King’s Hawaiian, Torrance
July 27, 2011 1 Comment
Everyone has a handful of restaurants that are destination restaurants; places that are worth the extra long drive and the clearing out of an entire Saturday morning to worship. King’s Hawaiian in Torrance, California is one of those restaurants for me. Locally, their cakes and pastries are a cultural fixture, ubiquitous at any event that calls for a sweet finish. Everywhere else, throughout the country, people devour their signature Hawaiian sweet rolls or bread. A restaurant that has retained its homey, down to earth quality despite being the face of an enormous, million dollar baked good empire, King’s Hawaiian serves well-executed classics and a great variety of Asian and Hawaiian-inspired fare, keeping things tasty and exciting.
I only found out about King’s Hawaiian from a friend who grew up in Torrance after emigrating from South Korea. Two years ago, for my birthday, she brought to San Diego not one, but two cakes from King’s Hawaiian. (It’s wonderful when your friends know you so well, haha.) I recognized the brand from packages of sweet rolls that my mom would buy from Costco, but the cakes were new to me. One them was a fruit tart (delicious, but pretty standard) and the other was King’s Hawaiian’s famous Hawaiian Paradise cake: a divine three layer cake with fluffy whipped cream. Each cake layer is a different flavor, so one bite of Hawiian Paradise comprises of guava, passionfruit, and lime. The Hawaiian Paradise cake is two cakes away from the carrot cake shown below. No one does chiffon cakes quite like King’s Hawaiian.
Because the restaurant is so busy (especially on weekends) it’s absolute torture waiting for a table. The only indoor waiting area is the space occupied by the bakery itself, a wonderland of cakes and rolls. Rolls like those in the picture are available in almost every grocery store around the country. Lightly toasted with a thin spread of butter, they have complemented many a breakfast, lunch, or dinner back home.
There’s always a reason to check out King’s Hawaiian, even if you’re looking for a cake that is more conventional. Below, strawberry cheesecake, tres leches cake, black forest cake, and tiramisu cake. I’d like a slice of each, please!
They think of everything here, even providing nifty cake cutters for customers.
When I saw these muffins, I had to be physically restrained from buying a dozen to eat for breakfast for two weeks.
Good thing we were seated soon after. Service at King’s Hawaiian has always been friendly and prompt, so we were able to get our beverages and order quickly. Stephen went with an omelette.
Packed with cheddar cheese, Portuguese sausage (a speciality of King’s Hawaiian), green peppers, and onions, it’s everything he loves in an omelette. The Portuguese sausage at King’s Hawaiian is an institution to be respected. Juicy and meaty, this is not your ordinary Jimmy Dean variety. The omelette also came with a side of King’s Hawaiian toast.
Butter soaked, extra-thick slices, perfectly toasted. Blueberry or strawberry jam for some sweetness. Mmm…
I had previously gone for more traditional, eggs/sausage/toast type meals, but feeling a touch experimental that day, I ordered the King’s Hawaiian Fried Rice.
The fried rice was delicious. Perforating the egg and letting the yolk ooze and drip into the soy-infused rice is the necessary first step. The chunks of fishcake, onions, Portuguese sausage, and scallions make each bite well-balanced, hearty, and satisfying. This fried rice is not the ordinary, over-salted kind with canned peas and carrots. It is the kind of fried rice that magically vanishes from the plate, not the kind that languishes in the to-go box as a tasteless accompaniment to fried chicken with a sugary glaze.
After our soul and stomach gratifying meal, we did take one pastry home.
It’s some kind of sugar-coated sweet roll. When I saw it in the window, I thought it might have been cream-filled.
As you can see, it is not cream-filled. But it still had an enjoyable challah-like texture and I liked the subtle sweetness from the sugar coating. Next time, I am definitely bringing home a whole cake. It will be the Hawaiian Paradise cake and it will just be for me.
King’s Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant
2808 West Sepulveda Boulevard
Torrance, CA 90505