Bakeries are my weakness.
Whenever I travel anywhere — New York City, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Issaquah — I need to find a bakery. I love everything that’s sold there, from French baguettes to red velvet cupcakes to mini banana puddings.
So when I drove down 12th Avenue in Kaimuki a month ago and noticed a sign that read, “Chocolate+Vanilla Bakery” on it, it quickly went on my must-do-immediately list.
And in just a couple of weeks, I’ve already been there at least four times.
The bakery opened about two months ago by two sisters, Jayna Matsukawa and Jill Yamashita. The menu isn’t huge — just cupcakes, macarons, brownies, panna cotta, bread pudding, cookies and crème brûlée. Oh, and the sisters also offer coffee jelly drinks, which, you know, sealed the deal for me.
The name? It’s easy, Matsukawa says: “Jill likes chocolate and I like vanilla.”
Yamashita, who went to Le Cordon Bleu in Portland and worked at the Grand Wailea on Maui and at all of the Roy’s Restaurants on Oahu, had always wanted to open her own boulangerie. But when she figured out that would be too time-consuming and costly, she decided on a cupcake shop instead.
Matsukawa, who handles the business side of the bakery, doesn’t have the same formal culinary training as her sister, but she grew up baking and cooking in her home kitchen. (Their parents own Carval Cafe in Restaurant Row.)
“I remember my mother baking all the time when we were young,” she says, “so it was natural to take interest in it.”
Some may wonder why another bakery would open here on 12th Avenue, right next to Sconees Bakery and down from Otto Cake. But the sisters actually like the location.
“Actually, we didn’t mind because we knew we were going to sell totally different items and our bakery concept was different,” Matsukawa says. “I think we co-exist fine and complement each other.”
The bakery may offer a small menu but change the flavors daily. Check this out: the other day the bakery had red velvet cupcakes filled with haupia, chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes, Mexican chocolate and French toast macarons and blueberry-lemon cream cheese bread pudding with creme anglaise
One of my favorite things sold here, though, is a plastic container of end pieces of the bakery’s decadent fudgy brownies (above). And it’s just $5.
Soon, you might see the sisters’ tasty creations in a cafe in downtown. But right now, they’re just focusing on offering their customers — and rabid fans like me — a nice selection of perfectly crafted cupcakes, macarons and other baked goods.
Now if only they had tables and free WiFi…
Chocolate+Vanilla Bakery, 1115 12th Ave. in Kaimuki. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday. Phone: 808-737-2462. Follow them on Instagram @chocolateandvanilla808.