Sweet Treats in Honolulu
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Diamond Head Market and Grill versus The Alley Restaurant at Aiea Bowl
Desserts and pastries may just be treats to us, but to those who create them, they are serious business. We ran across a rivalry while on our sugar quest.
Ever notice that The Alley Restaurant has many of the same bakery-case items as Diamond Head Market? There are the lemon crunch and pumpkin crunch cakes, the blueberry cream cheese scones and peanut butter and jelly scones. They look and taste fairly close. It’s not a coincidence. Diamond Head Market owner Kelvin Ro says Glenn Uyeda, chef-owner of The Alley, and Shane Masutani, chef at The Alley, were his employees before they opened The Alley five years ago. “Instead of trying to learn new stuff, when [Uyeda] opened the Alley, he did the tried and true,” Ro says, meaning Diamond Head Market’s recipes for the best-sellers: the lemon crunch cake, the scones, and to a certain extent, Ro says, the grill items are the same at The Alley.
But Masutani says that the Market’s recipes were ones he came up with, and anyway, both he and Ro changed the recipes when Masutani left. There are some differences: Diamond Head Market’s lemon crunch cake has two thick layers of lemon curd while The Alley’s cake has a more spare application of lemon. Which is better? You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Diamond Head Market and Grill, 3158 Monsarrat Ave., 732-0077. The Alley Restaurant, 99-115 Aiea Heights Drive, #310, Aiea, 488-6854.
Sticky Cakes of the World
Why do we find sticky, chewy sweets such as mochi so delicious, so comforting, so magical? We don’t know, but we do know that we’re not alone in the world.
Bibingka – Phillippines
Bibingka is a mixture of sticky rice, eggs, sugar, and coconut milk, baked on a banana leaf, resulting in a wonderfully toothsome cake with a caramelized top. Try a sizeable slice ($1.75) from Golden Coin. Golden Coin, locations in Keeaumoku, Kalihi, Waipahu and Wahiawa, goldencoinfood.com.
Jin dui – China
The Chinese take glutinous rice flour and deep fry it for jin dui: spheres filled with black bean paste or coconut sugar and covered in sesame seeds. Chewy and crisp, it’s the best of both worlds. Stop by Lee’s Bakery and Kitchen in the morning, and they might still be warm from the fryer. ($1 each) Lee’s Bakery and Kitchen, 126 N. King St., 521-6261.
Kulolo – Hawaii
Kulolo achieves a dense, chewy effect with a steamed (or sometimes baked) mixture of grated taro, sugar, and coconut. We love kulolo; Liliha Bakery says it has been asked to make coco puffs filled with kulolo-flavored pudding. Young’s Fish Market carries a fine specimen of kulolo ($9.80/pound) made in Kauai. Young’s Fish Market, 1286 Kalani St., 841-4885, youngsfishmarket.com.
Mochi – Japan
The possibilities with mochi are endless, from traditional fillings such as azuki to more contemporary variations such as ice cream or peanut butter. Around New Year’s, some Japanese families still pound mochi with wooden mallets in giant stone bowls. If you can’t get your hands on that, Nisshodo makes excellent alternatives. Nisshodo Candy Store, 1095 Dillingham Blvd., 847-1244.
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