Review: Where to get Cronut-style pastries in Hawaii
You know you're onto something when a network sitcom dedicates an entire episode to buying and selling your product on the black market.
And no, we're not talking about drugs, although based on the (still!) insanely long lines, one might say Cronuts are definitely addictive and, we can only presume, orgasmically delicious.
Sadly, our deprived taste buds haven't had the good fortune of experiencing Dominique Ansel's holy grail of creations (they're New-York-City-only, for now), so we decided to seek out the alternatives. Did we get a taste of the croissant-y, doughnut-y goodness we've been craving? Find out below, ranked in an extremely unscientific order of Cronut-iness.
Sometimes, the most elusive, mythical beasts can be found in the most unexpected places. Hidden in the bakery section of corporate behemoth Safeway Beretania, tucked between sugar-free fruit pies from who-knows-where and flat-looking brownie bites tightly sealed in plastic, are some “croissant doughnuts.” They come in both cinnamon and glazed flavors, and one look at these doughy beasts makes it clear that this is no ordinary doughnut. A precariously teetering tower of what is apparently croissant-based, the best part of this croissant doughnut is the fact that it's ... a lot of doughnut. We love doughnuts. Great. So a lot of doughnut is pretty extra great. But does making it big and slightly crispier make it a Cronut? $6 for box of four, 1234 S. Beretania St.
Just down Piikoi Street, Saint-Germain Bakery once peddled its own version of the Cronut, also called a croissant doughnut. According to the bakery's website, this prized treat is only sold at the two Ala Moana locations, with only 100 doughnuts in each production, but at some point they stopped selling them entirely. Were the croissant doughnuts too popular, suffering a fate not unlike Flappy Bird's?
What are you missing? These babies, which came in strawberry and custard, weren’t exactly towering like their online photos showed, but more like the size of flat doughnut whoopie pies. They were light and filled with custard, though, and who doesn’t like that? The reason the bakery stopped their production remains a mystery.
If Saint-Germain is the demure and mature imitation sister, and Safeway is the apathetic corporate reproduction brother, Regal Bakery is the wild-child baby of the family, desperately trying to carve out a super-cool identity for itself (preferably with lots of color). Introducing the Butternut (ahem. The lovely Martha Cheng puts it best), which come in flavors such as green tea and POG, and are drizzled in icing and stuffed with sweet filling—lots of it. It has that oddly satisfying texture that you used to get in elementary school when you’d mash your bread together into soft but dense little cubes, but it's hardly the heavenly pastry experience we were hoping for. How we imagine the Cronut to taste (flaky, airy)—or rather, how we imagine the Cronut would make us feel (enlightened, ecstatic, delirious )—just isn’t there. $3 each, 100 N. Beretania St., Suite 105.
Pacific Beach Hotel
The croissadas that fill the pastry case at the hotel's Aloha Center Cafe are impressive: large, fluffy pillows of sugary pastry filled with creamy Polynesian vanilla Bavarian cream or tart lilikoi (shown above). Our verdict? Though we very much enjoyed the croissada's soft texture, generous cream-to-dough ratio and crispy, sugary crunch, it was mostly malassada with very little trace of doughnut. Layers of pastry were clearly visible around the edges, but hardly made a difference in taste or texture. Couple that with Waikiki's limited and expensive parking options and we're forced to admit: If we're not already in the area, we'd rather get our sugar fix at Leonard's. $3.50 each, comes with a free small coffee, 2490 Kalakaua Ave.
Maybe we're setting our expectations too high, basing our standards on an imaginary, unattainable role model. Maybe, like our therapist says about our relationships, we’re approaching each doughnut with such high demands of excellence that they're "doomed to fail."
Or maybe we’re waiting for that one chance to finally find our Cronut Connor MacLeod: There can be only one.