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Jun 6, 2010 12:35 PM

Natas Malasadas

I have really great friends. It is a pretty fabulous friend who, knowing she is driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco makes a special stop just to bring The Ho a Bay Area rarity, Portuguese Doughnuts known as Malasadas. It was my buddy, Lisa, who did just that. A few days before my birthday, when Lisa was visiting family down south and stopped at Natas Pastries in Sherman Oaks. Here in the Bay Area, the only Portuguese Bakeries I can locate seem to be in Hayward or Santa Clara, cities I just don’t get to very often (okay, those are cities I don’t ever remember having gone to at all).

So I was pretty stoked when, after a 6+ hour drive, Lisa deposits on my doorstep a small white box filled with three Portuguese malasadas (also known as malazadas or malassadas). History has them being produced for the first time on the Island of Madeira and the Azores. As with many of the other European-centric doughnut offerings, it is said that the malasadas originated by the necessity of using up sugar and lard before Lent, making them classically served for Mardi Gras.

Like my recently-prepared Pączki, these yeast-risen offerings are supposed to include a great deal of egg yolks and heavy cream. And while I greatly enjoyed the Natas malasadas that Lisa procured for me, now that I have tasted a REAL egg and cream-based doughnut, I am inclined to believe that these from a store have come from a different recipe. They are more like the standard bombolini I have been trying of late; very light and fluffy with a tender crumb. Two of the ones Lisa brought were just the fried dough while the third, larger one was filled with custard. Dusted with granulated sugar and even despite a very lengthy car ride, these were very rich, excellently-prepared doughnuts. The custard was not too sweet and quite rich. In some fashion, I much preferred these over the bombolini and continue to be very appreciate and grateful of my darling friend, Lisa.

Pictures on

Natas Pastries
13317 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA

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  1. This is a great find, thank you! The only times I have had malasadas were from visits to my Portugese grandmother (more than 20 years ago now) and on trips to Hawaii! I know where I'm going this weekend...
    Love the link, too. :)

    1. Haven't really found really good malassadas here in SoCal yet. Will have to try out Natas Pastries sometime and compare it to Leonard's in Hawaii. Do they make it to order or are they sitting behind a counter like doughnuts at a doughnut place? Nothing like chomping down on a steamy hot malassada with a brown crispy skin, soft light eggy insides, and getting sugar all over your lips. Truly decadent!

      Natas Pastries
      13317 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA

      7 Replies
      1. re: Clinton

        >>Do they make it to order or are they sitting behind a counter like doughnuts at a doughnut place?<<

        Unfortunately, no. I recall the various obon festivals in The Islands as well as over here in SoCal being the main source for fresh straight-out-of-the-fryer malasadas (my relatives call them dango). Nata's are very good - but if you want them piping hot, you'd probably have to call them to see if they have any kind of schedule that would allow you to do so. Their version is bigger than I recall at the obon festivals - they also come individually - not on a stick. You'll probably notice these to be sturdier and richer than the versions that you and I were brought up with as well. And you should probably call first before heading out, as their inventory tends to be on the lighter side, and I've gotten shut out more often than not.

        1. re: bulavinaka

          Thanks for your feedback bulavinaka. But I think your interpretation of malassada sounds like the Japanese Okinawa dango or andagi as they call it in Hawaii. BTW, I'm chomping down on several fresh crunchy dangos from the Gardena JCI carnival as I type this. They used to come three to a bamboo stick but now they're in a small plastic bag. The malassadas I was referring to happens to be of the Portuguese version which basically is deep fried sweetbread coated with sugar. Leonard's Bakery on Kapahulu Avenue on the island of Oahu is probably the most famous for this.

          1. re: Clinton

            You are correct - I've only had the Okinawan dango in Hawaii. I guess my relatives kept me sheltered for all of those summers... :)

            1. re: Clinton

              Had some dango's at some recent Obon's in the LA area last month. The best were at Gardena and Higashi. To me a dango is a close cousin to a buttermilk bar/donut and no where close to a malasada. Nothin can come close to a freshly made batch from Leonard's.

          2. re: Clinton

            The original malasadas in Hawai'i were created at the Tex Drive-In in Honoka'a on the big island, just east of Waimea. Delicious, fattening, and better by the dozen!!!
            Perfect stop when driving from Hilo to the hotels in Waikoloa. Natas are not in the same league, but satisfactory in lieu of the airfare and time involved!

            1. re: carter

              Thanks carter. Never heard of Tex Drive-In since I've never been to the big island. I've mentioned Leonard's Bakery and for me, that is the only place I can remember way back in the early 50s that made them. I heard Champions makes a pretty decent malassada too?

              1. re: carter

                mmm...Tex's Drive In--ONO!! I'd love to find a malasada place out here...will have to try Natas!

            2. Thanks for the background info on the malasada. Portuguese immigrant workers from the Azores did go to Hawaii in the 19th Century to work the sugar cane and pineapple fields. My favorite Malasada on Oahu in Hawaii is Leonards, while others like Champions. Never tried Tex Drive-in.

              The famous King's Hawaiian Sweet Bread is also from the influence of the Portuguese Azore immigrants.

              We're sure to make a trip to Natas very soon.

              1. While I can appreciate Natas in general for bringing Portuguese pastries etc to the valley, her Malasadas are not the traditional hawaiian ones I grew up with and that my mom makes. Hers are uniformly round shaped and I am used to the odd shaped one's with crunchy little nibs, a light, eggy interior and a nice coating of sugar.

                6 Replies
                1. re: foodnmusic

                  Now that's a good malassada! That's how I remember Leonard's made them when I was a youngster. It was crispy hot on the outside and so light and eggy inside. Since we only live a few blocks from Leonard's, it always arrived at home still steaming. That's the only proper was of eating malassadas! ...and don't forget the ring of sugar around your lips...

                  1. re: Clinton

                    It's those crunchy nibs that do it for me. I always eat those first! I think it's about time for Mom to whip up a batch!

                  2. re: foodnmusic

                    I ate a Nata malasada yesterday, purchased for me by the now former owner of the Tex Drive-In in Honoka'a on the Big Island, and Nata's taste like a jelly donut without the jelly.
                    Just truly boring after one bite. No egginess nor texture.

                    1. re: carter

                      At home last night I had a couple of two-day-old natas from Euro Cafe in Claremont -- one custard and one coconut. They were a little stale but still very tasty with strong coffee. Fresh, they're eggy and tender.

                      Euro Cafe
                      546 E Baseline Rd, Claremont, CA 91711

                      1. re: carter

                        Wait, Carter, does that mean the former owner of Tex's Drive-In lives here in SoCal? Any chance of convincing him or her to open up a place here on the mainland?

                        1. re: Hobsons Choice

                          Think Las Vegas for the moment!
                          She used to live here, moved to the big island, and is now moving to Vegas.
                          More info as the situation unfolds. LA is on the horizon, yet not #1.

                    2. I am surprised that there are not more recent posts about the food at Natas. After having read about it here and elsewhere for a long time, we finally found ourselves in the Valley at lunchtime and decided the check it out. Until I looked at their website I was expecting a bakery with a little bit of food but the menu is much more extensive than that. We had sopa de pedra (vegetable soup, simple and outstanding), bacalhao imperial (salt cod and shrimp with vegetables in a creamy sauce--delicious but very rich and a huge portion), steamed clams in a lemon-wine sauce (very very good) and a shrimp salad (not bad, but less outstanding than the others).

                      We were utterly stuffed but had to try the malasadas anyway. As others have mentioned, they're fine, but don't expect anything celestial like what you get at Leonards. Honestly I preferred the queijada. I want to go back, though.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: PayOrPlay

                        I went a few weeks ago for lunch. I ordered the bola de berlin (which was basically a malasada filled with custard and covered in sugar). It was delicious! I imagine that without the custard it would be extremely boring but the custard and sugary outside made it very tasty. :) Next time try that!

                        I also tried the caldo verde (not good!)
                        octopus salad (full of onions and peppers and not enough octopus, but good flavor)
                        bacalhau con natas (salt cod with potatoes, onions, and cream. delicious but way too rich for my taste)
                        and the natas pastry! delicious! not sure why someone would order a malasada when they could have a nata. :)

                        1. re: junglekitte

                          I can be a carb junkie - a big ball of fried dough can set me off to heaven just like a sweet custard-filled one can.