European-Style Bakery Utilizes Fresh, Local Ingredients

Digest Foodie Fare

June 9, 2012

Story By: Dining Out Team |

With the summer months now under way, what better way to start a relaxing summer morning than by leisurely indulging in pastries? Located in Manoa — and filled with a tantalizing display of elegantly crafted desserts, pastries, pizzas and sandwiches — Fendu Boulangerie has the perfect treat for breakfast, lunch or a midday snack.

Owner and chef Niel Koep explains that Fendu Boulangerie features European-style pastries, as well as American-inspired dishes that are created in European fashion.

“Our roots are French, but we have a lot of things that are American also,” he explains. While certain items such as Lemon Meringue Pie ($5.25), Carrot Cake ($4.25) and Pumpkin Bread ($4.75 for small; $8.75 for medium; $12.75 for large) are distinctly American fare, Fendu makes them in the European-style tradition. Then, of course, there are French items, such as the wide selection of various baguettes, including French Sourdough Baguette ($5.25 for regular; $3.50 for petit).

“I have always enjoyed European-style (baking),” Koep says. “There’s less sugar in it, and the items get baked fresh every day. It is not loaded with artificial ingredients.”

This style of baking is not common here in the Islands, and perhaps that originality is one thing that has been driving the customers to Manoa Marketplace in droves.

“People come here when they want something that they cannot get anywhere else,” Koep says, adding that all of the bakery’s menu items are popular.

“As far as the breakfast pastries go, the Chocolate Croissant ($2.25) is the king (in amount sold) … And the Lychee Streusel Danish ($2.15) is very popular,” he says, before adding that, in fact, the Apple Danish ($2.25) and Blueberry Danish ($2.15) sell equally well.

And for those of you who can’t seem to get your Fendu fix with only one meal, Fendu Boulangerie has tasty lunch options, too. Lunch menu items include Basil Pesto Chicken Panini ($8.50), which features chicken tenderloins sauteed with Hawaiian salt and black pepper, grilled on rustic bread with bacon, mayonnaise, tomato, shallots and goat cheese, and Hamakua Farms Mushroom Mania ($18.25 for 14-inch and $11.25 for 8-inch), which includes alii, oyster, shimeji and shiitake mushrooms with cracked blacked pepper.

Desserts include Lilikoi Cheesecake ($4.50) and Lychee Caramel Flan ($4.50).

With everything made in the European-style of baking, Fendu Boulangerie offers customers fresh, natural ingredients — many of which are locally sourced.

“It is an all-natural bakery,” Koep says.

“We bake all of our own doughs, and we use raw, fresh ingredients — flour, butter, sugar, eggs, milk. We add no chemicals to anything that we do … Whenever possible, we get things that are from Hawaii,” Koep says. “Like the mushrooms that we use on our pizza and sandwiches are from the Hamakua Farm on the Big Island. We source a fresh, local tomato. Our Japanese eggplant that we use also is local.”

And on top of all of that, everything at Fendu Boulangerie is baked fresh. All of the bread and baked goods are made fresh each day, and all of the pizzas and paninis are made-to-order.

On the Side

The European-style treats at Fendu Boulangerie have had a long journey to get to the Islands. Founder Niel Koep — who serves as chef and owner — has been cultivating his craft throughout much of his life.

“I started as a kid working in food service when I was 15 years old,” he explains. “I was a floor sweeper in a seafood restaurant in New Jersey.”

From there, he worked in a number of fine-dining restaurants throughout the East Coast, including well-known establishments such as Fromagerie. During those days, Koep never stopped aiming to perfect his baking skills — taking classes and studying under master chefs. One day, Koep asked one of his mentors for advice on what his next move should be.

When the chef suggested that Koep should work in a hotel in Hawaii, Koep jumped at the idea.

“Two weeks later I was in Hawaii,” he says. “When the plane landed on Lanai, I knew it was going to be an amazing experience.” Koep spent the next 18 years as the executive pastry chef at Four Seasons Resorts Lanai, but he always wanted to start his own bakery — something he had wanted to do since he was 17.

“When I looked around Hawaii, I saw a lot of the same type of baked goods and felt that if we did something a little bit differently, that it might be an attraction for the customers.”

Three years ago, Koep realized his lifelong dream when he opened Fendu Boulangerie.

Although Fendu’s treats are already delectable, the chefs are constantly on a mission to create perfect pastries.

“There is always trial and error involved,” he says. “I don’t think we have ever had one item that we made and then the first time said, ‘that’s it.’ It is always something we work on.”

Fendu Boulangerie

  • Where
    • Manoa Marketplace
    • 2752 Woodlawn Drive #5119
    • Honolulu, HI 96822
  • Call
    • (808) 988-4310
  • Hours
    • 7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Tuesday – Saturday
    • 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
    • Sundays
    • Closed Mondays