I squealed when I saw the sign for Magnolia Bakery in the Ala Moana Center because I didn’t think it existed outside of New York City. I’ve wanted to eat a cupcake from there ever since the cupcake craze of the early 2000s when I used to bake them all the time.
There was a casual store in the open-air shopping center but because we were so hot, we didn’t mind paying the tip etc in the cafe for air-con and a decent seat while we indulged in our sweets (I’m using the prices from the menu which do not include gratuity or taxes).Classic vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream rich, buttery, old-fashioned cake with a light crumb. Our most popular cupcake! ($3.50). I was a bit skeptical that this would be too sweet because Americans have a notorious sweet tooth and there was a generous swirl of icing on top, but it was perfect. The cupcake was light without being dry and the icing provided the right amount of sweetness. All in all, the perfect cupcake. It made me want to start baking again!It really did have a ‘light crumb’, this had the perfect cake and icing texture.Classic vanilla cupcake with chocolate buttercream rich, buttery, old-fashioned cake with a light crumb. Our most popular cupcake! ($3.50). TimmyC preferred the chocolate buttercream but I preferred vanilla. I guess it comes down to personal preference, but you should eat both too to find out what you like. 😉Red Velvet cupcake whipped vanilla icing ($3.50). I didn’t think this was as nice as the other cupcakes because of the icing, maybe if I chose the cream cheese frosting it would have been better.Magnolia Bakery’s famous banana pudding layers of OREO® wafers, fresh bananas, creamy chocolate pudding, and chocolate shavings ($6.50). For something that sounded like it would be ridiculously sweet and OTT, it was actually really delicious and not overwhelming. Another side note is that my friend and I aren’t particularly big fans of banana but we both really enjoyed this. It was very light and reminded me of the texture of mousse.Honeydew melon cooler honeydew puree, honey dew juice, lime soda ($7.00). This was fantastic, it tasted more like honeydew more than some actual melons that I’ve tasted. It was a perfect sweet refreshing beverage.The staff was very efficient and friendly. It is definitely worth sitting in the cafe to enjoy the service and air conditioning, while enjoying the delicious delights. I wish I was hungry enough to try more cupcake flavours.
Venue: Magnolia bakery cafe
Address: Ala Moana Center, Mall Level 2, Ewa Wing 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96814
While casually shopping in Costco, I walked past the freezer section that I don’t often venture past only to find myself slowly reversing and pressing my face up to the glass. Do my eyes deceive me? Was that really what I thought it was?
Yes ladies and gentlemen. Costco Canberra (for now) is selling The Cheesecake Factory original cheesecake ($21.89), complete with graham cracker crust and the smooth cheesecake filling that we all know and love. Upside: it is all pre-cut and equally portioned for your convenience with a paper dividers; it’s the original cheesecake so you can dress it up however you like it (I had mine with berries, passionfruit, my friend added Nutella) and it tasted like I never left Hawaii.
Downside: the serving suggestion was to thaw it in the fridge for 8-12 hours (ain’t no body got time for that, I just left it on the counter until I was ready to eat it); our pineapple isn’t as sweet so I can’t replicate my favourite flavour.I take no responsibility with what you do with this information.
When you enter a restaurant that has over 35 types of cheesecake, you try to decide what you want for dessert and work your way backwards. It was after 9:30pm and the wait for a table for four was still 20 minutes, The Cheesecake Factory is a very popular place to be!There is a takeaway counter for all those who choose to take a cheesecake to go.Don’t be tempted by their complimentary bread, it was unusually sweet but it takes up important cheesecake stomach space.Fried macaroni and cheese crispy crumbed coated macaroni and cheese balls, served over a creamy marinara sauce ($12.50). This was rather quite underwhelming and was rather bland, I wouldn’t bother ordering this again.Old fashioned burger charbroiled on a toasted brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and mayonnaise served with french fries or green salad ($12.95). It is interesting that they add their salad separately because that is exactly how I prefer it. The thick beef patty was super juicy, the bread was just sweet enough and fries were served hot- all in all, a fabulous burger.Spicy chicken chipotle pasta honey glazed chicken, asparagus, red and yellow peppers, peas, garlic and onion in a spicy chipotle parmesan cream sauce. This was delicious! The perfect amount of spiciness and generous serve of ingredients but man, it was huge portion! Between the four of us we could not finish this.Quesadilla grilled flour tortilla filled with melted cheese, green onions and chillies, garnished with guacamole, salsa and sour cream with chicken. A tasty appetizer that we was nice and light, a good choice if you want dessert afterwards.The menu was HUGE, it contained an extensive list of everything from glamburgers to pasta to tacos and seafood. We all got a bit excited with ordering our mains and instead of getting four cheesecakes for dessert like we intended, we could only fit in a few mouthfuls of one slice that we all shared.
We weren’t going to be defeated again, so our subsequent visits resulted in just getting take away cheesecake. We were able to try 9 flavours in total, which included the fresh pineapple cheesecake that is only available in Hawaii.
- Key lime cheesecake
- Dutch apple caramel streusel cheesecake
- Fresh pineapple cheesecake
- Snickers bar chunks and cheesecake
- Ultimate red velvet cake cheesecake
- Mango key lime cheesecake
- Toasted marshmallow s’m0res galore
- Chocolate tuxedo cream cheesecake
- Chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake
Out of all the cheesecakes I had the pleasure of tasting, I really enjoyed the fresh pineapple and Dutch apple caramel streusel. I found that the less sweet flavours work best as it wasn’t OTT.This is a very busy restaurant all the time (there was a 45 minute wait at 10:30pm one time we stopped by) but it didn’t stop the service being friendly, efficient and attentive. For a place called ‘The Cheesecake Factory’ I was surprised that the main meals were rather good and that there were so many choices. If you do come here for a meal, remember to leave room for cheesecake.
Venue– The Cheesecake Factory
Address– Royal Hawaiian Center, 2301 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
It had been just over a year since I had last been to XO in Narrabundah and I was about eleven months overdue for a revisit. With a promise of fabulous company and new dishes on the menu, I booked for the next free day everyone was available.
Shantung bao twice cooked pork belly with cucumber, pickled daicon and ginger ($8.00 each). It might seem steep to pay 8 bucks for a bao but it is worth every cent. The pork belly is a thick cut but very tender; the meatiness is balanced by the vegetables and the bao is super soft.
The baos are teeny tiny but mighty tasty.XO FC wings marinated in butter milk with kewpie mayo ($10.00). I love chicken wings and if you fry it, I will come! These were really crunchy while remaining succulent and I love mixing the mayo with their modified sriracha sauce.Steamed dumplings minced prawn and pork with spicy soy vinaigrette ($16.00). These were so delicious, we ordered another serve just before we started on desserts. A delicate steamed parcel in a beautiful spicy soy which made it very hard to share with other people.Small plates~
Vanella stracciatella dressed with tomato nam jim, granny smith apple, crushed peanuts and crispy shrimp ($18.00). This my friends….Was the dish of the night for me and that is a massive call since I also ordered Asian bolognese. To be honest, I didn’t pay attention to anything else on the menu once I confirmed that my old favourites were still there. TimmyC suggested we get this dish and I casually dismissed it aside allowing him this as his ‘one’ while I chose 5 other plates. It is difficult to describe this dish, it was a mix of stretchy cheese, different flavours and crunchy textures. You MUST order this!!! Asian bolognese stir fried udon in XO chicken ragout with a 60° egg ($18.00). This dish was the sole reason I came back to XO, I’ve been having dreams about this ever since I had it the first time. I think it is genius to use udon!Shallow fried tofu shallow fried tofu seasoned soy and candied ginger ($16.00). I can see how this was supposed to be a simple tasty dish with a ridiculously soft tofu but I found it underwhelming in comparison to the other dishes.Hiramasa Kingfish miso cured with pineapple relish, wasabi nori, spelt and freeze-dried raspberry. Kent was nice enough to treat us to one of their new dishes on the menu, this would have been $18.00. It was interesting to have the Kingfish served in cubes, the curing processing apparently makes the flesh ‘tighter’ and it gave the dish a very meaty feel. This is a dish where you have to eat all elements together; the wasabi nori had a kick but the pineapple made it very sweet and it seemed like we were eating a sushi without rice.Larger~
Prawn Kapitan spicy Nyonya style curry with wok fried king prawns ($34.00). The prawns were really fragrant and tasty but I was hoping for more of a sauce to mix into my rice.Crispy lamb ribs tossed in a sticky plum sauce ($28.00). A popular favourite amongst the table, it is a little messy to eat. Ditch the chopsticks and just use your hands.Sides~
Cauliflower nuggets fried with mixed spices and mint yoghurt ($12.00). I was hit with a strong taste of cumin which probably would have been offset by the yoghurt but the bowl got taken away before I could go back and smear some on.Desserts~
Chrysanthemum tea soft serve ($5.00). I knew when I made the restaurant booking that I wanted this for my dessert, I was just hoping that they still had it. Anyone that has had a chrysanthemum tea popper growing up, this is exactly that flavour in soft serve form. I encourage all those who have not tried chrysanthemum tea to order this, although I don’t know if they still have it on the menu because they have just released a watermelon szechuan and sumac soft serve yesterday.Black rice pudding coconut ice-cream, golden honeycomb and lime meringue ($14.00). I love this dessert but I was surprised to see that the desserts had not changed for a year. Chef AK explained for these popular desserts to be replaced, it would have to be just as good but he assures me that something is in the works.Pandan panna cotta gula melaka syrup and sesame tuile ($12.00). The panna cotta isn’t really sweet and all the sweetness comes from the intense syrup. The texture was super smooth which was a good contrast with the crunchy tuile.They might have turned down the volume dial on the music but they still play the music that I love. The staff was attentive and everything came out a timely manner.
One wonders why I’ve stayed away for so long but since the three days of not being there, they have already released a new soft serve flavour and there will be new dishes released in December. Looks like I’ll need to head back there ASAP.