Mango is one of many mochi flavors at Bubbies. // © 2017 Bubbies Ice Cream & Desserts
Feature image (above): Visitors and locals alike flock to Matsumoto Shave Ice. // © 2017 Daeja Fallas/Hawaii Tourism Authority
A day out in the sun, coupled with the chilled-out vibes of an island vacation, will likely make traveling families — even the healthiest ones — fiend for a sweet treat. Worry not: We’ve got clients covered with these five only-in-Oahu sugar fixes.
Shave ice is a Hawaiian specialty — and there’s practically a spot on every corner offering this frosty treat — but a truly epic experience involves a drive to Oahu’s North Shore. Matsumoto Shave Ice has been serving the dessert with homemade flavored syrup since 1951 in the quaint town of Haleiwa. The family-owned business can serve up to 1,000 happy customers on a given day.
If a drive to the North Shore isn’t on the itinerary, Lemona Hawaii on Lewers Street in Waikiki is another hot destination for this frozen delight. Using fresh local ingredients — sometimes from its own garden — Lemona serves all-natural shave ice with flavors such as mango, papaya and Meyer lemon. And while many shave-ice shops use canned condensed milk, Lemona makes its own from organic milk.
Liliha Bakery is famous for its coco puffs — so much so that it sells between 4,800 and 7,200 of the delectable treats each day. The buttery, chocolate-filled puff pastry may be the most popular option, but Liliha also serves green tea and chantilly cream puffs.
“Liliha Bakery is a quick stop to or from the airport for families to get their sweet fix,” said owner Peter Kim. “Over 150 bakery items are made from scratch daily, which makes it an experience for families to decide what they want.”
To guarantee that everything is always as fresh as possible, expert bakers — some with up to 30 years of experience — work around the clock every day. Equally popular is Liliha’s Coffee Shop, which serves the island’s fluffiest pancakes.
For delicious baked goods in Honolulu, visitors need to find the iconic neon sign that marks Leonard’s Bakery. While everything in the case is delicious, Leonard’s is famous for malasadas — Portuguese doughnuts without a hole — and has been making them since 1952.
Clients can choose malasadas coated in white or cinnamon sugar or opt for doughnuts filled with custard, chocolate or haupia (coconut cream). The line may be long, but these treats are absolutely worth the wait — though it’s rare to see anyone actually wait to eat them.
Mochi is the name for creamy ice cream wrapped in a sweetened rice confection, and Bubbies Ice Cream & Desserts is the No. 1 destination for these “balls of happiness.”
The mochi at Bubbies — considered by many locals to be the perfect sweet snack — comes in 20 flavors, including guava, lychee and mango (plus chocolate and vanilla, of course).
Cupcakes are perfect kid-size treats, and on Oahu, a great place for the dessert is Hokulani Bake Shop.
“Hokulani Bake Shop was the first cupcakery in Honolulu and is a past winner of the Food Network television series ‘Cupcake Wars,’” said owner Marie Lau. “We offer locally inspired flavors such as Strawberry Guava, Shave Ice and Toasted Coconut, as well as traditional flavors including Red Velvet, Classic Vanilla and Chocolate.”
The shop’s cupcakes contain only natural ingredients, and its Lilikoi cupcakes — a Hokulani original — are made with 100 percent natural passion-fruit puree.
Mini-cupcakes are also available for little ones.