With the start of the new year, Sonia and I are going to try something new as part of the blog. For each destination that we visit, we will do a donut crawl to find local and unique pillowy gems about which to write. Our first destination for the year – Hawaii.
When one thinks of Hawaii, thoughts of macadamia nuts, pineapples, coconuts, poi and kalua pork are probably more prominent than that of donuts. To our delight though, we came across some very delicious and diverse eats.
Before getting to the donuts, one thing to note is that Mr. Donut’s & Bakery is located in a downtown area so it does not have a dedicated parking area for the store. Sonia and I found a few parking options, but all of them were paid lots, and they were not cheap. We ended up parking at the garage at Bishop Place (1132 Bishop Street), which was about $4 for a half hour and is very close to the store.
When we entered the store, the first thing we noticed was the size of the donuts. We immediately knew that because this was our first stop for the day, we would either be sharing or saving half for later. While Mr. Donut’s does make a signature donut that gets rave reviews, we opted for an apple fritter and a banana frosting.
Both were good and full of flavor, but for us, these were reminiscent of Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts back home. To be very clear, that’s not a bad thing, but when it came to taste and flavors, we were looking for something more unique and local. If you want a good donut though to satisfy a craving, Mr. Donut’s bakery fits that bill nicely.
Mr. Donut’s & Bakery is located at 134 S. Hotel Street.
The next stop on our donut crawl was Regal Bakery. While there are multiple locations, we went to the Regal Bakery by the airport. First comment, get there early. We arrived around 11:00ish, and by that time, a good number of the donuts were sold out. However, even with a limited selection, there was still an amazing variety to choose from – Rum and Cola, Green Tea, Strawberry Delight, Muddy, and our donut of choice the Bacon Maple.
As bacon-a-holics, Sonia and I have had more than a few bacon donuts in our time, but this topped them all. The mix of the salty bacon with the maple glaze in proportion to the size of the donut lends to a perfectly balanced bite. Visually, the bacon chunks just add to the delight because you can appreciate the bacon crumbles as being real bits of bacon and not something that is just bacon flavored. In hindsight, our 2 biggest mistakes from this donut crawl were deciding to buy 1 donut to share and not trying some of the other donuts. Mistakes we are sure not to repeat when we return here.
Regal Bakery has multiple locations in Honolulu, but the location visited can be found at 3040 Ualena Street.
Our last stop for traditional donuts was Kamehameha Bakery. Unfortunately, we we too late to get any of their specialty donut – the poi glazed, but we made up for it by picking up some of their other baked goods. We’ll add those pictures to our instagram shortly. Kamehameha Bakery is located at 1284 Kalani Street.
With the donuts down, it was time to move on to the malasadas. Malasadas are Portuguese in origin and are essentially a donut in that it is a fried ball of dough. They come plain with granulated sugar or you can get them filled. When trying to find the best malasada, it looks like Honolulu is split between Leonard’s and Champion.
Based on our crawl, we hit Champion first. While ordering, we were told that if we wanted the plain sugar malasada then we could get that one cooked now so it would be hot and fresh. We ordered one plain as well as a custard filled one.
The plain malasada came to us right from the fryer, and I can see why they are served this way. At Champion, the front has an view straight to the kitchen ares, so as soon as we ordered, we could see the malasada from ordering to getting dropped into the fryer to being served to us. From the first bite, we noticed that the malasada had a nice, crunchy texture on the outside. The inside was soft and doughy with a hint of egginess.
As for the custard filled malasada, this was served from the case so it wasn’t hot from the fryer. It was still fresh though and was filled with enough custard so that every bite had some. While not served hot, we would still recommend trying the filled ones. The dough is still nice and fresh with the filling being flavorful and abundant.
Champion Malasadas is located at 1926 S. Beretania Street.
The other half of the malasada debate involves Leonard’s Bakery. If you go with history, then Leonard’s holds the advantage of introducing malasadas to Hawaii. That’s a big statement to live up to, and they do not disappoint. Like Champion, the plain sugar malasada was served fresh and hot. We couldn’t see back into the kitchen area, so we couldn’t tell if it was dropped in the fryer from when we ordered or if there is just a continuous flow of fresh malasadas coming out to meet the constant demand.
Leonard’s Bakery is located at 933 Kapahulu Avenue.
After having both malasadas, we couldn’t pick a favorite, but both had clear highlights over the other. We liked the outside of the malasadas at Champion and the inside of the ones at Leonard’s. We can conclude though is everyone should try both and decide on their own. In the end, you can never have enough malasadas.