There is plenty to choose from in Hawaii when it comes to sweets and homemade goods. The wide array of mom-and-pop bakeries found throughout happens to be what makes the sweet scene so unique. Each bakery sells a pastry treat that is special to its storefront, like coco puffs from Liliha.
Locals and visitors will stop in for a quick sugary sampling to take on the road or to a picnic at the beach. Otherwise, you can bet that those visiting the islands will be stocking up on pastries to bring back home – by the boxful! Good news is that most of the bakeries know how to pack your snack for travel; just be sure to ask.
Although there are seriously so many bakeries to mention, I tend to stick to my favorites. Here’s an island-by-island breakdown on where to get the best of the best when it comes to satiating your sweet cravings.
LILIHA BAKERY (OAHU)
Ask For: Coco Puffs
The little bakery nestled in the heart of Līliha is a pastry machine when it comes to pumping out thousands of those chocolate-filled puffs – easily selling 7,000 in a single day. The oven’s fired up by 2 a.m. and doesn’t stop working till 10 p.m. everyday. Bite down through each savory layer of the coco puff – the chantilly frosting, the flaky outer crust and finally the creamy chocolate inside – and you’ll know why so many have gone kookoo for Liliha coco puffs.
ZIPPY’S (OAHU, MAUI)
Ask For: Napples
A napple is a flaky turnover with a sweet filling, like apples, chocolate, coconut and blueberry. I used to be obsessed with the apple napple. Maybe because I liked saying it or maybe because it reminded me of a slice of apple pie and with a scoop of ice cream, it was like a pie ala mode. So delicious. Order them by the box and bring them back home with you.
KANEMITSU BAKERY (MOLOKAI)
Ask For: Hot Bread
Hot bread is exactly what it sounds like: bread fresh out of the oven with a sweet filling mixed in the middle. My favorite is the blueberry cream cheese bread that has a sweet filling in every bite. Customers that want their bread really hot start lining up outside of the small Molokai mom-and-pop during those late-night hours.
HOMEMAID BAKERY (MAUI)
Ask For: Manju
Manju! It’s the buttery cousin to those globs of gooey goodness, better known as mochi, and has become an equally satisfying way to sweeten up life’s palate. Like mochi, manju is also a cake-like pastry made with glutinous rice paste; a few obvious differences include its texture and the goodies that fill these plumped pastries.
Anyone mad about manju will tell you there are two general types. One is the crisp golden ones you’ll find at Homemaid Bakery or at Kauai’s Menehune Food Mart. The other type – found at Maui’s Sam Sato’s restaurant – strays from the “norm” by making its manju much lighter and a little less flaky.
KOMODA STORE & BAKERY
Ask For: Cream Puffs, Stick Donuts
Have you heard of Maui’s famous donuts on a stick? Chances are, you probably haven’t; unless someone told you about them. They’re one of the few remaining inside scoops of Maui that you don’t always read in travel guides, so I’m here to tell you about T. Komoda Store & Bakery in Makawao.
Now back to those donut-kabobs…they’re exactly that. A skewer of small glazed donuts that can be pulled apart and shared among friends or nibbled from the stick. I’m not usually big on donuts, but everyone I know swears by this place. One guava malasada, a few glazed donuts and a chocolate cream puff later, and I was quickly convinced. The pillowy soft pastries were still warm, with a fresh coat of glaze and sugar that melted in your mouth.
MENEHUNE MART (KAUAI)
Ask For: Mochi and Manju
Driving by, most would mistaken the mart for just another 7-11 convenience store. After all, it does sell the usual convenience store stuff, like chips and sodas. But it’s the freshly-baked goodies that really set Menehune Mart a part from the rest. Manju, mochi and malasadas sell out almost as quickly as they’re made. The bentos are quite the hit, too. These grab-and-go style lunches fit in well at any beach picnic.
The best part about Menehune Mart’s manju selection is that there are lots of flavors. But my all-time favorites will always be the azuki bean and sweet potato flavors. I keep meaning to try the coconut one, but every time I go in, they’re already sold out of that flavor! It must be good.