Leonard’s Bakery – Honolulu, HI
933 Kapahulu Avenue
The story of this local Hawaiian icon weaves through a touching tale of immigration from far away lands in the late-19th century, family ties, hard work, and the origins of how this popular Portuguese confection came to the Islands. I always love hearing the background of ethnic foods/restaurants transplanted to other countries.
Leonard’s bake shop required a larger sized, modern facility in the late 1950′s, and has been in their current location on Kapahulu Avenue ever since. It clearly has that era’s old school feel to it, from the moment you see the overhanging rafter with a pair of benches to sit on to enjoy your purchases inside, if you’re lucky. The parking lot can get busy as well, and I even witnessed a fender bender between two cars that were jostling to use one spot.
The L-shaped counter where you place your order with the staff is filled with various baked goods, but I think most people are here for the Malasadas. These deep fried, doughy balls of goodness coated in sugar are obviously not for the health conscious among us.
In general, Malasadas don’t have that distinct hole in the middle like doughnuts do, but some do have fillings (at Leonard’s they had custard, chocolate and coconut). As pictured in one of the signs on the counter, this month’s special was Lilikoi (a tart-tasting grapefruit/passion fruit native to many parts of Latin America, areas in the Pacific and even Africa).
As they are freshly made in the back, once you give your order, they come out boxed and ready to go. I’d recommend you get a few of each type, those dusted with white sugar, cinnamon sugar, and some with the fillings, to get a taste of each type available.
I think this is a growing trend, mainly to increase revenues from other sources when a food brand establishes itself, and Leonard’s also had peripheral goods for sale, including t-shirts. There was one design my friend liked, but unfortunately they were out of his size.
Without a space to enjoy our bounty, our group walked down the street back towards Waikiki, and found the air conditioned comforts of a seating area within a Safeway store. The aroma emerging from the open boxes flooded the space and we got the attention of several neighbors, who no doubt knew what we had.
The light but slightly crispy exterior and the fluffy inside was still quite warm when I bit into my first plain Malasada. The texture was not as dense as I thought, which made for eating more than one in a single sitting quite easy. I found the custard-filled variety equally as pleasing, and the slight coolness of the filling provided a contrast to the warmth of the dough. Oh, and the Lilikoi one we sampled, was pretty good too. I think combined with my tasting of Lilikoi mustard at Puka Dog, I’ve become quite the fan of this exotic fruit.