For the last stop on our food tour, they took us to Leonard’s Bakery, a modestly-sized bakery located in the Kaimuki neighborhood, not to far from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, with their gleaming sign advertising malasadas and pão doce. The destination wasn’t particularly a surprise, since I’m pretty sure that Leonard’s Bakery was far and away the most-recommended place on Oahu, with literally dozens of people telling me that I had to go to Leonard’s and order a malasada. But I’m sure quite a few of you are now asking “what’s a malasada?” Well, as I mentioned, Hawaii is quite the culinary melting pot, and that influence includes Portuguese cuisine (a large number of Portuguese workers came to Hawaii from the Azores in the late 19th century to work on the sugar cane plantations). This immigration added several major items to Hawaiian cuisine, including Portuguese sausage (available at most breakfast places in Hawaii, and also widely available as a choice in a standard plate lunch), pão doce (Portuguese sweet rolls, kind of like a sweet dinner roll), and the malasada. The malasada is basically a Portuguese donut: a nominally egg-sized lump of dough is fried up and, in its most basic form, served up rolled in granulated sugar. It’s one of the classics of Hawaiian cuisine (indeed, the wedding we attended had fresh malasadas at the reception), and it’s a dessert widely available across the state. And, as I mentioned above, most anyone’s list for “Best Malasada” has Leonard’s near the top of the list.
Where Offbeat Eats has been:
One of the unwritten rules amongst most of my coworkers that travel a lot is that you shouldn’t waste a business trip meal eating someplace we could eat back at home. So that usually means seeking out at least one of the ethnic cuisines that aren’t well represented in our neck of the woods, in this case, several of us knew of a decent Thai place down the road from NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, MD: the oddly-named Siri’s Chef’s Secret. Siri’s describes themselves as “Thai and American Food”, but with the exception of the dessert menu, most of the menu is straightforward Thai dishes, with just enough American food that if you brought a group and one person wasn’t comfortable with Thai food, they’d be happy. But they’ve got most of the major dishes I look for, including Tom Yum and Tom Kha soups, several rice dishes, basil dishes, and noodle dishes, served up with levels of spice ranging from mild to truly spicy (also a pleasant departure from the generally light spicing of Northern New England).