Best Food & Drink: Coffee and Desserts
Best Food & Drink / Best Honolulu roaster/coffeehouse with pastries
The Diedrich coffee roaster stands in a corner like a friendly robot every Saturday, when Downtown Coffee roasts their local beans.
But what we really gotta talk about is the house-made pastries invented and baked by owner Fred Itodaka’s wife Fumiko. To wit: Gluten-free chocolate tart, Yuzu orange bar with chocolate crust, bread puddings that change with the seasons (right now it’s fresh peach); and the Matcha torte , a green tea topping with a bamboo charcoal crust “that holds onto toxins and filters them through your body,” assures barista Jonathan Lau. We’re not going to argue with that.
Truly an oasis on Fort St. Mall.
Best Local Packaged Cookie
For four years, Keith’s buttery, addictive domes could be bought only at his factory, military exchanges and every other week at the KCC farmers’ market.
“Before the economy turned, we were at Macy’s, but one Christmas I went down to do some sampling, I looked around and there were no other local guys left,” owner Brent Fujimoto recalls. “Slowly, we’ve made our way back into retail stores like Long’s,” Fujimoto adds.
They’ll have trouble keeping Keith’s on the shelves. Cookies come in butter and shortbread, and 15 flavors, including poi, macadia nut, chocolate chip macadamia nut and lilikoi. Most popular? “It would have to be our original, the mochiko shortbread,” Fujimoto says. His cookies are transfat/preservative-free, made only with unbleached wheat flour, butter, sugar, eggs, pure vanilla, baking soda and salt–and, best of all, they’re not too sweet. One is enough, really, most of the time. And yet Keith’s cookies vanish so quickly.
Best shave ice
What makes Waiola’s the finest shave ice? Soft, snowy perfection flavored and topped with lilikoi cream, condensed milk, mochi balls, azuki beans, li hing powder, ice cream or custard. What else? Pigging out on the “extra large bowl” and still not spending more than $2.75. Even when the line is long, it goes fast, so figure out what you want before you get to the window.
Best array of petite desserts that you can’t eat just one of
JJ French Pastry
By now everyone has heard of JJ’s famous Chocolate Pyramid (if you haven’t, you’re dead to me), but the patisserie also offers a raspberry-infused pyramid that until recently, I worshipped like there was a pharaoh inside, its gooey goodness hitting my palate divinely. But looking through the glass display, I can’t ignore the rest of the delicately adorned treats. The Chocolate Fruit Basket, Mango Peach, Chocolate Lilikoi and various cheesecakes are all must-haves.
Best cupcake made with local ingredients
I watch Cupcake Wars a lot. So much that I’m constantly trying new combinations of ingredients to make the best cupcake any of my friends have ever tasted (red velvet cake filled with Nutella and frosted with almond butter frosting–you’re welcome). But even my best doesn’t come close to the cupcakes from Cake Couture. Their simplest cakes–vanilla, chocolate, red velvet–are decadent flavors to be reckoned with, and when the basic flavors are that good, you know the more creative ones are going to blow you away.
Made with local ingredients, these cupcakes are moist without being dense, their frosting sweet without tasting like butter. The chocolate ones are especially tasty–try the Black and White, Mocha and Chocolate Cheesecake flavors.