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On Aloha Air: Lilikoi Bars & Chocolate Chip Cookies…Plus, Nading’s Bakery & Chinatown Sweets!

March 20, 2007


The time had to come eventually *sigh* and I flew back to Claremont this past Monday. The best part of any plane trip is figuring out what kind of food to bring on the plane. Aloha Airlines does a pretty good job feeding you on mainland flights …and that’s probably just my opinion because I have an unexplained attraction to frozen microwaveable sandwiches oozing plastic cheese. Heehee. For dessert they always give lilikoi bars from Hawaii’s own Cookie Corner.

They come in little bars like this. My friend Trisha is positvely addicted to them and I can see why. With a crisp top, buttery, almost velvety shortbread base, and subtly sweet flavor rich in lilikoi (you can get the lemon or lime ones if you go to the store), it’s hard to go wrong. But the highlight of every Aloha flight are their signature warm chocolate chip cookies. An hour prior to arrival, they wheel the beverage cart down the aisles, but instead of beverages, the cart holds hundreds of chocolate chip cookies, warm with melted chocolate chips and glasses of milk. There’s no better way to end a flight in my opinion! But for the other 5 hours of the flight I have nothing to occupy myself with, so I like to play this game where I bring lots of food onto the airplane and marvel that all this glory can be found in Honolulu. And then I eat it.

My parents are always active in our hunting-around-for-food-to-pack-in-Kathy’s-carryon excursions. For this particular trip, we went to Nanding’s Bakery on Gulick in Kalihi. My dad used to run a crystal design factory near here and we’d always past this spot every morning without a second thought, thinking that this bakery with it’s old rusty sign was soon going out of business. How wrong we were! You see, a couple years ago at a potluck party someone brought a box of the most marvelous things called “Spanish rolls.” They were incredible! I ate seven of the rolls and noted down the name and address stamped on the white box. Well, time flies as you probably know, and three years later I still never visited the bakery, though did fondly recall those Spanish rolls from time to time. But last week, just two days before I had to go back to Claremont, Wanda Adam’s of the Honolulu Advertiser featured Nading’s Bakery in her weekly review. Gasp, those Spanish rolls! So I had to go.

We arrived at the Nading’s about 7:30 in the morning, and there was a line of at least a dozen people weaving out of the bakery. Cars were parked one in front of another…and the smell, oh man, the smell, the scent of hot pastries and bread simply flowed out of the open doors and into the morning air. It was enough to make you delirious.

Options are abundant and there’s everything you can imagine and more. Shown in this pictures are the ube rolls, ube ensaymadas, butter muffins, silang, and cheese breads.

I had only planned to get a few Spanish rolls for the plane ride, but there we’re so many options that I found myself ordering a dozen and four other pastries to go. The Spanish rolls are an awesome deal at 3 pieces for $1. They bake them at such a rapid rate that I was told by the lady in front of me, that you could get them hot right out of the oven any time of the day. The rolls are long and skinny, unbashfully buttery in all their golden brown glory. Dusted in cornmeal and sugar, they’re a little sweet, just a bit salty and whole lotta buttery. The dough is soft and comforting, rolled thin, then rolled round and round each other before being brushed by a bath of butter. My dad could instantly catch the smell as I brought the box back to the car. “It’s still warm!” I said. And then he ate two of my rolls in four bites. It was a good thing I got a dozen.

The tuna roll ($1) on the top was a simple yeasty bun stuffed with tuna salad. It was sort of like a tuna manapua, very local tasting. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that local tuna, potato and mac salad tastes much better than what you can get on the mainland. I know all Best Foods mayo is the same…but I swear, it tastes just a little different, just a little better, a little more mayo-ey when you get it in Hawaii. Come here, try and you will see! The ham and cheese bun ($1) and the massive cheddar-jalapeno bread ($1) on the right side was for my mom and sister. I ate the ensaymada ($1) on my flight to Kona (cause I had to layover in Kona before getting to Claremont). It was such a soft and delicate creature that I felt like I would smash it as soon as I picked it up. The dough is so rich and eggy in a way that only an abundance of egg yolks could be. The lightly browned top is slathered with a waistline expanding concoction of whipped butter and sugar. They’re major competition, but still, there’s nothing like a hot Spanish Roll!

We also stopped by Chinatown to pick up a box of Vietnamese dessert. I have no idea what they’re called, but trust me, they’re gooood! A box runs $2.50 and holds no less than a dozen ribbons in rainbow of colors. These fragrant coconut based jellies are just a bit chewy and sticky enough to bind on shreds of fresh grated coconut. Ground peanuts and sugar are mixed for a pleasantly gritty sweet and salty sensation and then dusted all around. Just one is never enough! So pretty yeah? :)

And now I just realize the only savory food I brought on the plane was the tuna manapua. Talk about balanced diet.

I’m back in school, but there’s still lotsa Hawaii posts to come :)

Nanding’s Bakery
918 Gulick Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96819
(808) 841-4731

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