A Shady Path to a Delicious Treat on Molokai
Photos by Will McGough
One of the world's shadiest bakeries is found on the island of Molokai, and I don't use that description because you'll find it in the shadow of a palm tree.
Kanemitsu's Bakery is a normal bread, pastry and coffee shop with a front entrance by day, but when night falls, things get a little creepy, and wildly delicious, in the quiet town of Kaunakakai. Follow along as I venture through dark alleys and back entrances to sample Molokai's infamous late-night treat: Kanemitsu's Hot Bread.
As I walked down the center street of town, the storefronts were dark. But in that darkness I noticed a neon sign that seemed a little out of place. As I approached, I saw that the sign belonged to Kanemitsu’s Bakery. The weird thing was that everything was locked up and the lights were out. Still, the sign said — no, screamed — that it was open. It definitely didn’t seem like it.
Then, I saw someone walk out of the small grocery store down the street. I went over to ask about it. The bakery? The sign? What’s up with that? She pointed to the right of the building, to an alley. Go that way, she told me. It’s open around back. Okay….
Facing the bakery, I took the alley to the right of the building. For the first twenty yards or so, I was wondering if the girl, a local, was messing with me. After all, Molokai does hold “Kingdom of Hawaii 2” meetings, and to say they could take or leave tourism would be an understatement. Still, in the spirit of adventure, I forge on down the alley, past a short chain-link fence, towards a soft-glowing streetlight. Then, on the left, down another small corridor, I saw another light.
I was out of the alley, now in a covered corridor. At least I was getting closer to being inside something, I remember thinking. I still had yet to see a sign for the bakery, but somehow it felt promising. I raised my nose to the air. It certainly smelled promising. I continued on.
As I reached the end of the outdoor, covered corridor and turned the corner, I was met with a dead end. It looked like some sort of back entrance at first, until I noticed the small window. I was in the right place. There was a menu taped to the door, written in black permanent marker.
Hot bread is essentially a huge donut. It is a giant loaf of bread with your choice of sweet filling. Options include strawberry, blueberry, cream cheese, butter and cinnamon. You can create your own, or go with "the works." I chose blueberry cream cheese at the recommendation of the attendant, who was far friendlier than I expected given the shady journey and my dim surroundings.
At first, I was surprised that the hot bread was going to cost me $7. Hawaii is expensive, but still... it’s a donut. When it came out, I realized it wasn’t so bad a deal, as it is absolutely huge, enough for two people to share. The hot bread comes in a plastic bag, adding one last element of casualness to the experience.
Inside the loaf of hot bread, you'll find your toppings mixed up in gooey delight. It was a sweet, ironic ending to an odd, memorable quest for a late-night snack at what has to be one of the shadiest bakeries we've ever visited.
If You Go: Kanemitsu's Bakery serves hot bread only at night, starting around 8:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. on weeknights. It is open later on the weekend, typically until midnight or thereabouts. Details of its hours are hard to find and presumably change frequently, so be sure to double check when you get to town. Or, you can simply drive by and look for the neon sign, which indicates that hot bread is now for sale.
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