looking cupcakes in the showcase near the register.
Fans of Sugarlina Bakeshop in ‘Aiea will recognize these cupcakes.
That’s because the family behind Aloha Confectionery got its start in 2011 with the opening of Sugarlina Bakeshop, the cupcakery in Pearl Kai Shopping Center in ‘Aiea. Sisters Aness and Farrah Song, their parents and other family members ran the bakery until they sold it in 2017.
“We wanted to do something new,” Aness Song says. “Every year, we take a trip to the Mainland. We visited Miette (a patisserie in San Francisco), we loved that place and wanted something like that.”
SEE ALSO: Take the Cake: Sugarlina Bakeshop
That meant expanding beyond their cupcakes, although some of the best-selling flavors from Sugarlina—including vanilla, s’mores, liliko‘i mango and red velvet—are available daily ($3.45 each). The display case also offers scones ($3.50 each) and cookies ($3.95 each) as big as your hand covered in Fruity Pebbles and marshmallow, chunks of Valrhona chocolate, or potato chips and kaki mochi. Grab one of the three tables inside and break into these cookies with friends (the cookies are way too big for one serving) and a cup of coffee to counteract the kid-time sugary goodness. Yes, Aloha Confectionery does offer coffee and espresso drinks as well.
These fruity Pebbles cookies are studded with colorful marshmallows.
These combine chocolate, potato chips and kaki mochi.
The biggest revelation for me was the soft serve machine. The family loved the style of soft serve popular in Asia, simple and sweet using real milk. “A lot of places use powder or premix,” Song says. “We use fresh milk from the Big Island.” You can taste the difference. Instead of airy and cloying sweet, Aloha Confectionery’s soft serve is rich, creamy with just the right amount of honey ($4.95 each). Waffle cones in Instagrammable hues are available for an additional $2.
As for packaged sweets, the Song’s own shortbread recipe has a big presence, with gift boxes of all sizes and flavors, ranging from liliko‘i and mango to blueberry, featured on the whitewashed tables and white shelves. The cookies are thin and crispy, not at all like the traditional buttery heavy recipes. I prefer the richer version so the lighter rendition wasn’t my favorite. Pineapple and other island flavors of gummies line up next to candied kumquats, lychee and mandarin oranges and, of course, furikake party mix. One of the best sellers is the spicy candied lemon. I walked out with a bag myself and will return to pick up another batch of the slices of sugar-preserved lemon with a hint of heat.
Cupcakes are not the main focus of the shop but do know you can special order them in regular and mini sizes. Song suggests at least two days notice.
Aloha Confectionery, Ala Moana Center, Level 3, Mauka Wing, (808) 943-8550, @alohaconfectionery
Side note for sweets lovers: Japan cream puff chain Beard Papa’s is returning to Hawai‘i. For those who have been missing its crispier pate de choux and light cream filling will be able to pick up their favorites at Ala Moana Center this winter along with Japan-style candies from Totti Candy Factory, which the press release says is known for its gigantic rainbow cotton candy. No opening date has yet been set, but you will eventually be able to find Beard Papa’s Totti Candy Factory in the Makai Food Court.