I had lunch with Justin the other day at my favourite sandwich shop on the island. It’s been a year since my last visit to Andy’s, and it’s comforting to see that nothing has changed. There’s a million sandwiches on the menu (along with ten million smoothies), but I always order the mushroom medley or eggplant melt. I keep meaning to venture out, though such is often easier said than done, especially when visits to Andy’s are so limited.
But today Justin and I decided that something different was in order, just so that we would know exactly what we’ve been missing out on. The Ahi Avocado Sandwich. The name is deceiving because it’s not ahi, ahi, as in ahi grilled, ahi fresh, but instead, it’s ahi spread. A little sad, but what were you expecting for $5? Minor disappointment aside, the sandwich was just as awesome as the rest – lettuce, shredded carrots, piles of alfalfa (oh man, so much love for alfalfa, in everything, anything…), and the ahi spread (like tuna salad, only ahi salad) with…
…lots and lots of mashed avocados oooozing between the slices of Andy’s fresh made wheat bread. Local Hawai’i avocado are so insanely delicious, a soft creamy green, more buttery than butter itself. Maybe that’s why our avocado smoothies are so tasty, eh? There’s no point in bothering with avocados from anywhere else in the world. If customs would just turn a blind eye, I’d pack a bagazillion avocados in my suitcase back to NYC and eat nothing but avocados for the next year.
We also split a papaya-acai smoothie, which did not look appetizing with its murky brown-purple shade…funky at first sip, though grew on us ever so slowly. I’ll stick with my staple guava smoothie in the future.
Dessert cravings creep up on me around ten minutes after finishing a savoury lunch (you know, for those odds days when I’m not eating piles of cake in place of a meal We both instantly thought of Liliha Bakery, and drove off to Kalihi. Liliha Bakery is an old Hawai’i standby (though ownership was recently sold to Peter Kim (of Yummy’s) from the Takakuwa family) and the only place on earth where you can find a Chantilly topped Coco Puff. No, these are not Beard Papa or Choux Factory puffs. These are something else entirely, in a world of their own that other establishments could only dream to ever recreate. These are Liliha Coco Puffs.
Everyone in Hawai’i knows of Liliha Bakery and their coco puffs, and if you don’t, well shame on you. The chiffon cakes, date bars, pancakes and waffles are also fantastic, though it’s the coco puffs that draw endless lines to this 24 hour bakery (closed only on Mondays).
This is the Coco Puff. A basic choux pastry stuffed with a thick chocolate pudding. Not dark chocolate, but milk. This is one of the rare cases in which milk works significantly better than dark. It’s not a luxurious, fancy pudding. It’s honest pudding. Like real stuff kine pudding. That kind of pudding. But the best part is what they put on top, oh man, it’s crazy, it’s CHANTILLY. Let’s get this straight. Chantilly is a Hawai’i creation. Once in a while I’ll run into “Chantilly” on a dessert menu or bakery on the mainland.
BUT IT IS NOT THE SAME CHANTILLY.
Noooo. Not even close.
That golden/light brown glob you see on top of the puff? That’s Chantilly. Hawai’i Chantilly. How all Chantilly should be. No one knows the exact recipe for Liliha’s Chantilly, save for those who are actually in the kitchen whipping it up, but this quote from an old Star Bulletin article sums it up as, “a German chocolate cake frosting, without the nuts and coconut, and with a whole lot of butter added.” A lot of butter. And a fair share of egg yolks, heheheheh. The coco puff is best eaten very, very cold, just right on the verge of frozen, the chill of chocolate pudding, buttery choux and the oh god, chantilly, creamywith a slight salty twist and butter, oh butter, all over, everywhere.
And then once you eat one, then you want another. So you have another and another and perhaps a few more, till you’ve eaten just one too many. Then you feel slightly sick. And oh so happy.
There was a surprise in store for us on this particular visit. A small sign perched above the blueberry cream cheese squares suggested, “Try Our New Item – Green Tea Coco“. How could anyone refuse such a cheerful offer?
The chocolate pudding is replaced with a matcha pudding, significantly lighter and a tad less sweet. The chantilly is the same, only with matcha powder whipped in the frosting – it changes the colour quite a bit (perhaps they’ve added food colouring?), but there’s no notable difference in the flavour, pure chantilly through and through. Justin liked it more than the original coco puff, and I could understand why. But sometimes you just really need chocolate pudding enrobed in choux and topped with more whipped butter and egg yolks. And other times, you want a “lighter” (hahah, who are we kidding) version, hence the matcha coco puff. Me? There’s enough love for all.
And because we had both puffs, we figured why not have a bit more and indulge in the ensemada, a Filipino treat with strong roots in the island. It’s big, it’s pillowy, and as Betty Shimabukuro of the Bulletin proclaimed, “the ensemada has absolutely no nutritional value, unless you consider happiness to be good for the health.” Ahhh, how very true. I believe the same applies for coco puffs, shave ice, chichi dango, manju, and plenty other Hawai’i treats. But we must be filled with the utmost happiness!
Poofy, yes. Much like Ani’s Sweetbread, in both the light and soft texture, and creamy sweet flavour. Think challah gone local, lighter (despite the bagazillion egg yolks) with a touch more sugar. Baked in individual fist sized mounds and brushed with a bounty of whipped butter and sugar.
You see why Hawai’i is so delicious?
Andy’s Sandwiches & Smoothies
2904 E Manoa Rd
Honolulu, HI 96822
515 N Kuakini St
Honolulu, HI 96817