I have always loved glazed donuts. And to my delight, I recently found out that when you marry a local Hawaiian staple with America’s favorite donut, you get something even better. I stumbled upon Kamehameha Bakery on Yelp while searching for the best donut place in town, and walked away with the discovery of the best donut period.
But first, a couple words about Kamehameha Bakery. This bakery is one of those hole-in-the-wall local gems that, if it weren’t for Yelp, I would probably never find even if I lived here for years. Judging by the way the bakery looks inside, it seems like they have been making exquisite tasting donuts for awhile now. So it’s no surprise that they’ve perfected the ideal donut texture: fluffy and moist in the inside but crisp on the outside.
The bakery serves a variety of novelty donuts with unique fillings like haupia, but by far the best tasting and most popular one is the poi glazed donut. Poi is the Hawaiian word for a Polynesian staple food made out of the stem part of a taro plant. It is usually served viscous and on the side. I remember trying it with some kalua pork in 2009 (also another terrific local Hawaiian dish) and not liking it too much, but my feelings are entirely different when poi is served in donut form.
The flavor is subtle, but it’s there. The poi softens the intense sweetness of the glaze, and the fried outer layer has a semi-burnt taste that gives the donut so much depth. I feel like the poi glazed donuts is what lovers of glazed donuts advance to as they age; it really is the grown-up version of my childhood favorite. I don’t think if I tried it is a kid I would like the poi glazed donut as much, but my taste buds now understand and appreciate the subtleties this donut offers.
One very important tip: Arrive early at the bakery because they do run out of the poi glazed donuts. I’m not saying you have to be there right when they open (at 2 AM on weekdays and 3 AM on weekends – clearly an indication that they are serious bakers), but just don’t arrive late because you might be disappointed at yourself.
I seriously recommend adding “try poi glazed donuts” to your to-do list for your next Hawaiian getaway, now. You absolutely don’t want to regret not getting a bite out of this donut while you’re here!
1339 N School St
Honolulu, HI 96817
Donut interior photo by capsun.