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My Top 5: Best bakeries on the island

Pastry chef Ed Morita gives his list of where to get the best donuts, pastries and cakes

Posted May 10, 2011 by Ed Morita

Top bakeries (1 of 18)

Top bakeries

By Ed Morita

I'm going to be brutally honest. Honolulu has some crappy bakeries. Some of the items sold at grocery stores, discount superstores and even gourmet markets are appalling. People buy Costco croissants that have no flakiness. They pick up pies out of a supermarket freezer, and the last time I visited Whole Foods, I found a basket filled with dense, over-proofed baguettes.

Yet, despite the proliferation of mediocre bakeries, there are a few standouts that I regularly visit, usually for a specific pastry or dessert. I was asked to list my top five favorite bakeries on the island, but in the tradition of the baker's dozen, I'm going to give you a bonus.


  1. Melissa808
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Don’t be modest! Tell your readers where Diamond Head Market’s (now The Alley’s) scone recipe came from!

  2. Posted May 10, 2011 at 8:15 am

    @Melissa808 Yes! Those scones rock!!!

  3. Posted May 10, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Great stuff, Ed! Love the first line. :) Need to try HALF of these bakeries… some of my favorites include:

    - Liliha Bakery — coco puffs are probably one of my favorite things in the world

    - I actually really like zippys Napoleon bakery. Can’t eat anyone else’s dobash

    - When I was young, we used to get butter rolls from a small bakery in Waianae called Myles Bakery. I loved those things.

    Not very gourmet, but those are a couple of my faves!

  4. Posted May 10, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Dude awesome post, DH Market has the best scones so now i wonder what @Melissa808 is talking about. Now not to question your authority because I’m not a baker and I know there could only be six… was Watanabe’s or Saint Germaine’s one the list. I have tried all of the bakeries except “The Alley” so i agree they are all good. Maybe I’m spoiled in SG’s because it was across from Apple Store Ala Mo so I ate it a lot.

  5. yuenhdz
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I want to try that lemon crunch cake!

  6. john.p
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 8:30 am

    What about Paalaa Kai, Kilani, Ted’s, and Sunnyside?

  7. 808guy
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 9:41 am

    So where do you get a great flaky croissant and a crusty, not over-proofed baguette?

  8. Posted May 10, 2011 at 10:03 am

    The thing I miss most ever since I moved here from Europe? Well, good bread and bakeries sure are on my top list lol. I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with the bread here, but it misses something.. it’s just not the same tasty stuff I was used to. I don’t care too much about pastries and such, but good bread surely is hard to find here. It’s sad I never got to try the German bakery that used to be Dillingham blvd, I found out about them after they just closed :(

    btw, about the flakiness of the Costco croissants, that’s easily solved by placing them in the oven for a short bit, it really helps a lot :)

  9. lihinggirl
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 11:10 am

    *drool* thanks ed for sharing! =)

  10. nonstopmari
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    i also like the simple cream puff at palme d’or. u taste pate a choux and fresh cream, and that’s it. also like fendu bc u can get a fresh-baked pizza at the same time. and liliha bakery’s pumpkin pies!!! can’t take coco puffs bc they’re too heavy and sweet for me, but i’m always thinking abt the pumpkin pies.

  11. edmorita
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    @docrock what @Melissa808 was not-so-subtly hinting at was that the Diamond Head Market/Aiea Bowl scones are my recipe. The pastry chef, Shane Masutani, was my junior apprentice after culinary school and I gave him that recipe. So, I know how the scones are supposed to be. Shane makes them correctly at Aiea Bowl while whoever it is that is making them at Diamond Head Market is over mixing the dough which causes them to flatten out and get cakey when they bake.

  12. edmorita
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    @johngarcia yeah, if this were a top ten, @zippys would be in.

  13. edmorita
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    @svache but, if I’m paying for croissants, I shouldn’t have to go home and re-bake them. If I’m firing up my oven, I may as well make them myself.

  14. edmorita
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    @nonstopmari I like the pumpkin crunch from Aiea bowl.

  15. mochicrunch10
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Donuts??? What about Deluxe Bakery in Kaneohe… or Kam Bakery in Kalihi… Missed some of the best kept Hawaii secrets.

  16. edmorita
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    @lihinggirl anytime!

  17. edmorita
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    @john.p I’m sure that many people will disagree with me, but I’m not really a fan of Ted’s pies.

  18. edmorita
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    @808guy Fendu has some crusty breads. The bakery at the super safeway on Kapahulu has some good bread too. As for croissants, I love the ones from Halekulani. Bale and Nanding’s bakery also have great croissants.

  19. edmorita
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    @mochicrunch10 Kam Bakery’s yeast donuts and an pans are great but I don’t care for any of their fried stuff. They taste like the iron kettle they were fried in. Also, this was a top 5… Well six… so a lot of great bakeries were in consideration, but I had to wittel down the list. There are a lot of hotels like Helekulani that have phenomenal bake shops, there’s JJ’s, Manny’s, Nanding’s, Sunnyside, all of which are list worthy. I had to pick five, I squeezed in a sixth. Just because they didn’t make the list doesn’t mean that I don’t think that what they do isn’t great.

  20. 808pooh
    Posted May 10, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I have to agree with you Ed about the scones at the Alley. Way better than the ones at Diamond Head Market although the banana flavor one is very very yummy. Have you tried the strawberry shortcake at the Alley? Heavenly! Perfect! not sweet at all and it hits the spot. Lemon crunch da bomb. But i must say the scones do run out quick.

  21. bettydalycity
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Having lived in San Francisco for so many years I miss old fashion style bakeries back in Hawaii. Here in San Francisco you cannot find doubash cake any where or orange chiffon cake. Too many usscale bakeries with European style pastiries out there no much now in all American types anymore.

    Kam bakery on School St. with their hapia donut was awesome back then and still is now and HCC own baking class make the best ever and such a good price for public all fresh made every day . Looking for good deal check HCC.

  22. turkfontaine
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    here’s a list with street cred. here’s a list with a pedigree. here’s a list you can take to the bank, print, fold and stash in your wallet next to your bus pass. i’m on this list like a hobo on a ham sandwich.

  23. hanabanana
    Posted May 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Where can I find an old fashioned chocolate cake with fudge frosting? (Not the chocolate chiffony ones? ) Do you remember the old fashioned chocolate cake from the now closed 9th Ave. Bakery? That’s the texture we’ve been looking for.

  24. hanabanana
    Posted May 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Help! I’m looking for an old fashioned chocolate fudge cake with fudge frosting. (not the chiffony type). We miss that cake from the now closed 9th Ave Bakery.

  25. Posted May 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    @edmorita I agree we shouldn’t have to re-bake them in order to get some flakiness back but at the other hand is it not uncommon in Europe to shortly re-bake croissants (or other breads, such as the German Kaiser breads). I know we did it a lot, even when they were still flakey, it tasted way better because they became warm again, it was common practice. Besides, placing them in the oven to get the flakiness again only takes a short time, it’s nothing compared to actually having to bake them yourself imho :)

  26. harrycovair
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    @yuenhdz Aiea Bowl. Go shopping downstairs at Times. Run upstairs for dessert or a meal from Glenn.

  27. harrycovair
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    @edmorita @808guy Nanding’s Spanish Rolls. So ono. Too bad there’s only limited parking in the area. Never go to Nanding’s during the morning rush hour. Wait till traffic has subsided a little before going there.

  28. harrycovair
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    @svache Fritz’s European Bakery. They had the best Black Forest Cake, hands down!

  29. harrycovair
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    @edmorita @mochicrunch10 I’m not sure if Sunnyside qualifies as a Bakery. Their main product line is still the plate lunch although their pies are quite good. The crust stay dry and moist even when filled with a pudding filling.

    As for Kamehameha Bakery, the Taro Haupia is the bomb and is one of the few things that make that isn’t deep fried as you pointed out Ed.

  30. harrycovair
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    @hanabanana Mmmm, 9th Avenue Bakery’s Popovers. Those were ono.

  31. harrycovair
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Anyone remember Alexander and Young Bakery on Bishop Street? They made the BESTEST Palm Leaves!!! Hard type of crunch and so buttery. Slightly sweetened too. No other bakery I’ve been to has even come close to matching A&B’s Palm Leaves.

  32. harrycovair
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    @nonstopmari Took me a short while to understand why the Puff Pastry shell was called a “Little Cabbage”. Then I saw a picture of a real cabbage still growing on the ground then I understood what the “Choux” was in reference to. Of course this was pre internet days we’re talking about.

  33. ghillie368
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    What about BREAD bakeries? If you don’t like Whole Foods’ (Ba-Le) “overproofed” baguettes, what’s the next best option? I feel guilty buying LaBrea Bakery sourdough loaves at Costco (par-baked and frozen; final-baked at local Costcos), but I guess no wheat is really local… but surely there’s some real bread talent here. Any secret Tartine or Sullivan St-equivalents here? (besides Chris Sy @ Town)?

  34. getsomecake
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    There is a new bakery in town that brings the old fashioned goodness. G.I. Cakes is owner by Pastry Chef Patricia Arnold, who is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has worked at the Famous Trelis in Williamsburg, as well as owned a pastry company in Historuc Julian, California. Don’t take my word for it, they recently won People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice Awards at Dessert Fantasy 2011. Try them out today.

  35. getsomecake
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    There is a new Bakery in town that brings the good old fashioned full flavor. G.I. Cakes is owned by Pastry Chef Patricia Arnold, who is a graduate of the world famous Culinary Institute of America. Don’t take my word for it, they recently received People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice award at Dessert Fantasy 2011. Check them out today.

About Ed Morita

Ed Morita spent more than a decade working as a pastry chef at some of the country's premiere resorts and restaurants, including the Halekulani Hotel, The Greenbrier Resort & Spa in West Virginia, Bay Harbor Yacht Club in Michigan and Longhi’s Restaurant in Honolulu. After a near-career-ending injury forced him out of the kitchen, he embarked on a new career as a food writer, photographer and blogger for Metromix Honolulu and Nonstop Honolulu (, where he now writes the Baker's Hours blog. He's also entered the realm of politics, serving as the photography captain for the Abercrombie for Governor campaign in 2010, then becoming Gov. Abercrombie's official photographer until 2012 when he became the Social Media Director for the Mazie Hirono for U.S. Senate campaign. He's excited and honored to be the official blogger for the 2012 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. You can follow Ed's adventures online at

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