Aiea Eats: Aiea Manapua & Snacks

‘Tis the season for giving and sharing, and when it comes to local ‘kine grinds, Manapua is always a popular choice. Case in point the other day when Diner A graced our holiday tummies with some Dim Sum yum-yums from Aiea Manapua and Snacks.

This was the first time he’s been here at this Aiea eatery, and a first for me as well trying the place, as being “townies”, most of the Manapua that comes our way is usually sourced from either Libby’s, Char Hung Sut or Chun Wah Kam, with a few other “Chinatownies” thrown into the mix.

Being a “newb” at the place, Diner A put his faith on the server, asking her which selections were the most popular with the regulars, to which he walked out the door with this box of Baked (not steamed) Charsiu and Pizza-filled Manapua…

Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Baked Charsiu Manapua, Baked Pizza Manapua and Baked Spicy Sausage Manapua

The (two) elongated “Manapua” at the bottom are Spicy Sausage, which I’ll go into detail later.

Where there’s Manapua, there must be Pork Hash…

Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Pork Hash, 69 cents each.

And its fried cousin, Crispy Gaugee (with Coleman’s Mustard and Shoyu dipping sauce on the side of course)…

Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Crispy Gau Gee, 69 cents each

Adding a little Japanese influence to the party, we have these Stuffed Mushroom and Eggplant Pork Hash Tempura-battered Dumplings…

Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Stuffed Mushroom (with Pork Hash) Tempura and Stuffed Eggplant (with Pork Hash) Tempura, 99 cents each

Finally, we have this generous plate of Chow Mein and Chow Funn noodles…

Aiea Manapua and Snacks – Chow Mein and Chow Funn noodles, $2.69/serving

Let’s take a closer look and have a taste of some of this stuff, starting with the most unusual of them all, the Spicy Sausage Baked Manapua…

Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Baked Spicy Sausage Manapua, $1.29 each

Looks like a regular ‘ole “Pig-in-a-Blanket” to me. Upon tasting it though, they weren’t kidding when they said “Spicy”. This buggah’ is a SCORCHER! So much that you can readily see flecks of Chili Peppers riddled within the meat of the sausage…

A little too hot in all our opinions, yet then again, you may like it more than we did if you’re into “kickers” like that. Other than the notably-lofty Scoville factor, it tasted essentially, as stated earlier, like a pig-in-a-blanket, and a quite standard one at that, earning this an overall 1 SPAM Musubi (average).

Moving on to the next most unusual item, we have this here Pizza Baked Manapua, which was easy to identify by the red ‘P’ stamp…

Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Baked Pizza Manapua, $1.29 each

Let’s have a look inside…

Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Baked Pizza Manapua

Aaahhhh….oooohhhh…ahhhhhh. Gotta’ say, it looks like a Chinese version of a ‘Pizza Pocket’. And you know what? That’s pretty much what it tasted like. Like a ‘Pizza Pocket’. The filling is essentially diced Pepperoni mixed with Marinara and a little cheese. I think it could have used more stuff though. Like oh, say, MORE CHEESE, Olives, Mushrooms and Bell Peppers. Well anyway, those are my favorite topping add-ons. While this is probably popular with the younger crowd, for me, while glad I tried it, I’ll stick with the more traditional Charsiu filling. With that, I’ll give the Pizza Baked Manapua 1 SPAM Musubi.

Speaking of which, here we have their Charsiu Baked Manapua…

Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Baked Charsiu Manapua, $1.29 each

One thing noticeable about their baked Manapua is that you can tell they were all interconnected at four corners while being baked, which gives them a dinner roll-like appearance with the exposed white ends.

Let’s look inside this one…

Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Baked Charsiu Manapua

Hey… hEY… HEY!!!! What the heck? What is this, Libby’s? Wassup with the rather lacking Charsiu-to-Bun ratio here? You might recall a post I did titled ‘Manapua Buns‘, when on that occasion, Libby’s “C-to-B Ratio” was just like this. Brah, talk about “Pake” (a local slang word for “stingy”). lol

Aside of that, Aiea’s Baked Charsiu Manapua  is really ono, with solid chunks (not shreds) of moist and tender (fatty) pork saturated completely with a delicious sweet-meets-savory Charsiu marinade. Most importantly, the baked bun is soft and supple inside, while being slightly glutenous, but not too much, while the baked crust offers an ever-so-slight hint of salty-sweet to the whole party for complete balance. Put in a little more Charsiu filling and I’d give it 4 SPAM Musubi. As is, 3.

Now let’s sample da’ Pork Hash…

Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Pork Hash

Not bad. There’s a distinguishable helping of diced waterchestnut and sliced green onion in it. I think it could use a little more sweetening or seasoning though, as eaten aline, I found it slightly bland. Of course the mustard and shoyu sauce solved that minor issue, yet still, gotta’ note that. Libby’s and Char Hung Sut’s Pork Hash is better, but these work, where I’ll give it does-the-job 2 SPAM Musubi.

The Crispy Gau Gee were one of the most generously-filled ones with pork I’ve had yet, and were quite tasty thanks to them being deep-fried. For those, they get a very solid 4 SPAM Musubi.

Now let’s sample the Stuffed Mushroom with Pork Hash Tempura…

Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Stuffed Mushroom (with Pork Hash) Tempura

Yummy. Very, very good. Mushrooms and meat are always a great combination, and this one did not disappoint. The “tempura” batter almost had an Andagi-like quality to it, being kinda’ glutenous and airy, yet golden crispy. While the pork hash with filling was a bit more mushy (in a good way) than the regular pork hash. There was just one whole button mushroom in it, which is why I suppose they say it’s “stuffed”. I didn’t try the eggplant version, but I can imagine it would have tasted quite similar, albeit probably not as savory as the mushroom version. Rounding it up, I give this a very solid 3 SPAM Musubi, possibly 4 if I had it piping hot and fresh immediately after they deep-fried it.

The Chow Mein was your typical dry type of take-out Chinese noodles, and nothing work writing about, which they’ll get 1. Now the Chow Funn was something, with big-honkin’ wide noodles that was more Lasagna than Chow Funn. It was cooked perfectly al dente and flavored quite nicely, along with a generous amount of cabbage mixed in with it, which I love. For that I give their Chow Funn another very solid 3 SPAM Musubi.

Here’s some iPhone pics Diner A took of the menu boards, where you gotta’ dig the artwork on the header…

Notice the classic roving “Manapua Man” with the straw hat and bamboo pole supporting two tins full of steaming-hot dim sum. That’s how it was done “old school” my friends! After that, the “Manapua Man” evolved to often run-down white vans, where they sold everything else besides Chinese Dim Sum, from ice cream, to candy to toys. Now the most successful ones have brick and mortar restaurants, as is the case here.

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Just wanna’ say “big mahalo” to Diner A for the ono Holiday Season Manapua grindz!

Aiea Manapua & Snacks
Aiea Village Square
99-149 Moanalua Road
Aiea, Hawaii  96701

Tel. 488-7443

Business Hours:
Monday – Friday 5am to 3pm
Saturday 6am to 2pm
Sunday 8am to 2pm

Menu (<—download current 12.09 version PDF document at that link)

The Tasty Island rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

Related links:
Aiea Manapua & Snacks – Yelp user reviews
Manapua Wars – Metromix (Honolulu Advertiser)

P.S. ‘Tis also the season to…

Ani’s Bakery – Raspberry Wreath

…get BOMBARDED with sweets, treats, and all the other good things to eat that go hand-in-hand with the holidays. Wherever you work or socialize, surely you know what I’m talking about here. That’s why we all know the term and concept of “diet” is virtually non-existent between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Eve.

Take for instance this massive bear claw-like pastry from Ani’s Bakery called a ‘Raspberry Wreath’ that was gifted to us a few days ago. It’s almost as big in diameter as a large Pizza Hut Pizza. Looks very festive with the cherries and bow. Here you see there’s Raspberry filling on the inside of this doughnut-meets-cake type of pastry…

Pretty good. Tastes best if you heat it up in the toaster oven. While I don’t drink coffee anymore, this would probably be great with that.

On another recent day, our security guy brought us this beautiful Pumpkin Roll that his wife made….

Pumpkin Roll

It has the texture of a super-moist banana or mango bread, except of course it tastes like pumpkin pie. The filling is a sweetened cream cheese, so you know that’s bringing plenty of cheer to the party. Really, really good.

Then on ANOTHER recent day, as he does every year, one of our vendors brought us Sunny Side Bakery pies

Sunny Side Bakery – Apple Pie

Sunny Side Bakery – Chocolate Cream Pie

Sunny Side Bakery – Blueberry Cream Pie

Can’t go wrong with Sunny Side pies. Always a winner.

Finally, while nobody knew the exact name of this dessert, it’s essentially a pie made with an Ambrosia-like filling and sweet Cherry topping…

OMG… Good Lord was this GOOD! It kinda’ tastes like cheesecake, except having a make-up more like Ambrosia (which uses Marshmallows), it’s lighter and more fluffy. All I know is it’s supah’ ono! Solid 4 SPAM Musubi. If the crust was more crunchy and had nuts in it, it woulda’ been a 5.

That’s just a few of the many delights threatening my waistline once again this holiday season, yet for the most part worth every bite. There’s also been boxes upon baskets of various pastries, cookies and candies, which at some point, the “resist temptation” light turns on in my head and I attempt to try telling myself to look the other way. Just look away. Look away.

NOOOOOO! I gotta’ have one o’ those! lol


11 thoughts on “Aiea Eats: Aiea Manapua & Snacks

  1. Pomai, love the manapua man logo very much. Glad to live on Oahu where we can get manapua and dim sum every where. I still like mai tai soo from Char Hung Suet which not many places make it. When visiting other islands family said Oahu got it good.

  2. Kelike, Okihwn is also a fan of Char Hung Sut’s Ma Tai Soo. I gotta’ try that. It’s true, Manapua from Oahu is a very popular omiyage item that folks on the neighbor islands bring back with them. My sister used to take frozen Char Hung Sut manapua all the way back to Missouri.
    Nate, yeah, had choke filling in those crispy gau gee. Most I’ve seen yet. Contrary to that, the charsiu in the manapua was kinda’ “pake”. lol
    Kat, and everyone else, Mele Kalikimaka! Have a safe and joyous Christmas. 🙂

  3. Nate, our generation, we also used to say “chink”, but “pake” was more common. Another local slang for “stingy” was “manju”. “Eh brah, no ack’ manju”. You know, because manju are typically small.

  4. Pomai if I head out to get manapua and dim sum got to pick ma tai soo also. Char Hung Suet is the place for sure. No other places make it.

  5. Hi, can you tell me where you bought the ambrosia cheesecake or find the recipe for it? It looks so good that I must have a try!! : )

    I love reading your blog. Thanks for the hard work!

    Mele Kalikimaka!


  6. Liz, I’ll have to ask the person who made it. Will get back to you on that when/if I get the recipe.
    B-T-W, being Ambrosia-based, it’s not made with cream cheese, but it’s still pretty rich ‘n super delicious.
    Happy holidays!

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