First Byte: Liliha Bakery II Pastries


Liliha Bakery Ham & Cheese Roll, Onion Roll, Tuna Roll & Hot Dog Roll

Not surprisingly being they’re still new, chances are if you want a seat during peak breakfast, lunch or dinner hour at the new Liliha Bakery II Coffee Shop on Nimitz, you’re gonna’ have to wait a while. We wanted to have lunch there yesterday on Pauhana Friday — only their third day since opening — and were told the wait would be 30 minutes to an hour.

While Diner A went to grab lunch next door at Zippy’s instead, and Diner E went to another new lunch wagon nearby, I was determined on Liliha Bakery, deciding to try their savory pastries that are grab ‘n go at the bakery. Of  which there are five: Ham & Cheese Roll, Onion Roll, Tuna Roll, Hot Dog Roll and Pizza Roll; the latter of which not shown, as they didn’t have the Pizza Roll in stock at the time of my return visit.

Before I continue, please note I am by no means a pastry connoisseur or expert, and will probably eff-up my descriptions and names of the types of dough used and such, so please keep that in mind and tolerate me.

First let’s try the Ham & Cheese Roll…

And? Meh. Pretty much your typical deli ham & cheese sandwich you’d get at the local convenience store or in coach on an airline, albeit on a croissant/puff pastry type of “bun”. The puff pastry “bread” was fresh and soft, with an evenly toasted crust, so I’ll give it that.

Also props for the fresh and crispy iceberg lettuce and slathering of mayo’. Nice touch. But next. I wouldn’t order this again.

Next let’s try the Onion Roll…

Again, meh. The croissant/puff pastry roll (if you recognize what this dough is, please let me know) is certainly more buttery and slightly sweet on this and the rest of the savory rolls, as compared to the more neutral “bread-like” dough used for the Ham & Cheese Roll. There’s pieces of crisp bacon and bits of caramelized Onion and chopped Green Onion in it, however that didn’t really do anything for it”. There just wasn’t that “it” factor.

What I’m thinkin’ is, if you slice it in half horizontally and used it as an onion “bun” for a char-grilled hamburger. You’d get the super savory from the beef and bacon crisps, the sweet and the buttery, along with the caramelized onion flavor… I bet that would totally kick @ss!!!

As it stands by itself, next.

Next, as in the Hot Dog Roll…

The what I think is a beef-based hot dog is super, super salty, and also very smokey tasting. It’s saltiness and smokiness, when combined with the rich, buttery, slightly sweet roll is overwhelming, having you running for the nearest glass of water… or better yet milk to help neutralize your taste buds. Adding to the salty, smokey and rich factor, there’s fatty American cheese and mayonnaise, along with more salt and vinegar from the ketchup, making for just way too much in this otherwise petite package called a Hot Dog Roll.

I mean if you were punch drunk, or maybe a little kid who is more oblivious to my description, you’d probably easily wolf down a 6-pack of these. For me? Next.

Finally for the savory pastries, Let’s try the Tuna Roll…

Ding-ding-ding, we have a winner! OK, now we’re talkin’! Dude this one is off the hook! Think “Tuna Sandwich on steroids”, is the best way to describe it.

The slightly sweet & buttery croissant/puff pastry roll totally jacks up and compliments the wonderfully creamy-meets-meaty flavor of the tuna salad mixture. While the finely chopped American parsley gives it that gourmet complexity and elegance, where this would certainly be well received by guests if served for breakfast or brunch at a fine resort or first class flight.

If you go to Liliha Bakery and want a quick, tasty, savory bite for lunch or a snack without waiting for service in the Coffee Shop, I highly recommend their Tuna Roll in the bakery display case. Just $2.50 each, and supah ono Winnahz!

Now let’s move on to “dessert” with some of Liliha Bakery’s proven favorites, as well as a few offbeat ones.

Here we have a spread of Liliha Bakery’s famous Brownie, Palm Leaves cookies, a Coco Puff, a Cream Puff and a Green Tea Puff.

Being Liliha Bakery II is still in “soft opening” mode, having only opened a few days ago, EXPECT HICCUPS. Not everything’s gonna’ go smoothly. As was the case with this Chocolate Walnut Brownie, that upon cutting through it with a knife, Diner E discovered the inside of the dough was still raw. I mean, we like our brownie chewy, but not THAT chewy.

While I didn’t get a shot of it, I’m sure you know what raw dough looks like. So he simply wrapped it back up, took it right back and got a refund. No probs. Again, they’re still new, so we understand.

Next up we have Palm Leaves, which are cookies made of dough that’s swirled on a pan to (loosely) resemble a palm leaf, lightly coated with a sweet glaze.

First of all, the Palm Leaves at Nimitz look and taste 100% identical to the ones you get at the Liliha location. With that, they have this deep, toasty, caramelized flavor profile that’s unlike any other cookie you’ve tasted, along with a slightly chewy, mostly crunchy chew to it. It’s hard to describe it more than that, except all I’m saying is if you’ve never tried them before, GET IT. They’re one-of-a-kind, and yet another Liliha Bakery claim-to-fame fave.

The only problem is they’re kinda’ pricey at the Nimitz location, running over $6 for that small bag. Still, if you’ve never been to Liliha Bakery before, Palm Leaves are a MUST for your first time visit. In fact, if you’re flying back home, get several bags, as they’re very addictive!

On to the line of Puff pastries, First let’s see if the Coco Puff at Nimitz tastes the same as the one from the original Liliha location.

Looking at the Coco Puff, the uninitiated must wonder what’s “Coco” about it. Well that would be the Chocolate pudding it’s filled with…

And does it taste the same as the original location? Yup. Like the Palm Leaves,100% identical. From the rich, sweet ‘n buttery Chantilly topping, to the creamy chocolate pudding filling, to the slightly chewy, yet airy choux creme puff shell, the Coco Puffs didn’t skip a beat on their migration to Iwilei.

Next let’s try the Cream Puff..

As advertised, the Cream Puff has a creamy custard in it vs. the chocolate pudding in the Coco Puff. It also doesn’t have any frosting on top, instead being dusted generously with confectioners sugar. I actuallyprefer the Cream Puff more than the Coco Puff, as it’s not as rich or “busy” as the Coco Puff.

Finally for the puffs, let’s try the Green Tea Puff…

I’m not sure what that stuff sprinkled on it is, but it’s lightly salty in a GREAT way.

All I can say is the Green Tea Puff is by far my favorite of all the Liliha Bakery Puffs. Winnahz! It’s not too busy like the Coco Puff or plain like the Cream Puff. That lightly salty topping they put on the green tea flavored Chantilly, along with the green tea flavored creamy pudding filling totally compliment each other. If you’ve never tried the Green Tea Puff  yet, DO IT. I almost guarantee you’ll agree with me, Diner A and Diner E that the Green Tea is the best of the Puffs.

While Diner A didn’t have lunch there, he wanted some dessert to go with his Zippy’s plate lunch, deciding to try Liliha Bakery’s Pineapple Round Cake…

This was a little pricey at $3.50 each, yet Diner A noticed this was the last one left, so he thought, “Hmm, must be damned good if it’s almost sold out!”, and got the last one.

As I noted in my Yelp photo caption of this, the best way to describe it, is think of it as the sweet bundt cake version of a Glazed Baked Ham with Pineapple on it. It that same deeply caramelized and toasty baked crust on it, while the Pineapple slice adds this wonderful gelatinous tropical finish to it, sort of like having Pineapple Jelly on it.

The bundt type cake (or is it Pound cake? Or Sponge cake?) is slightly crumbly, yet very, very moist, while being creamy and sweet, yet not too sweet. Jusssss’ right.

Diner E also scored this Blueberry Cream Square for FREE the day prior to their grand opening…

And? Because there was no sign at the time, he thought it was a Cheesecake and was expecting that, not realizing it’s actually called a Blueberry Cream Square. So he and his wife didn’t really care for it, as they were expecting it to have that rich flavor of cheesecake, only to find it was more light and creamy like a dense whipped cream, if you will. I’d probably like it, as I like light and creamy desserts.

That said, of all the pastries reviewed here, on your visit to Liliha Bakery II (or the original), the ones I highly recommend you choose are the Tuna Roll for that savory craving, along with the Green Tea Puffs, Pineapple Round Cake and Palm Leaves…. all broke da’ mout’ onolicious winnahz!

Liliha Bakery II
580 N. Nimitz Hwy.
Honolulu, Hawaii  96817
Tel. (808) 537-2488

Related links:
Liliha Bakery – official website
Liliha Bakery II (Nimitz) – Yelp user reviews
Liliha Bakery (original location) – Yelp user reviews
Liliha Bakery – TripAdvisor user reviews

The Tasty Island related links:
Lilha Bakery Nimitz Now Open!
Liliha Bakery Nimitz June 2014 Update
Liliha Bakery Nimitz Update
Liliha Bakery’s Famous Coco Puffs
Liliha Bakery’s Coco Puff Cake

P.S. Since Diner A didn’t wanna’ wait up to an hour to have lunch at Liliha Bakery II’s Coffee Shop, he opted to walk next door and grab this $6 Teriyaki Pork Mini Plate Lunch from Zippy’s fast food counter. And? Thumbs up. He said the Teriyaki Pork is better than the Teriyaki Beef, having more flavor, while the teri’ sauce was generous on this serving. He also loved the flavor combination of the teri’ sauce with the mac’ salad. “Mean, cuz” is what he said. lol

At the same time, Diner E opted to grab lunch from Michi’s Cooking Fresh For You lunch truck, who recently began service in the open side parking lot at Hilo Hattie.

That there is Michi’s Asian BBQ Turkey Meat Loaf mini plate for $6. Diner E gave it a big thumbs-up, saying the Turkey Meatloaf was super moist and tasty, as was the Asian BBQ glaze and house-made vinaigrette dressing on the locally-farmed tossed green salad.

Looking over their menu, I’m SO hitting Michi’s Cooking Fresh For You lunch truck next time! I got dibs on the Basil Eggplant and the Thai Curry. Sounds yummerz! :-)


Zippy’s Cream Puff and Chocolate Cream Puff

Finally, Diner A was curious how Zippy’s Coco Puff and Cream Puff knock-off compared with Liliha Bakery’s originals, so he bought a couple to find out.

I mean, they couldn’t get any more blatantly copycat than that, from the chocolate pudding to the chantilly frosting.

Not that Zippy’s are the only ones who copy Liliha Bakery either, as Ani’s also sells their take on Coco Puffs called Chocolate Cream Puffs for $14.98/10 pieces at Costco …

So how do they compare? Well first of all let’s talk price. Zippy’s “Coco Puff” costs 80 cents each vs. Liliha Bakery’s original Coco Puff, which costs $1.54 each. So we’re talking nearly half the price for the Zippy’s knock-off, as it should be. If you do the math, it comes out to $18.48 for a dozen Liliha Coco Puffs vs. $9.60 for a dozen of Zippy’s “Coco Puff” knock-offs.


Zippy’s Chocolate Cream Puff and Cream Puff

And does the Liliha Bakery Coco Puff taste twice-the-price worth as good? I’d say it’s about 60% better than Zippy’s, not a 100% better. If you’ve never tried Liliha’s original, you’d be just as happy with Zippy’s knock-off.

What you do if you’re taking them to a large party is, you serve all the “discriminating” adults the Liliha Bakery Coco Puffs, and da’ keedz get the Zippy’s knock-off “Coco Puffs”. They’d never know the difference! lol

If you want to see the REAL Choux Creme, my friend Kachan from Japan makes the ULTIMATE Choux Creme

Also from Japan, there’s Beard Papa’s Cream Puffs, which are also true to the original French Choux Creme recipe…

That’s all for now. Toodles! ;-)