When you first pull up to Paalaa Kai bakery, it appears to be pretty low-key; no flashing signs like Leonard’s Bakery but rather a modest yellow sign with faded walls lightly dusted in red dirt, compliments of Waialua’s rich farming lands.
(Top) Mouth-watering sweets ready to be devoured. (Bottom) Keeping it old school in Waialua.
An old-school bakery that remained exactly the same despite the changing economy and the developing North Shore scene; except now, Paalaa Kai not only relies on word-of-mouth but high-speed internet as well! Their Twitter and Facebook accounts have helped them to build a reputation as “Waialua’s Hometown Bakery,” despite being on the outskirts of “mainstream” North Shore.
We always stop by the bakery on our way back to town. The lackluster appearance doesn’t really bother me; in fact, it gives off a laid-back country vibe so apparent in Waialua town. I love seeing a piece of North Shore history doing so well and in the same place it all began 40 years ago. Most of all, I enjoy seeing the mix of locals and tourists coming out of that creaky sliding door with huge sugary grins, box of pastries in one hand and a purposefully-isolated pastry in the other. Nice to see something so simple still bring so much happiness to people.
A bag of coffee or mini donuts should tide you over for the long drive into town.
Once, we unknowingly arrived right before the bakery’s 50-percent-discount hour (6-7 p.m.). The lady behind the counter told us to “wait four minutes.” Confused, we did and reached for the piece of paper she handed us from the container in her hand. It was a hand-written number 1, carefully cut into a tiny square. As more and more customers squeezed into the tiny bakery, we then realized what was going on. End-of-the-day deals! That’s when you really see some happy people of the North Shore.
Exactly what kind of pastries? Two words, SNOW PUFFIES. Of course, Paalaa Kai has got an assortment of other decadent delights (freshly-baked breads, danishes, cookies, sandwiches and salads). But most people go for the snow puffies, which is a cross between a turnover and eclair – light, crisp, thick cream center, drizzled in chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar. When you see the “Snow Puffy Junky” shirt in their selection of bakery souvenirs, you can’t help but chuckle. So true for some.
Snow puffies. A must when on the North Shore of Oahu.
People also come here for the soft and fluffy Sada’s Malasadas. Named after the bakery’s original owner Sadamu Oka, these malasadas are made using the same recipe from 30 years ago. That says something about the character and longevity of this little bakery with such a huge following!
PAALAA KAI BAKERY • 66-945 Kaukonahua Rd., Waialua, HI 96791 • Opens daily 530am-7pm • 808-637-9795 • www.pkbsweets.com • Free parking available