People who grew up in Hawaii will probably find it hard to believe that I've never stepped into Leonard's Bakery, home of the infamous malasada.
Don't get me wrong, I've eaten malasadas from Leonard's. But I usually got them at the Leonard's truck parked at carnivals and fairs. And I always enjoyed the airy Portuguese-style donuts coated with sugar that would get all over your clothes and around your mouth.
For many years, the malasada was why people visited Leonard's Bakery in Kapahulu, the neighborhood before Waikiki. And in recent years, Leonard's have expanded its malasada offerings, moving from the classic sugar-coated malasada to include li hing flavored malasadas (li hing is a Chinese flavoring used for preserved plums) and filled malasadas (think jelly donuts gone Hawaiian style).
So after dinner with my family one night, I suggested that we get some malasadas. Arriving at Leonard's, which remains open at night for people with the munchies along with tourists, I thought I'd find a fancy slick bakery. I mean, these people probably made millions selling malasadas.
But walking inside, the bakery looked like it probably did when it originally opened in 1952. It was a tiny bakery, with a small neighborly feel and a variety of baked goods in the glass counter. None of the malasadas are on display because they're kept fresh in the back where someone's probably making them non-stop.
The coated malasadas sell for 90 cents each, but are a bit cheaper by the dozen. I got half a dozen for $5.66 (three classic and three cinnamon coated). Then I added one each of the three filled flavors sold at $1.25 each (custard, dobash, and haupia). With my box of warm malasadas, I headed home for the taste test.
The classic sugar malasadas were what I remembered, really fluffy but messy to eat. As an adult, maybe now the malasadas might be too sweet for me. The cinnamon malasadas actually was disappointing because I could barely taste the cinnamon in the sugar.
And here are the three filled malasadas. I cut each one in half so you could see the filling.
First up was the custard, which is one of my favorite things. The custard from Leonard's had a nice texture and held up nicely when biting into it. BTW, the malasadas, filled or not, are quite big so you can get filled by just eating one or two. Can you imagined I ate just half of each of the filled and two of the regulars. I could barely sleep as my stomach was busy digesting dinner and my malasadas.
The dobash is a chocolate flavor that's very popular in Hawaii. Dobash cakes are standard for most bakeries, and is supposedly not as sweet as straight chocolate. The dobash squirted out as I cut into the malasada, so it was more wet than the custard. But I did enjoy the dobash filling, with a milder chocolate flavoring as advertised.
The last filled malasada is the haupia, which is a classic Hawaiian pudding made of coconut milk. The haupia barely stayed in the malasada after I cut into it. And while I enjoyed the haupia, it wasn't necessarily exciting and it was difficult to eat.
Of all these malasadas, I have to say I'm old-fashioned and probably would have been happy with just the classic. I also heard there's a new bakery in town competing for the malasada crown, but I didn't have time to compare the two. But it would have a big challenge ahead to topple the malasada king that is Leonard's.
Leonard's Bakery, 933 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu. PH: 808.737.5591. Open 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday; and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday. www.leonardshawaii.com
Wednesday, June 08, 2011