I didn't even realize Hawaiians specialized in cake until my friend--a restaurant-discovering genius--brought a snowy white sheet with a purple orchid on top to a party. Under a nearly inch-thick layer of barely sweetened whipped cream, itself topped with a thin layer of coconut-milk sauce and dusted with coconut, was the best damn cake I've ever tasted. Under the icing, the cake looked like a simple from-the-box white concoction, but the subtle addition of coconut milk to the icing turned it into a pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth dream.

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This cake came from Kauai Family Restaurant, a Georgetown spot that also serves the more classic Hawaiian fare I'm familiar with--poi, spam-and-egg breakfasts, Hawaiian barbecued pork. I'm sure all of those are great (as evidenced by the Hawaiian families who fill the dining room for dinner), but what I returned for was more cake.

In the back of the restaurant, there's a cooler dedicated to by-the-slice cake, but sadly, the one I'd already tried--the haupia cake ($22 for a 9-inch round)--was sold out for the day (it's popular; the restaurant expanded a few years ago, reportedly to keep up with cake orders). Instead, I tried the mango cake, and the pineapple delight, two variations on the original. The pineapple delight was aptly named, with puréed pineapple whirled into the whipped-cream icing atop a pineapple-tinged cake. The mango cake, however, was coated in a too-sweet, gooey mango sauce that overwhelmed the cake underneath. Next time I'll call ahead to make sure my favorite, the popular haupia, is in stock. recommended

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