Now that Orange County has made poke as indispensable a part of our diet as tacos and pho, what's going to be the next food to go viral? My vote is on malasadas. Somewhere between a sugar doughnut and a beignet, they're a fluffy, stuffed, fried zenith rolled in sugar. Hawaii's coffee shops, restaurants and even gas stations stock malasadas, with the most famous shop being Leonard's in Honolulu; its goofy commercials have bewildered tourists for decades, with a recent one featuring a guy eating one while skydiving.
Given the tight connection between OC and the Aloha State, I'm surprised the dessert hasn't already taken off more than it has here. Sidecar Doughnuts makes some good ones, Da Hawaiian Kitchen fries them up on weekends, and that's about it. But if the success of Dough Doughs Hawaiian Cafe is any indication, we'll be obsessing over malasadas next year the way we used to over blueberry doughnuts. The diner (which shares a space with the excellent Hula Girls Shave Ice) has a menu full of island grindz, from steaming bowls of saimin and epic plate lunches to breakfast burritos (this is HB, after all) stuffed with SPAM and linguiça. It's the only local Hawaiian restaurant I know that sells chili spaghetti, a Hawaiian favorite that's exactly what it sounds like—and you're served enough to feed a Boy Scout troop. But you know this place is malasada-centric because when you order one at the same time as an appetizer and a main course, the malasada is brought out first.
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Dough Doughs offers a build-it-yourself option or six preselected combos; start with the combos to see the dive's talents in action. The No. 6 piña colada oozes with each bite; the Neapolitan features chocolate, vanilla and strawberry filling and mixes with the ease of getting your partner to join in a luau. Mini ones are available as well, but whatever you order, be prepared to lick your fingers and shirt: The malasadas rain sugar on you as if you were the protagonist in Def Leppard's masterpiece.
Dough Doughs Hawaiian Cafe, 16552 Bolsa Chica St., Huntington Beach, (714) 846-8253; www.doughdoughshawaiiancafe.com.