The best malassadas can be had only two days in a year at the annual Punahou Carnival. Carnival = malassadas. Deep-fried sweet eggy dough, like an extra fatty child of brioche and yeast doughnuts. The Punahou numbers are fried an impressive deep brown, super crisp and dusted in nutmeg kissed sugar. They’re wonderful beyond words…to the point where one lonely college year, Steph MAILED me a Punahou malassada stuffed in a plastic jar. Now that is quality friendship. Granted it tasted nothing like a fresh fried malassada, but it was surely the thought on her part, and nostalgia on mine, that counted.
But unless you’re lucky enough to be in Honolulu that first February weekend, you’ll have to settle for something lesser.
Not that lesser is bad at all. Especially in the case of Leonard’s on Kapahulu.
Victor, Michel and I stopped in the other day, post-Chinatown. We were still full from breakfast, lunch, and coffee. But you don’t need to be hungry to crave a malassada (or any dessert for that matter :).
This is the haupia version. What a lovely sight, eh? A cup of black coffee is the perfect pairing. There are a few benches in front of the bakery. That’s the ideal place to consume your one, two, or three malassadas. In the warm island weather, with slippers, shorts, and not a care in the world.
In the end, however, nothing tops a plain Punahou malassada straight out of the fryer on carnival weekend. Handed to me by a PTA mom, of course. All while the Punahou juniors and their parent carnival chairs fry up thousands of these bubbly creatures. It’s greasy. And tiring.
But fun. I would know. I worked the Malassada Booth my year. Wearing the annual carnival print apron. Those were the days :)
933 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816