For the better part of this summer, my office has been fueled by donuts. Three new donut shops with rather distinct offerings opened in Honolulu in July — on top of a fourth buzz-worthy newcomer late last year. It’s gotten so that my eyes are getting dry. Why? Because if I blink, yet more donuts might appear!
Every time I rolled out Instagrams of new donuts, Frolic readers ate them up like it was their job. So here you go, ravenous readers: Your guide to Honolulu’s new donuts.
Opened: November 2016
Where: 2919 Kapiolani Blvd.
Hours: Weekdays 6 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Donut King replaced the old Torito’s Mexican Food in Market City Shopping Center back in November. The family owned a donut shop in Bakersfield, California for 14 years before moving to Hawaii. On Instagram, their donuts are instantly recognizable because they’re at least 10 times bigger than others in town and seriously droolworthy. There are puffy yeast rings to dense old-fashioned cake donuts and buttermilk bars, plus creations like the maple bacon donut and croissant-donut (“cronut”) hybrid.
I’m all about simple flavors and classic execution so the glazed old fashioneds ($1.45) and buttermilk bars ($1.85) are my favorites. They keep — they won’t change much even if I let them sit for a few hours — but they’re so tasty, I don’t let them sit.
Dukes Lane Market & Eatery
Opened: July 5
Where: 2255 Kuhio Ave.
Hours: 6 – 10 a.m.
Executive pastry chef Mayumi Yamamoto and her team fry up fresh batches of locally inspired donuts at 6, 7 and 8 a.m. daily. Think lilikoi with toasted coconut. Butter mochi. Mango. With a different donut every day and a rotation between mochi pon-de-ring, old fashioned and malasada styles, it’s next to impossible to try all of the permutations. And at $1 apiece, they’re the cheapest per unit, but there are no discounts on half- or full-dozen boxes. You just need to be quick — these limited treats do-nut last past 10 a.m.
The mochi donuts are small, but pack a lot of flavor and texture. They’re crunchier on the outside and give way to a nice, glutinous chew; the tartness of the lilikoi is softened by the sweet glaze. The old fashioned donuts are dense and moist even the next day – perfect for dunking into a cup of coffee. I have yet to snag a malasada.
Opened: July 26
Where: 8270 Ualena St.
Hours: 5 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily
America’s favorite coffee and donut chain is back in Hawaii and like many locals, I’m happy to see them. Whether you grew up on Dunkin’ or you’re just a fan of the coffee, there’s no denying that bringing a box of Dunkin’ Donuts or Munchkins to work earns you choke brownie (or donut?) points. I’m partial to the semi-exclusive guava-filled donuts, which are only available in Hawaii and Latin America locations. A dozen simple donuts will set you back $10.99.
With lines going around the block for the first Hawaii location in the airport industrial area, westside residents might want to wait until a second store (and drive-through) open later this summer at Kapolei Commons. Thirteen more Hawaii locations have yet to be announced but will be at or near Aloha Petroleum-owned gas stations.
MoDo Hawaii at Mitsuwa Marketplace
Opened: July 27
Where: 2330 Kalakaua Ave. #250
Hours: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily
MoDo, which I assume is short for “mochi donut,” is the newest kid on the donut block and can be found in the back of Mitsuwa Marketplace on the second floor of the International Market Place. From the same family as Watanabe Bakery, it soft-opened on July 27 and has been teasing followers with images of pon-de-ring donuts draped with thick glazes. MoDo doesn’t just dabble in sugary glazes, oh no. They’re going all out with a rainbow of Japanese flavors like kurogoma (black sesame) and hojicha roasted tea. Other flavors include strawberry and chocolate.
I really like the nutty, salty-sweet flavor of the kurogoma donut — it’s reminiscent of black sesame ice cream — and the chewy texture reminds me of Japan’s Mister Donut pon-de-ring. Strawberry is creamy, not unlike a milkshake, and the sweetest option by far. Prices range $1.50 to $1.95 each, so they’re pricey but not more than the poi mochi donuts at Liliha Bakery.