And the only thing that stuck was the name, “King’s Bakery.”
His grandfather was the brother of Robert Taira, who founded the popular — and still missed — Robert’s Bakery in Hilo on the Big Island. Like the rest of the family, Derek’s dad worked in the bakery, too, until he left Hawaii for college, then moved to Kona to work as a teacher.
Derek didn’t grow up like his cousins, working at what was later called King’s Bakery. (Robert had had moved his shop to Honolulu on King Street.) But he did have fond memories of visiting the bakery when his family was in town, seeing his Uncle Robert at work there, and eating ice-box cookies and custard-filled eclairs.
Production of the bakery’s popular sweet breads moved to California in 1977. And King’s Hawaiian Bakery, as it’s called now, opened a full-service bakery and restaurant in Torrance, Calif. in 1988. Four years later, the King Street location closed for good and the entire operation — including the Taira family — moved to Southern California.
The Torrance location took off, serving both locals who had moved to California and folks who loved local-style food. In 2002, it opened its second location, a casual bakery and cafe called The Local Place. It’s in Torrance, too.
And all this time — despite three trips to Southern California since then — I had never been to King’s Bakery. I’ve never even driven by.
Well, that was going to change on this trip to Los Angeles.
I got in touch with Eric Chang, a local boy who moved to California to work for King’s Bakery as its brand manager about 10 years ago. He, along with his wife, Jessica, planned to meet me for lunch on Saturday. I was curious to see the bakery I had often visited when it was open in Honolulu — and I really wanted to try the famous Paradise Cake I had heard. so much about.
I didn’t even eat breakfast that morning.
Here’s what my lunch at King’s Hawaiian Bakery looked like:
King's Hawaiian Bakery
King’s Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant, 2808 Sepulveda Blvd. in Torrance, Calif. Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Phone: (310) 530-0050.
Follow my adventures — with my Mom! — in LA on Twitter @thedailydish and on Instagram @catherinetoth.