These signature desserts are the grand finales to a perfect meal.
We all know the feeling … You’ve enjoyed a perfect meal, but something is missing. There’s a lingering need for the punchline, the exclamation point, the cherry to top it all off. Basically, your palate needs something sweet to feel complete. Bustling Kalakaua Avenue boasts any number of pitstops offering countless tempting confections, but to make the selection easier, we’ve rounded up a list of Waikiki’s finest signature desserts.
Lava cake bursts with tropical innuendo, and this one sports local ingredients. The Beachhouse at the Moana, with its courtyard dining, beside a tangled banyan, overlooking sand-play and surf-sport, is already transportive, but order the Chocolate Decadence and the explosion of molten gooey goodness takes the taste buds on a thrill ride. A side array of fresh mint and strawberries from Kula, Maui adds to the mix of textures, as do the salted Hawaiian ganache smeared underneath the Decadence and the cacao nibs sprinkled alongside it.
“It’s a comforting, fill your thighs, stick-to-your-ribs type of dessert for when you get a chocolate craving, because we all get chocolate cravings!” says Chef William Chen.
Halekulani’s Signature Coconut Cake
Nothing quite says “aloha” like a large slice of coconut cake at Orchids restaurant. Sitting at the beachside lanai, wafting salty breezes tease the nostrils with Diamond Head crater creating a majestic backdrop in the distance. A plate of pure snowy fluff arrives at the table, but it fits right into the setting. Layers of light-as-air chiffon cake are separated by equally delicate ribbons of coconut-amaretto cream. Blanketing the slice is a generous helping of whipping cream covered in coconut flakes.
“This cake is very simple, but it goes back to the beginning of time,” says pastry chef Mark Freischmidt.
“It’s been here so long that there’s a bit of lore to it, but no one quite knows where it originated. It’s extremely popular. We go through 10 or more whole cakes a day.”
Doraku invites guests to experience an altogether surprising Asian twist on a traditional comfort food. Lift a crispy, golden finger from the plateful of tempura and you get a warm, melty chocolate surprise when you discover a brownie inside.
“We don’t have a large selection of deserts, but we like to play around and change it up a bit,” says Chef Pieter Van Staden.
The brownies are homemade, then dipped in a tempura batter and fried. A scoop of vanilla ice cream adds a delightful contrast, and a touch of strawberry sauce; chocolate sauce and crumbled macadamia provide a complementary finish to the orient-themed delicacy. The Doraku team is serious about playing with their dessert menu. Look for one of their newest items: Matcha Cheesecake Sushi Rolls. You’d swear you’re seeing a plate of sushi, but bite in and you’ll discover a morsel of cheesecake wrapped in a thin sheet of matcha sponge cake. There’s nothing aquatic about the small orange balls on top and the brown sauce isn’t soy. It’s candy sprinkles and chocolate sauce that add just the right touch of sweetness to the rolls.
Chocolate Peanut Bombe
Morimoto’s gourmet delicacy, the Chocolate Peanut Bombe, is worthy of poetry. It’s an epicurean work of art, stunning to the eyes and the tongue. It arrives looking something like a rectangular box, dusted with chocolate and accented at one corner with a speck of gold leaf. The shape belies the silky airiness of its content.
“It’s a peanut butter mousse,” says lead pastry cook Kelly Teramoto. “Inside is a dark chocolate cremeux which is like a soft ganache. It’s topped with candied peanuts or peanut dragee. It’s all peanuts and chocolate.”
Next to the mousse, an egg-shaped serving of salted peanut butter ice cream nests on a scoop of peanut butter dust. The luxurious creation is crowned with a thin wave of solid chocolate. Underneath it all is a smudge of milk chocolate cremeux. It’s easy to agree, this is the bomb! You’re basically floating on clouds with every bite.
Kimo’s Original Hula Pie
For a dose of unadulterated indulgence, right on the shore of Waikiki Beach, beneath palm trees, amid vacation air heady with the scent of coconut oil, head to Duke’s Waikiki. Once you take a spoonful of Kimo’s Original Hula Pie your spoon will keep going back for more until there’s nothing left on the plate.
“When you strip it all down,” notes Sous Chef William Bruhl, “the Hula Pie is a very beautiful mud pie, made with double premium macadamia nut ice cream, a homemade Oreo crust, chocolate fudge topping… with a second helping of chocolate fudge topping, whipping cream and toasted mac nuts over the top. It’s best when shared between two because it’s so massive.”
Duke’s sells an average of 120 to 175 of the enormously popular ice cream pies a day, which according to the menu are “what the sailors swam to shore for.”