Manapua Buns

Reader “Aline” recently left a comment regarding Libby Manapua Shop, saying that on her visit there just about a week ago, all 4 manapua ordered really lacked charsiu meat filling, being mostly a steamed white bun. So much that she’s discouraged to return.

Well, we just got a box of Manapua and Pork Hash from Libby’s today as a going-away gift of sorts, which is perfect timing, as now I can play “myth buster” and see for myself if this continues to be a “bun” issue there.

Before I dissect each manapua from this current batch for a cross-cut view, take a look once again at the Manapua I got from Libby’s back in December 2006…

Libby’s Manapua (and other dim sum) – December 2006

While not “choke”, very adequate.

Now let’s look at what we have from Libby’s today…

A small box of Manapua and Pork Hash from Libby Manapua Shop, August 2008

All four of the manapua in this box were cut in half for a “Charsiu Check”. Here’s how they look…

Whoah! Where’s the meat?! What is this, a dinner roll? lol

Let’s look at another one…

Wow, Laulau. Eh Uncle, no be Pake! Oh, I forgot, you are Pake. lol

Here’s another one…

That’s not bad. I’m cool with that. Much better than the first two!

And one more…

Getting a little “squeaky” again, especially on the edge there.

So two out of four were very much lacking in charsiu filling. Enough to be a deal-breaker, that’s for sure. You don’t even need that “before” Manapua comparison photo to see their shortcoming.

The other two were acceptable, yet could be better. Also noticeable is the lack of red color of the Charsiu. Although that’s just an appearance thing, I think it’s an important factor in giving Charsiu its character. Notice in the December ’06 Manapua how much more red it is.

The redemption that Libby’s can fall back on is their fantastic bun texture and great flavor of the charsiu; even for what little that’s in there now!

I think Aline is right by basically saying that she’d rather pay a little more and get a Manapua that’s in balance, than to pay less and essentially get a steamed bun with just a “tease” of charsiu in it. Even if that meant breaking the one-dollar price point.

While I was in dissecting mode, I decided to cut a Pork Hash in half to get a closer look at what’s in it…

Looks like just ground pork to me. Isn’t there also supposed to be water chestnuts and green onion in it? Whatever the case, I LOVE their pork hash! Perhaps its simplicity, along with that slightly sweet flavor in the pork is what makes theirs so ono.

Not to single-out Libby’s either, as I remember one order we had from Char Hung Sut, where it was just as lacking. But then another time, it was filled adequately. It must really depend who’s making it in back. Eh, no let da’ Pake ownah in da’ kitchen! lol

The next time you eat a manapua, wherever it’s from, let us know how your Charsiu-to-bun ratio was. Hey, it’s important!

Related Links:
Libby Manapua Shop


15 thoughts on “Manapua Buns

  1. Actually I don’t care at all for both Char Hung Sut or Libby’s. Both have always been on the bottom of my list of places to get dim sum, manapua or whatever you’d like to call it. You’re better off at Chun Wah Kam or Royal Kitchen for fast take out dim sum. Any of the dim sum restaurants are even better.

  2. Your descriptions are so funny!

    2 1/2 out of 4 is very bad. . . no matter how good da bun is, i’ll pass on libby’s until they change their stingy ways. . .

  3. Wow!
    I never had a manapua in years since left Hawaii. My mother use buy from the blue and white checker shirt manapua man who came to Liliha and Punui St. With bak tong gows and other dim sum it was a treats. Those two containers he carried hold so much delights. Last time with the manapua man was HCC campus then no more hearing that bell he rang. I heard Royal Kitchen was not bad but Char Heng Sut recipe is old Hawaiian Chinese style that what I missed. Libby was a bit funky in the 70 when I went there but all have it own things.

  4. Yeah it bad but I guess due cost of many things that business are cutting down on their products. Libby should incress their prices and inform customers why. Betty wrote brought back happy time for me too of manapua man and great she shared it to bloggers. I do remember also Libby stuffed their manapuas well in the 70s boy it was good deal then. I used to get mine at Ting Yin but no more .

    Someone should inform Libby of customers inputs and improve their products now. Sometime owners does not know it till customers inform them. It good for their business and to save it.

  5. Oh my goodness, they really skimped on the filling!

    Hawaiian-style manapua has always leaned toward the bready side of the occasion but you need that balance of salty, fatty pork to pair up against the sweet, dry bun.

    We’re going to be in town in a couple of weeks to visit family. We’re also looking to meet up with other Hawaii foodbloggers. I’ve got a tentative date set for the 19th at Tokkuri-Tei. If you’re available and interested, send me an email via the Contact link on our website,



  6. Ho, brah, somebody went kakaroach da char siu!!!!! I no can belee, such one stark difference. Damn, times is foah realz hahd, yeah?

    Looks like I going bypass Libby’s when I come home in 2 days. My maddah always go to da Chinee place in Chinatown foah get da manapua, half moon, pork hash, and rice cakes – hopefully not da same story, but I go let you know.

    Mahaloz – always enjoy your posts.

  7. Napua heah again. Me, my sistah, and all our keiki went to Char Hung Sut today – da “Chinee” place I referenced in my first post. Got 1 dozen manapua, 1 dozen pork hash, 6 half moon, 9 rice cakes, and 1 dozen of something else that I dunno the name – look like mini manapuas, but brown w/ one red dot in da middo.

    Anyway, da pork hash was soooooooo ‘ono!!! I went stop at da manapua man up da road for get from him to compare da size and taste, HO, NO comparison at all. Da pork hash from CHS was 3 times biggah! And da manapua had planny char siu insai.

    Going post pics on my blog lataz. K, den!

  8. Libby is our favorite! Last visit we returned home with 2 dz. from Libby and 2 dz from Chum wah (sp?) and Libby won! Maybe that’s because we are from the mainland and don’t know any better??? While I am at it, does anybody know who will SHIP to California?

  9. i like Libby’s, to me its all about the bun! and their pork hash is #1

    Chun Wah Kam get plenny meat but bun is so so
    Royal Kitchen baked bun is good

  10. Pingback: Sneak Peek: New Chun Wah Kam in Kapolei « The Tasty Island

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