Magnolia Bakery – Hawaiian series

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

Phone: 808-942-4132

 

Advertisements

The Cheesecake Factory cheesecake

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.

The Cheesecake Factory – Hawaiian series 

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.

  1. Key lime cheesecake
  2. Dutch apple caramel streusel cheesecake
  3. Fresh pineapple cheesecake
  4. Snickers bar chunks and cheesecake
  5. Ultimate red velvet cake cheesecake
  6. Mango key lime cheesecake
  7. Toasted marshmallow s’m0res galore
  8. Chocolate tuxedo cream cheesecake
  9. 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

The Cheesecake Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Leonard’s bakery – Hawaiian series

A wonderful reader suggested I hunt down malasadas while I was in Hawaii. When I went to google what malasadas were, Leonard’s bakery popped up in my browser; apparently that was the place to go get my Portuguese doughtnuts from!When I walked in I was a little shocked to see that most of the cabinet was empty. Were they all sold out? 😦 Thank goodness I quickly spotted a sign saying that their doughnuts are made fresh to order.Flavours and prices at Leonard’s bakery.After a short wait, we were handed a pink bag with our goodies.Malasadas – Portuguese doughnuts ($1.10 each excl tax)

Originalsugar malasada. I was absolutely blown away by the texture. For something that I thought was going to be oily, it was not at all. It was pillowy soft and when you took a bite it revealed a beautiful doughy matrix . The outer coating of sugar gave it the perfect amount of sweetness.

Cinnamoncinnamon sugar malasada. I am a huge cinnamon fan but I preferred the original flavour.Malsada puffs – malasadas with filling ($1.50 each excl tax)

Custard – custard filling. The custard filling wasn’t OTT so the overall sweetness levels was still perfect. I really love custard and I just wanted to slurp all the filling out. Malasadas are definitely worth trying if you’re visiting Hawaii. I love how there is a Leonard’s food truck near the outlet centre, it is the perfect sugar hit you need before  you do more shopping.

Doughnuts come in a cute pink box when you purchase 6 or more with a tiny discount.

Venue: Leonard’s bakery

Locations:

933 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816Waikele Shopping Center 94 Lumiaina Street, Waipahu, HI 9679

 

Godiva Chocolatier – Hawaiian series

One of the many franchises that I researched to see if it was in Hawaii before my arrival was Godiva Chocolatier. I had to specify that they sold soft serve and not just their delicious chocolate biscuits because that’s what we had craved since we tried it in Japan several years ago. Luckily for us there were multiple franchises around Honolulu and we happened to visit all of them.

Mixed soft serve ($6.00 excl tax). On a warm day in Hawaii, this is exactly what we wanted. There are extras you can get on the cone etc. but you don’t need the bells and whistles, just this delicious soft serve.Salted caramel chocolate shake ($6.00 excl tax). It was okay, it had a very thick texture which made it hard work to suck up the straw, but we much preferred the creamy soft serve.All three locations didn’t have any seating which is a little annoying but the high calibre of product is consistent.

Venue: Godiva Chocolatier

Locations:

Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, USA
International Marketplace, 2330 Kalakaua Ave Honolulu, HI 96815
Waikele center outlet, 94-790 Lumiaina St Waipahu, HI 96797

IHOP – Hawaiian Series

After what seemed like the longest flight ever, we finally got to our hotel only to be told our rooms were not ready yet, fair enough considering it was very early in the morning but that meant it was breakfast time! We dumped our bags and headed straight to IHOP (International House Of Pancakes) across the road.

It was my first trip to the US of A and I was excited to see all the franchises that I had only seen or heard about through TV and movies. I was overwhelmed to say the least. It was my first American meal, it was too early in the morning, the menu was massive and I didn’t know what I wanted to eat. On top of all this, I found a few things unusual which would apparently be the norm as I learnt throughout my trip.

  1. I would have to get used to tipping, luckily most bills have it calculated on the bottom for you and you choose a percentage
  2. The wait staff are really nice, helpful and attentive, I guess that’s because of point #1
  3. A lot of soft drinks come with refills
  4. So many meals come with a side of pancakes

Breakfast~ (I didn’t take photos of the large menu because I assumed they have one online but they don’t have prices)

Breakfast Sampler with our sampler, two is the magic number! That’s two eggs, two hickory-smoked bacon strips, two pork sausage links, two pieces of ham, two fluffy buttermilk pancakes and our golden hash browns. Being the indecisive person that I am, this is what I ultimately ordered, a little bit of everything. To be honest, I did not enjoy the savoury side at all. Everything was cold on my plate, the potato hash was oily and tasteless and everything else was a bit rubbery. The only saving grace were the pancakes, they were big and fluffy and I loved their whipped butter.Chicken Florentine Crepes two crepes filled with grilled chicken breast, mushrooms, onions, & Swiss cheese on a bed of spinach topped with White Cheddar Sauce, fresh tomatoes and fresh basil. This was served hot and was ten times more delicious than my savoury plate.

2 x 2 x 2  two eggs with two signature buttermilk pancakes served with two crispy strips of hickory-smoked bacon or two savory pork sausage links. For the people who want a little bit of sweet and a little bit of savoury. I love how they have so many ways to serve an egg as well!Strawberry Pancakes our stack of four pancakes crowned with cool strawberries and creamy whipped topping. 

The service was friendly and attentive, unfortunately the food was a bit of a hit and miss. I will just stick to pancakes.

It was nice to have a variety of syrups available but my favourite was good old fashioned.Venue: IHOP

Address: 1850 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI96815-1602

IHOP Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hawaiian series

Aloha!

If you have been following my blog for the past few weeks, you would know I recently went to Hawaii for a holiday. It was wonderful with all the sunshine, great shopping and it was really fun exploring all the eating options that we don’t get back at home. I will run through all my dining experiences through this ‘Hawaiian Series’ but just in case you’re headed for Hawaii, here is some extra little bit of information that isn’t just about food.


Shopping

Oahu island –

Ala Moana center~ A lot of shopping, a lot of eating and then more shopping. This place is HUGE and my friend and I still managed the shop the entire thing. Be sure to stop by Foodland Farms and look around, it reminded me of David Jones food hall.

If you head to the information desk in Bloomingdale’s (I’m not sure about the other major department stores) proving you’re a tourist, they can give you discount vouchers, yay for savings.

Ross Dress for Less~ When the lady at the hotel heard that I loved dresses, she sent me straight to Ross where you can snap up brand names at a bargain price. I bought a Karl Lagerfeld dress for $30 bucks and Michael Kors pointy black flats for $50. Obviously you have to be lucky with sizes and store availability.

They also sell luggage, men’s clothes/shoes, kid’s clothes/shoes, handbags, fragrances, food, homewares and furniture.

Waikele Premium Outletshow did I leave the country with an extra 10 pairs of shoes? I blame this place. We spent a fair few hours here but you might not comb the area as thoroughly as we did. I thought the place would be enclosed (like the Australian DFO) and a lot bigger but they are individual stores all congregated closely together. My advise is:

  1. try and take a car or be prepared to lug your shopping around all day
  2. only eat there for sustenance for more shopping, I didn’t love the food options other than Godiva. I’d rather eat across the road at the Waikele Center at the food vans
  3. head straight to the information desk, there are vouchers or Mastercard deals that can be applied to most stores and that means more savings
  4. read your receipts there are often vouchers for other stores or the same store only valid for that day
  5. wear good shoes- not just for the walking aspect, I was constantly kicking my shoes off to try on more shoes
  6. if you’re shopping for a handbag, browse all your options first. You might choose Kate Spade over Coach or Michael Kors

 Just before I bought another two more pairs…img_0616

Waikele Center~ We ended up here because we had completely shopped out the outlets. Nothing much to see on this side except for their food options and their Old Navy outlet.

Kauai island –

By the time we had got to this island, our bags were at capacity. The pace of life is a lot slower and a lot more relaxed, so we went swimming and relaxed instead of shopping. Although there were Ross stores, Walmart and Costco.


Accommodation

Waikiki –

We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for the first three nights, I deliberately booked the Rainbow Tower so we would have great views and the perfect position to watch the Friday night fireworks. They scared me half to death when they started because I was in the middle of eating cheesecake and they were so close to us!

We didn’t really use any of the hotels facilities; we went to the beach instead of the resort pool, we ate at Dairy Queen which is open to the public and we didn’t eat at any of the restaurants except for a pizza snack. You could just stay one street back where it was cheaper and just walk to the beach. We did find their location really convenient though.The view from our balcony overlooking Waikiki Beach and Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon.

Kaneohe –

AirBNB was our friend and we found a lovely place out in Kaneohe; it is in suburbia away from all the resorts and hustle and bustle. My friend and I were lucky that it was near some malls with our favourite shops, a Cajun King franchise and has gorgeous views to the Ko’olau mountain range (you have to google image ‘stairway to heaven Hawaii’).

Kauai island –

We stayed at the Koloa landing resort and spa. The whole Poipu area seemed really expensive, so my friends and I booked a two bedroom villa to save a little bit of money. The place was SWISH- decked out with random storage cupboards, laundry, 2.5 bathrooms, big kitchen, 8 seater dining room, living room and we were lucky enough to get a corner balcony overlooking the pool.

We were a little sad that there wasn’t a direct walk to the beach (if there was a path we never found it) and that their enormous 355,000 gallon lagoon pool (with swim-through waterfalls, water slide and cabanas) wasn’t going to be completed until early next year.

We still really enjoyed our stay; the room was fantastic, it was conveniently located near four sets of shops (I was on the hunt for food so we went to all of them), it is near Poipu beach where you can see turtles sunbathing daily and best of all, there was free parking!

The view from the lobby, out in the distance you can see the ocean.A lovely warm welcome when we arrived at the resort.A turtle just chilling on Poipu beach.


Transport

Oahu island –

Waikiki Trolley~ The Pink Line Trolley was our saviour! For $2 USD per ride, the pink trolley goes past the major hotels/landmarks in Waikiki and heads straight for the Ala Moana shopping center. A nice choice if you couldn’t be bothered to walk but you want to get to The Cheesecake Factory.

Remember to have exact change (who knew $1 bills would come in handy), it gets busy and sometimes there are closer stops depending on the direction (we got off at stop #13 instead of cycling all the way through to stop #10 when we got on at stop #12)

There are other coloured lines for other attractions.

Shuttle buses~ we didn’t use these but there are buses to get you from the Waikiki area to the outlets.

Car rental~ 

Oahu island –  since the Waikiki resorts are a little distance away and if you plan to go anywhere other than your resort and close facilities, I would advise to rent a car (if you’re okay driving on the other side of the road on the other side of the car for us Aussies). With our car we were able to visit Pearl Harbour, go to the outlets, go to any restaurants and head to an event that the boys were in Hawaii for.

Kauai – definitely hire a car. We stayed in Poipu and it was 30 minutes away from the airport. After arriving at the resort, everything was just a quick car ride away- the shops, restaurants, the beach, the waterfalls and the canyon.

Uber~

Not too many drivers outside of the Waikiki area and I couldn’t see any drivers when we went to Kauai island.


I hope you find some of this information useful (although this is only based on my experience), it would be the type of advice I would have liked to known before my trip.

See my other ‘Hawaiian Series‘ posts here:

Costco

IHOP

Godiva

Leonard’s bakery

The Cheesecake factory

 

Costco- Hawaiian series

After coming home from a holiday, one of the first things you have to do (besides mountains of laundry) is re-stock the fridge. For this and nearing the end of my toilet paper supply, I found myself at Costco- the little slice of America we have here.

While we were at Kauai island, it was suggested to me to visit the Costco store to see all the items that we wouldn’t see in our stores back in Oz. Here are just some of the random things I saw as we made our way through the store.BBQ beef brisket sandwich USDA choice beef brisket, BBQ sauce, coleslaw ($4.99). I ordered a beef brisket sandwich and it came out really oily, the bun was way too sweet for my liking and I didn’t finish it. The sausage in the hot dog was nicer and bigger than ours but the cheese pizza tasted exactly the same as back home.

It looked nice on one side and dripping with oil on the other.I swear the Home Alone movie has made me addicted to cheese pizza.Our Australian membership got us into the store.We get chocolate pandas and they get ‘chocorooms’.Nothing really weird about this product, I just found the name amusing.‘Stranger things’ fans can squeal like I did.Croissant or sausage and egg for breakfast? Why not have both?This made me stop in my tracks… A whole roasting pig. What the?!Different versions of poke salad.They sell massive chicken pot pies! I want this is Australia.What I found very useful as a tourist in the store were their deals on Mauna Loa macadamia nuts and Hawaiian Host chocolate, both recommended to me by my Mum when she went earlier this year. They were cheaper than buying them at other stores and made for a convenient souvenir for family.Despite the food area being outside, the layout of the Costco store in Hawaii is very similar to ours. At times it didn’t feel like we were in another country, until we came across some of these unusual items.