3 - 2 - 1... FIGHT!

When anyone asks what they should eat when in Hawaii, one answer is always malasadas. Heck. Even from a locals standpoint, malasadas are a go-to if you want to impress someone at a meeting, or bring something to lesson the torture during some mandatory professional development. For those that aren’t from here, or live under a rock, a malasada is basically a fried donut coated in sugar, sugar, and more sugar. I mean, who doesn’t love a good donut? And don’t bother trying to eat it all nice and clean. Your mouth will be coated in sugar, as will your grubby little fingers. Don’t even waste any napkins ‘til you’re done. Oh, and you can’t try to pull a fast one and sneak-eat one of these. I tried that once and was caught red-handed with granules of sugar all over my face. Totally busted.

Best when eaten hot and fresh, here’s how my malasada fight went down.

PENNY'S MALASADAS

Food Battle: Malasadas

Location: Hukilau Marketplace in Laie – super far and located in the parking lot of Polynesian Cultural Center

Hours: Mon – Sat 9am – 7pm

Parking: Plenny, since it’s the parking lot of the Hukilau Marketplace at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Price: $5.25 for a basket of 3 plain (coated in cinnamon sugar or white sugar), $6.75 for a basket of 3 filled (acai, coconut custard, nutella were the fillings of the day when I went), comes out to $1.75 each

Size: a bit bigger than the palm of my hand

The Initial Bite: Piping hot and made to order. Super soft and fluffy inside. Lighter than the average malasada doughiness. The airy consistency allows you to eat more of them without feeling overly heavy and greasy. Trust me. I know.

Overall Experience: When going to the North Shore, all da way in Laie, this is a must stop. We made a quick detour here after eating Giovanni’s Shrimp at the OG truck in Kahuku. You’ll feel like a tourist and it’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This food truck has plenty of seating in front and other cute eating options in the vicinity! Super chill.

LEONARD'S BAKERY

Location: 933 Kapahulu Ave. (*There are a couple of mobile food trucks around the island, but this is the OG)

Hours: opens 5:30 am daily, closes 10 pm Sun – Thurs, 11 pm Fri & Sat
Parking: Parking lot in front but it is tiny, street

Price: $7.80 for 6 (malasadas coated in original sugar, cinnamon, or li hing), $9.90 for 6 (malasada puffs = with filling – flavor of the month when I went: Pumpkin), $1.30 for one, $1.65 for one with filling

Size: a bit bigger than the palm of my hand

The Initial Bite: Hot and made to order. When you bite into it, the whole donut kind of flattens and then slowly puffs back up, but not all the way. The dough is on the denser side and feels heavier than it looks. 

Overall Experience: This place is usually bursting at the seams with droves of tourists stopping by at this iconic bakery. Though the lines are always long, it goes by pretty fast. And you do tend to feel a bit rushed and under pressure when ordering, because they are just cranking out these orders one after another after another. One lady takes your order, then you scoot on down and pay at another station. Then, you wait for your order number to be called. This is definitely a to-go type of place.

PIPELINE BAKESHOP & CREAMERY

Location: 3632 Waialae Ave. Honolulu, HI 96816 – Kaimuki

Hours: Mon – Sat 9am – 7pm

Parking: Parking lot behind the building (free for the first hour), street

Price: $1.50 each, $1.70 flavored (sugar flavors: classic, cocoa, coffee, lihing, & a special)

Size: about the palm of my hand

The Initial Bite: No surprise. Piping hot and made to order. The outside has a slight crunch and the inside is pillowy soft. With every bite I took, the malasada magically sprang back into its original shape. Like bite, smash, boing, bite, smash, boing. Quite impressive.

Overall Experience: Pipeline is ideal for getting basically any dessert your heart desires. Everything is made in house and their menu is, by far, the largest–from homemade ice cream, to cake bombs, cookies, and other various pastries, this joint is sure to please anyone with a sweet tooth. Very cute cafe with teal/turquoise interior. Plenty seating, bright, and casual.

SO WHO WON THE FIGHT?

It’s a close one, albeit almost a tie. But seriously — who likes a tie? Even my husband and I couldn’t agree on this one. We argued about it up to the minute I’m writing this, bringing up even the most minuscule detail to sway the fight score. For this malasada battle, the winner goes to Penny’s. The outer crust had a nice crunch, the inside was a pillowy dream, and we finished the basket of three wanting more. Their fillings change, but there are always three to choose from. I guess in this case, less is more. Malasadas are the only food on the menu, so trust me when I say they know what they’re doing. Worth the long drive out to Laie!