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Sweet Treats in Honolulu


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photo: olivier koning

Everyone knows about Leonard’s malassadas, Liliha Bakery’s coco puffs, Bubbies’ mochi ice cream, Ted’s Bakery’s chocolate haupia pies; they’re all household names and potluck favorites. But an entire world of sweets exists outside of these mainstays, sweets that may not make cameos on Hawaii Five-0, but still elicit joy when presented at a party, even if it’s a party of one on the couch. Here are a few of our favorite confections.

"I consider myself the Doughnut King,” says Jessie Salvador, general manager and creator of Regal Bakery’s cheerful cake doughnut concoctions, which include li hing pineapple, green tea, vanilla crunch (a vanilla doughnut topped with cornflakes), lemon crumb (a lemon cake doughnut with lemon icing and lemon streusel) and “Da Kreyz,” a glorious melding of doughnut and crème brûlée.

Donuts channeling cupcake creative energy have been a trend on the Mainland for a few years now, but Salvador is the first to bring nouveau cake donuts to Hawaii. “Everybody loves doughnuts, that’s what I know,” he says. Not that everyone agreed with him at first, particularly his wife, who protested that no one eats doughnuts in Hawaii. Still, Salvador made plans to leave his employer, Regal Foods, which also owns Regal Diner, to pursue his own doughnut business. But rather than lose him, Regal Foods gave Salvador free license in its new retail bakeshop, Regal Bakery. Two months later, the bakery had transformed into an all-doughnut showcase, with cake doughnuts front and center, though the maple bacon yeast doughnut occasionally steals the show. These days, fans are proving Salvador’s wife wrong, crowding this industrial corner by the airport to sample his creations. Doughnuts range from 90 cents to $2. 3040 Ualena St., 834-4423.


from Downtown Coffee

Downtown Coffee understands that great coffee needs great sweets. Its yuzu orange bar ($3.54) plays bright citrus flavors against a chocolate crust, while the matcha and bamboo charcoal torte ($3.54) is subtly sweet (and purportedly healthy). 900 Fort Street Mall, Suite 100, 599-5353.

photos: david croxford

Spanish Bread

from Nanding’s Bakery

At first glance, they look like Olive Garden bread rolls, down to the cornmeal dusting on top, but a bite into fresh Spanish bread (three for $1) from Nanding’s Bakery yields a sweet, buttery filling. Two locations: 918 Gulick Ave., 841-4731, and 94-216 Farrington Highway, Waipahu, 678-0828.


Cake Pops

by Sweet as Sugar

What could be cuter than bite-sized cake fashioned as lollipops? These dense, moist cake balls dipped in chocolate come in such flavors as mint chocolate, caramel apple, coconut and guava. $2.95 each. Available at Ala Moana and Royal Hawaiian Center Island Vintage Coffee locations and by pre-order, sasugar808.blogspot.com.


Animal Bread

from Watanabe Bakery

The turtle an pan tend to sell out early, so snag them when you can, but Watanabe’s soft, sweet animal breads ($1.89 each) come in equally adorable shapes with various fillings such as the elephant bread, filled with custard, the bunny with apples and the choco-bear.  2065 S. Beretania St., 946-1074.


from Ono Pops

Exuberantly creative, OnoPops’ paletas riff on classic local flavors such as POG and guava chiffon cake, while also forging surprising flavor combinations such as Kava Coco Water and Kalamansi Coriander. $3 each. Available at Foodland, Whole Foods and multiple farmers’ markets, call 354-2949 or visit onopops.com for locations.



from Shirokiya

Shirokiya’s newly renovated Meika Plaza stocks a variety of sweets, many imported from Japan, like the baumkuchen ($25), with up to 20 crepe-thin concentric rings of cake. The effect is soft and buttery rich. Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. # 2250, 973-9111, shirokiya.com.

Rice Pudding

at Tangö Market

Tangö turns rice to riches in its luscious rice pudding cup ($3.95). Make sure to dig deep with your spoon for the berry compote at the bottom. 1200 Ala Moana Blvd.,
596-4888, tangomarket.com


Mochi bread

from Boulangerie Bakery

It’s all in the texture: Somewhere between bread and mochi, this chewy yet light mochi bread ($1.39) is speckled with black sesame seeds. 1495 S. King St., #103, 949-1588.

Chocolate Dipped Bacon

from EAT

A few of the shops we’ve listed incorporate bacon into their sweet treats, but only EAT serves a slice of thick-cut bacon as dessert. It’s lightly candied and dipped in chocolate, just enough so that you can still taste the salty, smoky pork. $3 each. 560 N. Nimitz Highway, Suite 102, 538-0597, eathonolulu.com.


from La Tour Café

Vying with cupcakes and doughnuts on the “hot” end of the trend meter, macarons are delicate shells of almond meringue sandwiching flavored buttercream or chocolate ganache. La Tour Café’s colorful assortment ($1.75 each) includes mango, Melona, yuzu,  red velvet and coffee. 888 N. Nimitz Highway, Suite 101, 697-5000, latourcafe.com.


from Camille’s on Wheels

Camille’s take on capirotada, a Mexican bread pudding, tastes like a cross between bread pudding and fruitcake. It incorporates dried fruit, apples, tangerine syrup and piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) and is served with a dollop of softly whipped cream. $3 a slice. Follow this food truck on Twitter: @camillesonwheel.



from Otto Cake

Otto Cake represents the best of new Chinatown, in which a punk rocker and hobby baker makes amazing cheesecake. Otto has been baking for 21 years for mom and friends (e.g. Billy Joel). He now makes 86 flavors of cheesecake, from Peanut Butter Cup to Strawberry Basil ($5 a slice). 1160 Smith St., 834-OTTO, ottocake.com.


from Fendu Boulangerie

Where to start? With a petite apple crumble pie ($5.25)? Or a Valrhona dark chocolate dome revealing a Grand Marnier cream ($5.75)? Get everything. At Fendu, Honolulu’s finest example of a French patisserie, even a humble pound cake ($4.50) is elevated to a haute dessert. Manoa Marketplace, 2752 Woodlawn Drive, 354-0736


photo: james rubio


from Short n Sweet Bakery

While all our previous sweets can be found on Oahu, an unexpected find in Hilo reveals a high-quality bakery that we wish would move to Honolulu. Short n Sweet makes an assortment of breads, croissants, pies, cupcakes, cookies, and candies (savory goods as well). Forced to pick, we’d go with the Kohala crunch bar, with layers of crushed macadamia nut brittle, feuilletine (thin sugar flakes), and milk chocolate topped with a bittersweet chocolate ganache and cocoa powder. The banana cream pie is also a winner, featuring a real butter crust, vanilla custard and bananas, topped with pillows of fresh whipped cream. 374 Kinoole St., Hilo, 935-4446, shortnsweet.biz.




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Honolulu Magazine May 2018
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