My 9 Favorite Bakeries in Honolulu
Where a dining editor goes for all things cake and bread and pie.
There has never been a better time to be a carb lover in Honolulu, where new pop-up bakeries join decades-old institutions, where pastry boxes now reveal mango sticky rice danishes and Parisian flans, along with our longtime staples of anpan and Spanish rolls. Here are my current favorite bakeries in Honolulu:
Wallflour Bake Shop
I try not to get too attached to anything at Wallflour because bakers Ellen Stavro and Javier Flores frequently change their pastries—past favorites such as a Mānoa Chocolate tart and pandan doughnut have now given way to new loves including a mango sticky rice Parisian flan and passion fruit mac nut praline tart. What is constant: in everything from their naturally leavened croissants to milk bread, a precision in flavors and textures that reflects the bakers’ time working in fine dining restaurants.
I know people lament how hard it can be to reserve bread at Breadshop, but I think back to the bakery’s early days, when you had to chase it down at the farmers market or the medical school even, and when Chris Sy, as the sole baker, made even more limited quantities than now. So Breadshop’s brick-and-mortar feels like a blessing of abundance—an abundance of country loaves and furikake focaccia and pastry boxes of ever-evolving creations like a mango sticky rice danish or smoked carrot pastry that tastes like lox on an everything bagel.
My mood always lifts instantly when I walk into Brug’s warm, yeasty embrace. My go-tos at this chain from Hokkaido include the fluffy soft raisin bread and Hokkaido anpan, with a slightly less sweet red bean paste compared to others. And when I want something more substantial to chew on, the mochi bread.
Multiple locations, brugbakery.com
The Local General Store
When a butcher and baker team up, you get craveable wonders like a longanisa croissant and lard chocolate chip cookies. But Harley Tunac Chow, the baker, also stands on her own, with one of my favorite chocolate croissants and a carrot cake with pineapple jam and a vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.
Beyond Pastry Studio
You see ube everywhere now, but Cristina Nishioka is one of the few who uses real and local ube, a much harder process than opening a bottle of ube extract. She folds it into her ube cream cheese ensaymada, one of the lightest ensaymadas in town. I try to go for Filipino Pastry Fridays, when Nishioka bakes delights like a chicken adobo pandesal, jackfruit cake and pineapple Spanish rolls.
At this cute and petite bakery tucked away in 808 Center, Megumi Albritton offers exquisite Japanese-style cakes and pastries, including the best fresh fruit tart on the island, with a layer of almond cream at the bottom, and a Japanese strawberry shortcake that’s a study in simplicity—soft sponge cake, whipped cream (and real whipped cream, not whipped topping that’s common at many bakeries in Honolulu), and lightly tart strawberries that balance out the sweetness. While this cake is a staple at Japanese bakeries, CakeM offers individual servings of it that are like miniature cakes, which makes cake for one feel like even more of a special occasion.
I visit Nanding’s for only one thing: Spanish rolls. Three warm rolls, with the butter seeping through the paper bag, rarely make the 10-minute walk home. Sometimes I’ll even double back and get more of those barely sweet and salty and soft breadsticks with their light cornmeal dusting. You have to eat them warm, and I’ve tried other items from Nanding’s, but they never live up to the wondrous simplicity of the Spanish rolls.
Another bakery that I go to for only one thing: the custard pie, silky and just barely set. Most times when I’m passing by the bakery, I have no occasion whatsoever to buy a whole pie. But I can’t resist, and I buy one, and I make an occasion happen.
125 N. King St., (808) 521-6261