Hawaii is known for many foods. They’re known for having amazing fish, hearty plate lunches, a love for SPAM and lighter-than-air shave ice. They’re also known for malasadas. A malasada is a Portuguese donut, made of balls of yeast dough that are deep fried and coated with sugar. The yeast dough is rich and buttery, much more like a brioche dough than the airy dough that is used for many yeast donuts. Unlike the donuts that you might find down at your local donut shop, these donuts have no hold in the center, though they are sometimes filled with fruit or custard fillings. You can find malasadas at many local coffee shops, bakeries and even grocery stores – though they’re often sold out by lunchtime – in Hawaii, but if you’re in Honolulu on Oahu, the best place to get them is Leonard’s Bakery.
Leonard’s Bakery has been making malasadas for more than six decades. They are so busy that their kitchen is constantly putting out fresh donuts – and that means that every malasada you buy there is going to be warm and fresh. The store isn’t very big, so there is often a line, but the staff move people through quickly and it won’t take as long as you think to get your donuts. Their malasads are huge, nearly the size of baseballs, and they come in a variety of flavors. I sampled the classic sugar coated type, as well as some of their filled varieties. They offer at least one seasonal flavor every month, too.
The classic sugar-coated malasadas were my favorite because I loved the light, buttery dough. The cinnamon sugar can’t be beat, and the Li hing Mui (spiced plum) is a great local specialty. The filled malasadsas are VERY generously filled and one is enough to make a meal. Try to bring someone with you when you visit so that you can try more than one flavor at a time!
933 Kapahulu Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96816