No self-respecting Nut-Lover can go to Hawaii without trying a Malasada (or Malassada). Originally brought to Hawaii in the late 1800’s by Portuguese immigrant workers, malasadas have since been co-opted into Hawaiian tradition. They’re essentially bigger, spongier, yeast-raised doughnut holes usually covered in cinnamon and sugar. In the States, they can be tough to find outside of Hawaii unless you have some serious Portuguese or Polynesian connections. As it turns out, Blognut even had a hard time finding them in the 50th state.
It seems most of the worthwhile Nut-Shops in Hawaii are on either Oahu or the Big Island. Unfortunately we spent our vacation on Kauai and Maui. Poor planning. I mean, shouldn’t all itineraries be based on the acquisition of quality Nuts?
Friday afternoon: A quick glance through the Kauai phonebook reveals two donut shops: Big Wheel Donuts and Daylight Donuts. I dial up Big Wheel but a robot-lady tells me the number’s been disconnected. I call Daylight and get the answering machine – they’re only open from 6:30 AM to 10:30 AM. Early the next morning we hop in our rental car and five minutes later we see the (Day) light. Hidden behind an ACE Hardware in a dilapidated old plaza in which all the buildings are paneled with blue-painted wood, Daylight feels very Hawaiian.
We walk in to what appears to be a family of locals reading the newspaper and throwing back coffee in plastic Styrofoam cups. An older gentlemen slowly rises and follows us to the counter to take our order. He seems super-friendly but we can’t understand a word he says due to his thick Hawaiian accent. With considerable difficulty we are able to communicate and are saddened to hear that Daylight doesn’t make malasadas. I wanted to ask where I could find some but the results of such an inquiry probably would have wasted another two hours. So I order a plain-glazed and a vanilla glazed, which the Hawaiian Donut-Man gently bags. Mrs. Blognut then orders a maple-glazed – Donut-Man pulls out a chocolate frosted and puts it in the bag. Whatever. We happily pay for our Nuts and wish the locals farewell (I drop an "Aloha" while flashing the hang loose symbol back at a youth on the way out). Oh yeah, we also snagged a Daylight coffee mug with a porcelain Nut on the bottom to lift the spirits once the java’s all gone.
Back at the hotel we whip out our Nuts. Clearly putting her own needs before those of devout Blognut readers, Mrs. Blognut eats her Chocolate Frosted right away, so we’re unable to photograph it. “It was good,” she says, but offers no additional commentary on the Nut. The glazed is pretty solid. It’s smaller than a Dunkin glazed, and similar in flavor, with the exception of a prolonged, slightly-sugary after taste that gives the Nut a nice finish. The consistency is so soft and delicate that it nearly melts in our mouth before we’ve had the chance to chew. The
vanilla is nearly identical - but with a barely recognizable hint vanilla flavor. We are pleased with both.
I have only shown the vanilla-glazed as the plain-glazed looked exactly the same and Blognut does not want to bore with redundant Nuts.
Though we briefly got to hang with the locals and scarf a few decent donuts, our Daylight experience just wasn’t going to cut it – we needed to find a malasada.
The next day we end up at this burger shack called Barefoot Burger. While the teenaged cashier looks more like someone who can point me in the direction of gnarly swells and Billabong vendors than donuts, I take the chance:
Blognut: “Do you know where I can get a malasada?”
Surfer Girl: “Yes – you have to go to K-Mart.”
Blognut: “K-Mart? Really?”
Surfer Girl: "Yep. There's a lady who runs a Malasada stand outside of K-Mart - she makes them fresh every morning."
So the next morning we did something we never thought we'd being doing on our trip to Hawaii - we drove to K-Mart. It was easy to find since there's only one K-Mart on Kauai in Lihue, the island's only "large" city. We arrive at K-Mart and, just like the surfer chick promised, are at last face to face with the much anticipated malasada. A small, wooden stand with a banner advertising "Fresh Kaua'i Malasadas" sits adjacent to the K-Mart entrance.
A smiley Hawaiian women stands behind the counter busily managing a large pot of boiling oil housing a bushel of bobbing malasadas. A sign behind the counter reads "Wuz Here" in mailbox letters and is surrounded by polaroids of Nut-Lovers who have visited the stand. The donuts come in either cinnamon or sugar and are nicely priced at 3 for $1.25, 6 for $2.50, and so on in multiples of three up until 18. We order 6, 3 cinnamon and 3 sugar. The Hawaiian Donut-Lady rescues our order from the pot, coats them with the appropriate topping and stuffs them into a brown paper bag.
Initially, Blognut was skeptical of the malasada for fear of yet another disappointing international Nut (I know, technically this isn't an international Nut seeing as were in the States, but it's close enough given that Hawaii is further away from our New York home then just about everywhere in Europe). But all doubts are put to rest with one bite of these delicious balls of dough. Roughly the size of a lemon, our malasadas are piping hot and perfectly soft. The Sugar variety is caked in heaps of granulated sugar, half of which ends up on the floor of our rental car, while the Cinnamon-Nut is covered in nearly as much sugar mixed with loads of cinnamon. They are almost too good to evaluate and before we know it, we've polished off all 6 and are now covered in sugar ourselves. Basically just think of them as the best donut hole you've ever had!