Honolulu Magazine – Biting Commentary
Who Can Say No to Pies By Grandpa?
Hawaiian Pie Co Promises To Be A Party Pleaser
PHOTOS: KELSEY AMOS
We’ve all got our list of go-to local goodies and treats to take to parties and present as omiyage. Here’s one to add to the rotation: Hawaiian Pie Co. Open since last December on Wai‘akamilo Road in Kalihi, this purveyor of pies and other pastries has the right combination of local flair and uncomplicated yumminess to please any crowd.
So how does all this history taste? We sampled the classic apple and coconut flavors, and got single slices of the newer creations including peach-pineapple, passion-pear and this month’s special, the Aloha Medley. Then we threw in an apple fritter, because who can say no to Grandpa?
Its backstory is cute. Hawaiian Pie Co. is run by the Hori family, which has been baking on Oʻahu and the Big Island for three generations. This is reflected on their menu, which features a classic selection of “Grandpa Yoshio’s Pies with Butter” as well as a “next generation” menu of pies developed more recently. There’s also “Grandpa Yasu’s Specials” which are daily, non-pie specials that are actually pretty exciting, including apple fritters, bostock (a cousin of French toast, almond-y goodness built on day-old brioche), bread pudding and manju. Follow on Instagram to find out what Grandpa is up to.
The standout for us was the passion pear. The liliko‘i and pear filling somehow lacked an assertive liliko‘i flavor, and, come to think of it, wasn’t forcefully pear either. What made this pie stand out was the “Hawaiian Topping,” a mysterious swirl that tastes like half crumble, half butter mochi. Any pie with this topping is bound to be great. The peach-pineapple filling was probably the most notable for its light, fresh pineapple flavor. For us, the Aloha Medley—this month’s special mix of pineapple, peach, strawberry, mango and lychee—had too much going on. The classic coconut was great, with a flavorful coconut filling that was simultaneously soft and chewy, similar to the Hawaiian Topping, but maybe too rich over a whole slice. The apple fritter was airy, sticky and sweet; we’d eat it for breakfast any day.
The fillings in all of the fruit pies we tried were thick and gooey, oozing out from between the layers of crust when you go to fork up a bite. It’s unclear how this is achieved. If you scoop up some of it with your finger, you’ll find that it holds its shape; it’s like a fruit pudding with bits of canned and fresh fruit providing the texture.
Although much is made on the menu about the buttery crusts, we found them to be upstaged by this magic filling. They are certainly very good crusts, though they had a taste that didn’t seem to have the character of butter. When we asked the guy at the register, he said they use shortening.
Still, these pies are delicious. They come fresh-baked as well as frozen, and, with the assortment of goodies on rotation at a shop with parking, next time we’re on our way to a potluck we’ll skip Ted’s or Napoleon’s and stop by Hawaiian Pie Co.
$5–$6 single slices, $20–$23 full pies. 508 Wai‘akamilo Road, open 7 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday, 988-7828, hawaiianpieco.com
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