The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Honolulu, Day 2, Part 1: Malasadas from Leonard's, Japanese Snacks from Shirokiya, and Hokkaido Bread from Panya

I visited Honolulu with Kathy from May 9-16. Goal: Eat a ton. Goal status: ATTAINED! Now I just have to blog about it all. ...This may take a while.

I want one of these in my driveway too.

It was time. Malasada time.

What are malasadas? Short answer: Portuguese yeast doughnuts. Longer answer: Portuguese yeast doughnuts that make Kathy squeal with joy when she talks about them. If she were a cartoon character, the act of describing malasadas would cause her eyes to grow all saucer-sized and shimmery and her head would be surrounded by daggers of excitement. Like this:

20100525-tgwae-poofydoodle.jpg fat bunny creature-form.

Leonard's Bakery.

She's repeatedly told me that the ones from the Punahou Carnival are the best, but since we didn't have a time machine to go back to February when the carnival took place, she brought me to Leonard's Bakery for my first taste of malasada-derived happiness.


Leonards has been popping out fresh malasadas for over 50 years. They have a wide selection of pastries to choose from, but malasadas are the main draw, and my eyes went straight for the malasada menu. Unfilled malasadas dusted with white sugar, cinnamon, or li hing sugar are just 70 cents each. For just 30 cents more you can them filled with custard, dobash (chocolate), haupia (coconut), or the Flavor of the Month, which for May was mango.

plain malasada mmm, soft and...fried and...awesome
Plain malasada.

After a short wait, we received hot golden blobs of sugar-dusted dough. The plain malasada had a pillowy, slightly chewy texture, and was only a touch sweet. Hell yes, it was good stuff. It's a doughnut at its peak—just pulled from the fryer. I'm sure even a doughnut from Dunkin Donuts would taste good if it were so fresh. I wouldn't want to eat a malasada any other way.

mango cream-filled mango cream go SQUISH

I liked the mango cream-filled malasada more than the plain because, if you hadn't noticed, it's full of mango-flavored cream. Mango-flavored cream. While filled doughnuts aren't usually my favorite due to imbalance between the filling and the pastry, this doughnut was just right: There wasn't too much nor too little cream, and the mildly flavored, not too sweet cream melded well with its bready covering.

But the most important thing was that it was hot and hadn't been sitting on a shelf for hours before I ate it. If I want that experience in New York City, I'd have to go to a restaurant that fries them to order or make sure to visit a doughnut shop whenever "fresh doughnut liberation" takes place. And if that involves waking up at some ungodly hour, I ain't doing it. (I've never had a fresh Krispy Kreme doughnut before, but I'm going to assume that fresh malasadas are better.)


LONG DONUT butterflakemmm buns strawberry short cake

After our malasada breakfast, Kathy drove us to the Ala Moana Center to eat at Shirokiya, a Japanese department store with an awesome food court on the second floor. First, she showed me Saint-Germain on the first floor, a bakery she worked at during high school mostly so she could eat lots of pastries for free. That's a hell of a lot better than when I worked at Stop & Shop during high school with no freebies in sight. I wanted a cream-filled doughnut. And a red bean bun. And a slice of strawberry shortcake. And everything else.

rice balls katsu!!@@!#!#@! fried chicken poke and stuff
Or maybe I want all of this...

But then I got to the second floor and the seconds-old memories of Saint Germain went poof, to be replaced by rows of tonkatsu, and sushi, and musubi, and things with rice, and bentos, and noodles, and poke, and taiyaki, and fried chicken, and more. Each stand had its own specialty (I was particularly happy to see a stand for unagi; grilled Japanese eel has been one of my favorite dishes since childhood, and I will continue to love it posthumously, because unlike my corporal body, my love JUST WON'T DIE) and I wanted to eat at every single one.

But I couldn't eat at every single one. Because I am just a weak human, and that weakness entails limited stomach space, and sensitive emotions, and other things.

butterflake pastry layer
Mm, butterflake.

So Kathy and I only shared a few things, starting with a butterflake from Saint Germain. It lived up to its name quite well, that is, it was made of a gazillion paper-thin layers separated by butter. Or fused together by butter. The top exposed part had some crustiness, while the rest was soft and a bit chewy. It's good for fulfilling those cravings for something carby, buttery, and a little more sweet than savory, but not a dessert.

custard obanyaki Obanyaki innards

We also shared two custard-filled obanyaki, sort of like a puck-shaped pancake with custard in the middle (red bean is the other common filling). I'm under the impression that the fish-shaped taiyaki is more popular, but I prefer the round/ovoid shape of obanyaki. We unfortunately got ones that had been pre-made and wrapped in plastic, but they were still appealingly soft and spongy, just lacking the outer crust you get with fresh ones.

I never understood why fresh obanyaki/taiyaki aren't more popular in New York City. They seem easy enough to make; you just need the right mold. Damn it, I'll just buy a lil' mold for myself. I could fill them with butter and maple syrup. Oh man. Oh. Man.

Spam musubi
Spam musubi.

For the savory part of the meal, we shared some fancier-than-average Spam musubi featuring sliced Spam (lightly seasoned from the looks of it) on a seaweed and sesame seed-coated patty of rice, topped with a smaller slice of tamagoyaki, wrapped in a band of nori. It's a nice variation on the basic Spam musubi Kathy taught me how to make; instead of just rice and Spam, you get egg, rice, and Spam. That's more balanced. Right? Maybe.


Before leaving Shirokiya, I bought some pretty candies. Because I like rainbows just as much as the next five-year-old. Not the one above; I went for an assorted fruit pack where each piece featured an intricate fruit design, sort of like Papabubble but not ridiculously expensive.

I hug fat hamster

Actually, the last thing I did before leaving the store was hug this giant hamster. I don't need real love; I just need obese plush toys. Like the next five-year-old.



A short walk away from Shirokiya is Panya. Japanese bakeries galore = happy Robyn.

Huge bun whoaa! Hokkaido bun
Hokkaido bread.

Kathy told me to try their most famous offering, Hokkaido bread, "A Delicious and Memorable Experience" according to the packaging. I'm sold. I didn't go for the beach ball-sized "Big Top" version though, just the single-serving bun. The slightly sweet, light and fluffy milk bread is enhanced by a sweeter, mostly soft crust that envelopes the top of the bun. Like the butterflake, it's another pleasant, sort of neutral carb-based snack (although more on the dessert side than the butterflake).

I'm planning to write one or two more parts to Day 1. It was a long day. Yeup..


Leonard's Bakery
933 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu HI 96816 (map)

Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)

Also in the Ala Moana Center


Nicholas / May 25, 2010 9:28 PM

Why is it more expensive (by 1 cent) to buy a dozen, rather than 2 1/2 dozens? Yet it's cheaper to get 2 dozen than 4 1/2 dozens? AND AN OUTRAGEOUS 2 CENTS EXTRA FOR 2.5 DOZENS (vs. 5 1/2 dozens).

Fun fact re: the obanyaki, they also have peanut, sesame, taro, and oddly enough... cabbage/turnip filled ones :).

Marvo / May 26, 2010 1:36 AM

God, how I love those bentos at Shirokiya. It's so hard for me to decide which bento to pick up. I circle around the area several times before I decide what to pick up.

Fresh Leonard's malasada > Fresh Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Jesika / May 26, 2010 1:49 AM

"deparmten"= department, right? aw your typo made me lol in the best way :)

roboppy / May 26, 2010 2:01 AM

Nicholas: I have no idea what's up with those prices. But you just keep on asking those hard hitting questions! "BAKERY PRICES: WUTTUP WITH EM?"

I want a taro one! Warh.

Belinda: I hope you got a dessert!

Anna: I think I might want the hamster more than the butterflake. Hamster would last longer.

Marvo: I WANTED EVERY DAMN BENTO they are so pretty. Abnd I wanted those rice balls, which are just...balls of..rice..pretty balls of rice with stuff mixed in. Man I love rice.

Jesika: Oh god,, what the hell is that? ;_; FAIL!

You have hit upon one reason I am less enthusiastic about writing entries these days: because I know I have to edit them, and as is made apparent every day at work, I'm a pretty slow editor. I didn't edit this one yet; it shows! Okay it's 1:54, I will do it now. :)

Kumi / May 26, 2010 8:19 AM

Wow, lovely pictures as always. I totally agree with you on the Taiyaki. They are sooooo good but there is like none in New York City! The only closest place for me to get them fresh is Mitsuwa Marketplace (if you haven't been there you should =])

Julie / May 26, 2010 11:12 AM

Oh my blood sugar! It hurts so good . . .

I wonder if Hokkaido bread is the authentic version of King's Hawaiian bread ( I've always loved that stuff.

Marsha Calhoun / May 26, 2010 12:45 PM

Okay, those windmill fruit candies - I regressed right along with you. Were they wonderful? I don't really care how they taste, but it would be nice to know if they were wonderful. They look wonderful, and that's probably enough.

Haein / May 26, 2010 3:18 PM

I absolutely love malasadas and hokkaido bread from panya. It's a weekly ritual to indulge in one or the other, or both! And doesn't shirokiya have the best bentos? Their selection is wonderful. Even when I'm full, I love feasting my eyes on everything.

Lila / May 26, 2010 4:47 PM

Mmmm poke! Give me a mixing bowl of that stuff, plus a serving spoon and I'm quiet for about an hour! Can't wait to read more yay!

Angeline / May 26, 2010 5:52 PM

Omg (pretend I pronounced it Oh-Em-Gee), the food looks so good! My cousin went to Hawaii for his honeymoon and ate most of his meals at Cheesecake Factory.

I once bought a can of spam intending to try making spam masubis but never got around to it. I think I still have the can of spam.

roboppy / May 26, 2010 10:56 PM

Kumi: I LOVE MITSUWA!!! Just a little too far for me to go whenever I get an obanyaki craving, unfortunately. I've been eating their obanyaki ever since I was a little kid! My mom would buy it in packs of gooood.

Julie: I wasn't under the impression that Hokkaido bread was related to sweet bread, but THEY ARE BOTH DELICIOUS and I would like to use both of them as burger buns. Hmmmmyes.

Marsha: The fruit candies I tried were pretty good!...or maybe I just think so because they were so pretty. ;_;

Haein: Ohh god those bentos looked so awesome. I'd wanna eat there every day.

Lila: I wish I had eaten more poke! Ahh well, next time.

Angeline: Kathy told me that the Cheesecake Factory in Waikiki is the most profitable one in the world...or something like that. :O I've only eaten there a handful of times. I think I enjoyed it.


chendol / May 27, 2010 3:44 PM

Nicholas: I was wondering the same thing too! I read the price list again. It may actually be cheaper to buy more, cos the prices for half a dozen and above include taxes. the price listed for 1 malasada excludes tax.

all these pictures are making me SO HUNGRY! GAH!

egeria / May 27, 2010 6:17 PM

Remind me not to read your blog when I've just had dental surgery and can't eat. :( I am going to go to bed now and dream of all these wonderful things and my tummy will be as happy as if I'd eaten them myself right? Ahh the power of positive food thinking! :))


A Canadian Foodie / May 28, 2010 8:11 AM

OMGosh! Heavenly Housewife just referred me to you as we are travelling to Paris in July. I have been there many times... but not in the past 10 year, and not with my husband... always with my students on teacher and school tours. So, this is going to be so much fun. I am a serious foodie and a professional foods teacher. I would love a couple of personal tips from you (or to hire you for a day to take me on a foodie tour!).
We have only one week. So far, I have booked a macaron making class at Lenotre... and I may be in trouble as I speak only base French. I may have to switch to The Cordon Bleu's bread baking day... I need to find out about language support at each place. My husband is NOT a foodie... but he does love the touring with me... and I do his things, too! :)
Which outdoor market of the many there would you recommend? We are staying in the Latin Quarter - but are a get around couple
Where could I feast my eyes and fill my suitcases with gourmet baking items (violette extracts, etc) and buy cooking and baking supplies?
What restaurant would you recommend (I know there are SO many) but we have been to The French Laundry and The Fat Duck. I am looking for the quintessential French dining experience in Paris.
I sure hope I have not invaded your personal space with my enthusiasm and questions.

Diana / May 28, 2010 9:00 AM

They do sell the custard filled beauties in New York City! There's a little stand around the Grand St. station in Chinatown. Not sure if it lives up to obanyaki standards as I've only had it once, but they're hot and fresh so they're pretty dece.

Cleone / May 28, 2010 6:10 PM

Oh my. I am heading to Ala Moana in a few minutes. This post has persuaded me to make a stop at Shirokiya and Panya! That butterflake looks simply divine. Can't wait to read about the rest of your trip!

sophia / May 29, 2010 1:35 PM

I love you more now that you share my penchant for bakeries, aka CARBS. That's almost all I did in HK...visit every single damn bakery!

roboppy / May 30, 2010 1:38 AM

egeria: I hope your mouth feels better after a few days.. ;_; And that you reward yourself with DELICIOUS THINGS!

A Canadian Foodie: Thanks for stopping by! I'm afraid I'm not familiar with outdoor markets (I didn't visit as many as I should've) and I don't really cook much so...I don't have much to say about ingredient/kitchen supply stores either. Off the top of my head, I remember that E. Dehillerin is a famous kitchen store. And even though I ate a lot in Paris, I don't think I did much in the ways of "quintessential French dining experiences," at least, nothing akin to The French Laundry or The Fat Duck (I was there as a college student). ..Man, what was I blogging about for those four months?

So..I think I will just direct you to two of my most trusted sources on Paris eats, David Lebovitz and Dorie Greenspan. Those posts are a few years old; if you poke around their sites you can probably find more info.

Diana: Wuut omg ...I gotta keep my eye out for that. Thanks for the info!

Cleone: I hope you got some butterflake action! Or another tasty baked good. Of which there are many.

sophia: I'd love to go to HK and eat tons of pastries! And ...Chinese food...yes.

kooby / May 31, 2010 10:50 AM

Robyn, they sometimes have taiyaki at Hibino in Cobble Hill. Have you been there? Anyways, it is Kyoto style food, so they have a rotating obanzai menu (the best, and so reasonable), so you have to see if taiyaki is on the menu (they have a blog they update with the specials each day). I'm sure it's not as good as Hawaii, bc nothing is =), but maybe it will carry you through the dry spells??

Audrey / May 31, 2010 5:41 PM

Amazing!! I am leaving for Honolulu in a week so I am looking forward to hearing your recommendations :)

Cleone / May 31, 2010 10:06 PM

Yes, I got some butterflake action! I also saw a butterflake donut but did not get it. I will have to go back again. I also got some fresh mochi from the 3rd floor Shirokiya food market and some takoyaki with mayo ponzu. O.M.G. delish! The takoyaki reminds me of the ones at Otafuku in the East Village. (By the way, I am a Hawaii transplant from NYC!)

dreamecho / June 1, 2010 3:36 PM

Gosh, this brings back memories. I'm from Honolulu (I think I went to the same school as Kathy?), and I LIVE for malasadas. To me, Leonard's and Punahou Carnival's are equally delicious, but in slightly different ways. Strangely, the Leonard's ones still taste great day later, but day-old Carnival ones are kind of soggy. I've never had a mango cream filled one, so I'll have to add that to my list.

gloria / June 1, 2010 11:32 PM

aw, squealing bunny kathy is really cute. man, what i would do to be able to see everyone as cute squealing bunnies...

ugh, i tried to avoid this site (sorry), but whenever your blog comes up, i HAVE to look at the pictures. and i can't look at the pictures without reading the words. before i know it, i'm reading the comments and putting in my own. and now i've relapsed back into this addictive blog.

squealing bunnies, malasadas, giant hamsters. *puts hand over head and mimes brain exploding from cuteness overload*

tasteofbeirut / June 3, 2010 6:45 PM

I would love to try those! Just the name is evocative enough to lure me! Unfortunately in Lebanon we have been flooded with dunkin donuts chains!

roboppy / June 4, 2010 10:42 AM

PB: It was too much to eat, but I'd do it again, of course!

kooby: I haven't been to Hibono; thanks for the info!

Audrey: Sorry I can't update my blog quickly enough for your trip, but you can check out my photos on flickr to see what I ate!

Cleone: Ahh I didn't eat enough mochi during my trip! Shall do that next time.

dreamecho: Someday I must try a Punahou malasada FRESH FROM THE FRYER.

Gloria: Don't get too addicted; I don't update enough. :'[ FAAAIL! I'm afraid the next post won't have any bunnies, malasadas, or giant hamsters. It will just have a lot of food!

tasteofbeirut: We're flooded with DD in NYC too. Waaaah. I wish we had better donuts.

roboppy / June 4, 2010 10:45 AM

PB: It was too much to eat, but I'd do it again, of course!

kooby: I haven't been to Hibono; thanks for the info!

Audrey: Sorry I can't update my blog quickly enough for your trip, but you can check out my photos on flickr to see what I ate!

Cleone: Ahh I didn't eat enough mochi during my trip! Shall do that next time.

dreamecho: Someday I must try a Punahou malasada FRESH FROM THE FRYER.

Gloria: Don't get too addicted; I don't update enough. :'[ FAAAIL! I'm afraid the next post won't have any bunnies, malasadas, or giant hamsters. It will just have a lot of food!

tasteofbeirut: We're flooded with DD in NYC too. Waaaah. I wish we had better donuts.

Eileen / June 6, 2010 2:10 PM

Dude, masaladas are awesome!! And I'm pretty sure Fay Da sells giant plain masaladas too, except they call it "Filipino bread" or something. That's where I usually get mine since that's the only source of masalada I know, but you're really lucky to get to try such delicious ones in Hawaii!!

Sarah / September 30, 2010 6:11 PM

Oooohhh thanks for showing me these! I had no idea that Shirokiya had such yummy pastries! They always seemed so touristy I just steered clear. Show me to judge a book by its cover. Everything looks delish- can't wait to try! Thank you again!


Chris / March 24, 2011 12:05 PM

So amazing your killing me... I grew up going to visit my aunt every year in Honolulu. Leonard's Bakery was a huge part of my existence as well as toy/cake consuming at SHIROKIYA. I loved the guava cake. Leonard's used to make 3d cakes for kids made of some type of marshmallow frosting. I remember getting an Empire Strikes Back cake there and towing it back to New York. The cake got to ride first class as we were rode back in coach. If you are ever there again I hope you try the Flaky Donuts at Napoleon Bakery/Zippy's. Though everyone goes crazy for the Apple Naples I can't get over the unique texture and taste of the Flaky Donut. Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories.

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