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King's Hawaiian (Torrance)?

So my friend and I are meeting up at King's Hawaiian after hearing great things about the paradise cake. Is it everything it's cracked up to be? Some on line snooping also unearthed positive comments about their guava chiffon cake. They sound delicious--dare I hope delicious enough for a wedding?

Secondly, if we're there I'll definitely buy some bread after reading about how great it is for French toast. But is the restaurant worth a stop for lunch? Or should I look into nearby ramen options since I don't get down there often?

Is Musha open for lunch? I know, I know, call.

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  1. King's Hawaiian is one of those strange dichotomies, at least in my experience. Stopped one day in the eveing, wanting to pick some nice breakfast/bakery items. Wow, was everything tasty. 2 weeks later, happen to be hungry and in the area, dinner must be just as good right? Wrong. Limp salad, average or below average tasting food. Get the paradise cake, which I *have* tasted, and is totally worth it, and get the heck out.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kotatsu

      from the entree the lau lau was good .. everything else i tried was pretty much forgetable

      1. Stick to the bakery. The stuff there is great. If you must eat a meal there, the french toast made with their bread, sprinkled with macadamia nuts and served with coconut syrup is a pretty good breakfast, but most everything else can be found better elsewhere in the South Bay.

        1. I'm not really big on Hawaiian food, so personally I'd eat elsewhere. But if you like it or just want to try King's, it's not bad. The Loft is probably better, but King's is alright too.
          I've only had the Dobash cake from King's, which lots of people rave about, but I guess it would have to be your kind of thing to rave about it. To me, it just wasn't special at all.
          I love french toast made with brioche; have never tried it with the king's hawaiian bread, but that sounds really good.

            1. LIke others have mentioned, King's strength is in its baked goods. If you're interested in their guava offerings, another flavor you might be interested in is passion fruit (lilikoi). I've had this one offered in cakes a few times and it's quite pleasant, sweet and a bit tart, and the tropical undertones are more subtle than the guava.

              The food served there is really hit & miss - more misses than hits. On my last visit, I ordered the poki which was underseasoned (almost like they had just whipped it together and forgot the soy sauce and sesame seed oil) and very small for what they charged, and all of the other standards (kalua pork, lau lau, fried saimin) were just okay by South Bay standards. I've never had breakfast there so maybe if it's an early lunch, you can catch some of those menu items as well.

              1. Since it opened, I've only been there a few times and it was only because someone else suggested it. I find that the food there is unsuited for local Hawaii people just the same as the Loft. The only thing Hawaiian about this place is the name. I felt like I just came out of a Gidget movie...but I digress.

                The only thing redeeming is the cakes though. The chocolate dobash and haupia cakes are excellent as well as the rainbow and guava chiffon. The Local Place on Western and 182nd is less crowded if you want something fast. It's owned by the same people.

                1. My best friend used a King's Hawaiian cake for her wedding, and it was fabulous. Can't recall the name, but it had multiple sorbet hued layers.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: brekkie_fan

                    the bakery items are real good. dont forget to get some pineapple muffins if they have any. the food is ok, not great but not bad either. there are places in the south bay area mainly in gardena where the "local" style food is better and in greater portions.

                    1. re: AGENT FOODIE

                      What are these better places in the area? Name names!

                      1. re: Nicole

                        Bruddah's and Gardena Bowl are two of the best, both in Gardena.

                        1. re: Velvet Elvis

                          I think you hit the top of the locomoco heap...

                          1. re: Velvet Elvis

                            I could eat Bruddah's beef stew and grilled butterfish all day long. I'd love to eat a loco moco, but I'm more interested in eating the other 2 items above.

                            Was just there last week..

                          2. re: Nicole

                            True local Hawaii eating places have come and gone here in LA. Mainland folks don't appreciate the nostalgia us Hawaii locals feel about food. It's not just atmosphere and presentation that brings us back for repeat business. It's a way of life for us remembering old times and family back home. Just like music, it conjures up the good times and memories of where we were and the people we associated with. Good tasting authentic food helps too. Anyway, I digress...again...

                            Bob's Okazuya probably represents the closest thing to local Hawaii-type food here in LA. I say Hawaii-type because these are the type of dishes you'd find at plate lunch trucks and neighborhood Drive Ins in Hawaii. Hawaiian foods like lomi lomi salmon, poi, poke, lau lau, pipikaula, opihi, kalua pig, na'au, kulolo, etc. will most likey be found at traditional places like baby birthday parties/luaus and private get togethers instead of mainstream restaurants. You won't find many of these dishes offered here in the states because the ingredients are not available unless shipped fresh from Hawaii. Places have to improvise using substitute processes and products. That's why we have all of these complaint or criticisms. Nothing compares to imu cooked kalua pig vs. oven baked salted pork butt!

                            1. re: Clinton

                              I think the health dept would probably have issues with the imu and we Angelenos think that we've become too health-conscious and fear the word, "salt." But in Hawaii and throughout much of the South Pacific, digging pits and salting up the food is part of the ritual that you speak of - it's all in anticipation for the good times to come... And if you load up on the poi and breadfruit, you don't end up eating too much of the "bad stuff." Olelo mahalo!

                              1. re: Clinton

                                Bob's is great - official name has changed but th atmosphere is wonderful.

                                and the poke (only ahi poke, not my fave - i love the aku poke but can't find ithere) is one of the best things i've eaten in ages.

                                1. re: Jerome

                                  That's curious how some people prefer aku (skipjack) instead of ahi (yellowfin). Aku has always been the cheaper of the two and to some people much stronger in taste and color. When I was a kid, would you believe we used to use aku for crab bait...not any more! I'm basically traditional and prefer poke using white whole fish like aua (milkfish) or oio (bonefish) with limu (seaweed), inamona (roasted kukui nut), and chili peppers. This to me was the original way to make poke when I was growing up.

                        2. We have had great cakes from Kings and generally have liked everything we have tried from the bakery. We have had dinner there a couple of times. Most recently tried the kahula pork. It was pretty bland and textureless. It may be that I just don't "get" hawaiian food but none of the dinner fare has impressed me.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: scrappydog

                            You might want to try some of the other places that have more of a local feel to it. An easy way to judge the "authenticity" of these places is to look inside - if you see a bunch of buddha-heads and/or kanakas, good chance you've struck paydirt. Velvet Elvis mentioned two of my favorite places, as they easily fit the description that I've mentioned. If you see sides like macaroni salad, chow mein (usually heavily endorsed by places frequented by Samoans and Tongons), and the smell of spam and Portugese sausage hitting your nose, and if the place looks like it could use a little paint or updating, then it's usually places like this that locals love.

                            One thing about cuisine from the Islands is that it tends to come from two or three sources: either the ingredients are very fresh (sashimi-grade fish, certain veggies and sea veggies) which were easily sourced in Hawaii, or it comes straight out of a can and/or is loaded with salt and nitrates (spam, corned beef, Portugese sausage) which is a carryover from their past (various immigrants, military goods, storage issues) or is dried (noodles, rice). The magic comes from the preparation by the kitchen.

                            I think King's problem is two-fold. They try to be all things to everybody - that's a hard-do in itself as this typically means some LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) compromises, like making lau lau taste like it should - this might be a little off-putting to some as the butterfish and taro leaves may not suit everybody, especially if salted properly. I hated this stuff as a kid - was practically force-fed it by my relatives - but could easily polish off mounds of it now - the more butterfish and taro leaves, the better. And as I've mentioned above, the poki that I was served was the antithesis of what one would expect. The only thing that I was happy for was that the fish was not old - but it was flavorless. I think the other thing is that for some reason, running a bakery and kitchen that serves meals side-by-side is hard. I don't know the logistics of it all but doing one or the other seems to work out alot better.

                            1. re: scrappydog

                              Definitely try Hawaiian food at one of the places mentioned above before you give up on it. When done well, it is anything but bland and textureless. I would almost move back to Gardena just to be close to the good Hawaiian food in that area. I think the issue with King's is that, because their bread can be found in almost every grocery store in america, you expect it to be a shining beacon of hawaiian food. The reality, however, it that it is to Hawaiian food what Olive Garden is to Italian food. Both are a decent introduction to their respective cuisine, but neither are the best that particular cuisine has to offer.

                            2. There is this hawaiian place Bob's Ohana Hawaiian Restaurant
                              16814 S Vermont Ave
                              Gardena, CA 90247
                              we happened to go on labor day when there had been a hula school contest in Long Beach. Folks came up to bob's for lunch and got up and danced to various numbers while a band played. the band is made up of local folks who play there occasionally, weekends, some weeknights.
                              The poke was great. The other dishes were authentic tasting - this is like a little place in hawai'i - not fancy at all, some stuff on the walls, but the kind of place you'd go for if you just wanted a little saimin or a spam musubi. it's not tourist lovely fusion hawaiian food - it's fat heavy, salty simple food - macaroni salad etc that is what locals tend to eat.

                              It was a good time.

                              1. Bakery YES! Lunch....NNOOOO!!!!!!! Dinner NNNOOOOO!!!!!

                                1. Food is passable, but expensive compared to other places.

                                  The bakery items are good, I especially like the dobash cake.

                                  1. You must try the Orange Bunt cake. Get the large one.

                                    1. The Hawaiian Paradise cake is really wonderful, especially when it's just fresh baked.
                                      Incredibly light, tender, and flavorful without being too sweet. The Paradise cake is three layers - pink (guava), yellow (passion fruit), and green (I think lime). My sister used it for her wedding cake, and it was great. Recently, my co-worker got me the Hawaiian Paraside Deluxe cake for my birthday, and that was even fancier because it had fresh fruit between the layers.

                                      I believe the guava cake is the same cake as is in the Paradise cake, but the whole thing is just the guava flavor. So yes, I agree with everyone here. Go for the bakery, but not for the food. They also have wonderful fresh fruit tarts and yummy little rolled up chocolate florentine cigars that are great as an after-dinner treat with coffee.

                                      Have fun!

                                      1. Bakery is fabulous. Pinapple muffins, Dobash, Dream cake, Fresh Peach, Fresh Coconut, Haupia = Nirvana, Paradise, Mango and Passionfruit cake are all worthy of the calories.

                                        Big Island breakfast is good, but you have to ask for coconut syrup for the Kings French toast. They will bring maple otherwise. FYI - the Local Place does not serve coconut syrup.