All of the food that Hawaii is famous for is to-die-for. Seriously, give me a mixed plate with some marinated Kalbi short-ribs, rice, double the mac salad and a side spam musubi and I'm a happy girl. I could give a list of great places to eat the most savory dishes, but there are far too many to name. Find a local and ask where they eat, that's how I like to do it. But no, this post isn't mean to be savory, it is sweet and filled with sugary goodness. My two favorite "if you don't go here, you'll regret it" things that are native to the island of Oahu are Malasadas and Shave Ice. And i say native, not because they only exist here (you can get these anywhere in Hawaii), but because the most famous places to get these items are on Oahu.
Let's start with Malasadas.
The name Leonards is synonymous with the world of Malasadas. And if it is isn't, it should be. This is the only place to go for an original Malasada. Stop in here for the most fresh, moist, sugary piece of pastry you'll ever have in your life. Similar to the Beignet from New Orleans, but different. No need to even spring for one of the specials or anything jelly-filled. Stick with the original. They come out hot from the fryer. You may even need to do the hunched over Guy Fieri eating pose with these. You know, elbows up, bum out and a clear area below what you are eating to minimize mess. There will be mess. It's inevitable with that amount of sugar coated on every inch. Just be careful to not burn your fingers and mouth from unwillingness to wait for it to cool down. Trust me, I burned my fingers to get the picture below. I am already salivating just writing about Malasadas. And don't be embarrassed to go here more than once during your stay, I sure did.
When it comes to Shave Ice...
A debate comes to mind. There are two places on the island that claim to have the best Shave Ice. People choose sides and declare which they feel is the best. It was so extremely hot during my visit that Shave Ice every day was a must. This may have been an excuse but does it really matter? Since I was eating it daily, I had ample chances to determine which side I am on. The two places in question are Waiola's and Matsumoto's.
Waiola's Shave Ice is shaved so fine that it tastes like you're sticking out your tongue in a snow fall. It literally just melts in your mouth. Waiola's has two locations. I went to both. No preference really, except one had seating and parking while the other was just street parking. Both locations are "hole-in-the-wall" types offering that quaint Hawaiian vibe. You walk up to the small window that is attached to a general store (mostly filled with candy, as if you aren't about to have enough sugar). It has that mom and pop type feeling and a product that is truly delicious.
By the way, I fell in love with the tank that I'm wearing in the above photo. Just looking at it makes me wish I was on vacation right now. Grab yours from Ily Couture, here. They have the cutest stuff!
Matsumoto Shave Ice is located on the other side of the island on the North Shore of Oahu. It's a hard place to miss, since there will most definitely be a line out the door when you drive/walk by. Located in a little shopping center, the crowd can get large. Matsumoto's had a little less of that quaint mom and pop vibe. As you enter the same type of general store as Waiola's (except this one is full of memorabilia), there is a worker standing there to take your order. He/she writes which flavors you'd like and hands you a bowl with those instructions written on the bottom. It is more like a factory-line process with maybe 5-6 people handling each stage along the way. The Shave Ice here is more coarse than Waiola's is which you have to chew it a bit after putting a scoop in your mouth. Still good, but different. The line moves fast so don't let that deter you.
If you couldn't tell, my winner is undoubtedly Waiola's. I much prefer a melt in your mouth, snow-like treat than something that is more like coarse, tiny pieces of ice. The flavor choices are one in the same, so there is really no comparison in that area. Again, really just a personal preference of textures. Nonetheless, either will definitely cure you of that sun stroke you got from laying on the beach all day.
I hope this post has made you hungry because it sure has had that effect on me.
Moral of the story: Go to Hawaii, eat lots of sugar, every day.
Also, if you missed it, check out some great Off the Beaten Path places to go in Oahu, here.
Yours Truly // Shannon