Hawaii is an ethnic melting pot, which opens the door for thousands of excellent food spots. Typically you find four or five of your favorites and rotate between them throughout the week. If you’re like me, regular food is great, but sweets are where it’s at. Luckily for me, Hawaii has some of the most unique desserts in the country. Whether you’re born and raised on the islands or planning a vacation, as a self-proclaimed expert on local snacks, here are the top five sweets that you need to add to your rotation.
1. Poi Malasadas from Kamehameha Bakery
Everyone knows about the Poi Malasadas from Kam Bakery. Poi is traditionally a Native Hawaiian dish made from Taro, which is baked and then pounded into a paste. This flaky, soft donut is deep fried and then smothered in sugar that melts and hardens around it. The subtle taro flavoring works perfectly with this delicious pastry.
2. Uncle Clay’s Shaved Ice w/ Mochi Balls
You’ll hear about Matsumoto’s and Waiola, but Uncle Clay’s House of Aloha, or HOPA, is my personal favorite place to get shaved ice. The ice is fine, the syrup is plentiful, and the homemade mochi balls wrap it all together. Mochi is a sweet rice cake that is commonly served with ice cream and shaved ice in Hawaii. Top your shaved ice with condensed milk and some azuki beans and you’ve got yourself a winner.
3. Jello Cheesecake Squares from Zippy’s
The world needs to know about Zippy’s and Napoleon’s Bakery. There isn’t much to say about it because it speaks for itself. These geniuses slapped a thin slab of jello on top of a square of cheesecake with a perfect graham crust at the bottom. No Zippy’s meal is complete without something from Napoleon’s.
4. Poi Mochi Donuts at Liliha Bakery
Liliha Bakery is a local favorite for a reason. They took mochi, taro flavoring, and created a deep-fried pastry that’s chewy, sugary, and has the unique flavor of Hawaii. While you’re in Liliha, sit down and grab breakfast and go home with a box of these scrumptious donuts.
5. Chocolate + Vanilla Bakery’s Ube Butter Mochi
Butter mochi is another take on the Japanese rice treat, mochi, except it incorporates a ton of butter, which makes it even more delicious. Ube is a Japanese sweet potato and its used locally as a flavor for everything from ice cream to tea. Chocolate + Vanilla Bakery is known for its unique use of Ube in all kinds of different treats, but its Ube Butter Mochi is an absolute unit.