Hawaii is a wonderful mixing pot of different cultures: japanese, polynesian, filipino, chinese, portuguese, german, and the list goes on. Hawaii is one of two states in which non-hispanic whites do not make up the majority.
This unique mixture of cultures provides a variety of cuisines to try. I wanted to get some local flavor, step off the beaten path, while i was in Hawaii. My mom, recommended heading down to Kapahulu St, about 1.5 miles from Waikiki beach. There are some places like the Rainbow Drive-In that serves up a great lunch plate. While we didn't make it to the Rainbow Drive-In, I knew I wanted to check out Leonard's Bakery.
In 1882, two Portuguese immigrants came from San Miguel Island to Maui under a contract to work the sugar cane fields. 33 years later, their grandson Leonard was born. Leonard and his family moved to Honolulu, where he worked at Snowflake Bakery until he founded Leonard's Bakery in 1952. Not long after opening, Leonard's mother suggested making malasadas for Shrove Tuesday, a portuguese tradition. While they were afraid these treats might not appeal to the masses, they were an instant hit.
Malasadas are simply the portuguese take on donuts. Large pieces of dough fried in hot oil and rolled in sugar. Traditionally there were no fillings, but many places fill their malasadas with custard fillings. At Leonard's you can get malasadas filled with chocolate, coconut, and regular custards. In addition to the standard fillings, they offer a monthly flavor.
Where's my malasada?
6 Malasadas: sugar, cinnamon, and 4 filled custards (coconut, chocolate, regular, and lilikoi)
We got to the bakery early on Sunday morning. A line was beginning to form at 9am. Always a good sign. Looking at the menu, I knew I wanted to try a traditional sugar coated malasada, but choosing a filled flavor proved more difficult. We ended up trying one of each: sugar, cinnamon, coconut, chocolate, regular, and lilikoi. Lilikoi is the hawaiian name for passionfruit.
AJ and I took our donuts to a nearby coffee shop and got to work. AJ is a chocolate fiend, so that one was clearly his favorite. I was a huge fan of the coconut and lilikoi fillings. The coconut was sweet and fragrant. The lilikoi filling was slighly tangy and sweet. All of the fillings were still warm, which was wonderful.
While we didn't intend to eat every donut we purchased, we managed to polish off almost every one. These donuts were some of the best I have ever eaten. Warm from the oven, and filled to order, the people at Leonard's know what they're doing.
Bottom Line: If you find yourself in Oahu, you must make the trip to Leonard's for some great local eats.