If you visit Oahu, you'd be remiss not to try malasada (sometimes spelled "malassada") during your trip. These Portuguese-style doughnuts resemble large doughnut holes that are fried and rolled in sugar and were introduced to the islands in the 19th-century by workers from the Azores and Madeira. Many variations are filled with custard, chocolate, and haupia, a traditional Hawaiian dessert made from coconut milk. A staple for Monday-morning office runs and events of all kinds, the malasada is a celebrated island confection.
Ask a group of islanders about their favorite malasada shops in Oahu, and you're likely to hear an array of strong opinions about which bakery offers the best consistency and flavors, but a few shops are well-known for their delicious product year after year. Don't miss them when you're in Oahu.
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The lines are long at almost any time of the day at Leonard's Bakery in Honolulu. This popular malasada shop on Oahu is a must for island visitors and a treat for residents. Always-available flavors are original, cinnamon sugar and li hing (dried plum) sugar, or you can try one filled with custard, dobash (chocolate), haupia (coconut), or a rotating fourth flavor. Leonard's also makes pau doce, a Portuguese sweet bread. Other bakery items include cookies, cakes, and pies. Located on Kapahulu Avenue, the storefront opened in 1952 and has been a mainstay ever since.
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After 100 test batches, Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery in Kaimuki has come up with the perfect malasada: It leaves no oily aftertaste, doesn't deflate and tastes just as good the next day. Because of this, Pipeline has quickly become a favorite of locals. Malasada flavors include classic, cocoa and li hing. Its coffee malasada is mixed with sugar and Pipeline's own coffee blend. You won't find filled malasadas here—those aren't true to form. Pipeline also sells homemade cake bombs, brownies, cookies, scones and ice cream, all made from scratch without artificial colorings or ingredients.
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Since 1978, Kamehameha Bakery in Honolulu has been serving up some of the best malasadas on Oahu. You'll love the soft, fluffy haupia malasada made from coconut. The taro malasadas are also delicious. Kamehameha Bakery also uses taro to make its signature poi glazed doughnuts. Be sure to try the banana fritters and bear claws.
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Known for its haupia-filled malasadas, Liliha Bakery also offers a unique assortment of other baked goods as well. Different from its competitors, the bakery's malasadas are coated in powdered sugar rather than granulated sugar. They're also larger than others you might try across the island.