First Look: Halekūlani Bakery & Restaurant
Find edamame bread, raspberry pistachio tarts and cioppino at the new Halepuna hotel by Halekūlani.
Photos: Martha Cheng
The new Halekūlani Bakery, which opened at the end of October, may be Honolulu’s most beautiful bakery. Edamame loaves, curry pan, painted truffles and exquisite cakes are laid out as if in a high-end jewelry store (while also calling to mind Kona Coffee Purveyors’ café), while in the background, you can view Halekūlani’s bakers at work behind a glass wall. With prices much lower than couture jewelry, it’s too easy to get carried away here. Which is how I found myself with almost a dozen pastries and cakes.
Clockwise from top: pineapple coconut croissant, liliko‘i brioche, chocolate croissant, kouign amann
You’re greeted by a lineup of pastries when you first enter, including croissants and the strangest version of kouign amann ($4) I’ve seen—more like a round of almond cake baked into a croissant cradle, and lacking the sticky caramelized sweetness I love about this pastry. Next time, I’d head straight for the cake case, which includes Halekūlani’s signature coconut cake, finally available by the slice ($7), and a liliko‘i chocolate bar ($8), with layers of chocolate mousse, liliko‘i gelée, feuilletine (like super thin Frosted Flakes) and a touch of coconut—a remarkable composition of flavor and texture. As wonderful as that was, it was completely upstaged by the raspberry pistachio tart ($8), with its pistachio puddinglike dome over pistachio sponge cake and raspberry jam in a chocolate crust. In contrast, the blood orange lychee creamsicle ($8) was like the middle of a fireworks show—very pretty, but what you sit through to get to the finale.
Clockwise from left: chocolate liliko‘i, raspberry pistachio, blood orange lychee creamsicle
The breads are soft, with thin crusts, and the edamame loaf ($9.50), with whole soybeans, has the same irresistibleness as the complimentary edamame you can’t stop snacking on at Japanese restaurants.
On the other side of the wall of the bakery is the new Halekūlani restaurant, where popular dishes include the burger ($22) topped with candied bacon and accompanied by fries that are more like an entire potato sliced into four wedges and fried; and the cioppino ($28), with shrimp, clams, mussels and ehu, the catch of the day when I went, all in a light tomato broth. Ehu, especially with its skin still on, adding a welcome fattiness, might be my new favorite fish in a cioppino.
The new restaurant, just like Halekūlani’s other dining options, is a good place to relax in Waikīkī when it’s airy and bright—at night, the lighting gives it the feel of an austere hotel lobby. But if the minimalism gets to be too much, just head next door to the pastry case for the fireworks.
Bakery open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., breakfast buffet 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., dinner 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 2233 Helumoa Road, (808) 921-7272, halepuna.com/bakery