CUISINE ON A SHOESTRING
Good, cheap eats found in Manoa Marketplace
By Matthew Gray
Advertiser Restaurant Critic
Island Manapua Factory
- 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays
- 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays
- 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays
Manapua mania is at full throttle here, from the moment the doors open until the last one is sold. I still call these steamed or baked yummies bao, but no matter what you call them, they are a fun and filling treat, originally handed down from China.
Whether you douse yours with a soy sauce and hot mustard combination, pump them up with chile oil, or make them a touch sweet with hoisin sauce, Island Manapua has what you're jonesing for.
Purists will delight in the steamed pork ones (80 cents) and the familiar baked version filled with char siu (barbecued pork) for 90 cents. Oyster-sauce chicken and the curry chicken are popular choices whether steamed (80 cents) or baked (90 cents).
The baked Peking duck ($1.35) and lup cheong (cured Chinese sausage; $1 steamed, $1.10 baked) manapua are the priciest of the lot, but well worth it.
You'll invariably be waiting in line when someone ahead of you asks for pork hash (48 cents), which are spicy and juicy morsels of dim sum. Taro cake (48 cents), spring roll (63 cents), potstickers (65 cents), chop-suey cake (58 cents), crispy won ton (23 cents), and chewy mochi (48 cents) all can be added to your basket of goodies.
If you're in the mood for noodles, many types await. These include saimin ($3.95), won-ton mein ($4.30), chow fun ($5.35 for beef, $5.15 for meatless curry chow fun) and several chow meins; $5.55 for the house special and beef broccoli, $5.60 for shrimp and $5.60 for the beef-stew version.
The dinner menu rounds out the rest of the offerings. Soups such as the creamed corn chicken soup and the egg-flower with pea soup (each $4.95) are forces to be reckoned with.
Dinner choices run the gamut, whether it's poultry, vegetarian, beef, pork or seafood you're hankering for. Spicy eggplant chicken ($5.65), chicken with ginger, orange chicken and roast duck (each $6.10) are fine poultry choices. Two interesting dishes are the unusual beef with sweet-sour cabbage ($5.45) and the stuffed tofu with pork ($5.50).
To satisfy the constant craving of your sweet tooth, the steamed black-sugar manapua (80 cents), custard tart (63 cents), almond cookie (55 cents), tea cake (50 cents) and sesame-peanut candy (50 cents) are good post-savory choices.
- 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
This spot does the plate-lunch thing, but that's not all. Breakfasts, sandwiches, noodles in soup and mixed plates are available as well.
The barbecued chicken ($3.65 for the mini, $5.10 for the regular) is their lead item, charred slightly, hot and flavorful. The chicken katsu and curry chicken katsu ($3.65, $5.10) are crispy and crunchy.
Pork chops, either teriyaki or breaded, come in at $3.90 and $5.45, and are quite satisfying. Local favorites like loco moco and hamburger steak ($3.80, $5.10) fly out of the kitchen, as do beef stew ($3.75, $5.20), the chili-dog plate ($3.65, $5.10), garlic shrimp and curry shrimp (each $4 and $5.80).
The sandwiches here are quite affordable. The teri-pork burger ($1.80) is worth trying, as is the teri-steak burger ($2.15). A mahi sandwich will set you back $2.55, a barbecue cheeseburger only $1.80 and the enjoyable fried-shrimp sandwich $2.55.
The mixed plates here include the hamburger mixed plate ($5.95) with hamburger steak, teri steak and a choice of beef curry stew, beef stew or chili. The price is right. The barbecue mixed plate ($6.05) includes short ribs, barbecued chicken and teriyaki steak. For the high-end folks, there's the New York or prime-rib steak combo plate ($9.55) with fried mahi, shrimp and scallops.
Breakfast is served until 11:30 a.m. and includes choices such as pancakes with syrup and butter or French toast for a measly $2.25. The ham or Spam omelet with rice or hash browns is $3.50, as is the choice of two eggs, any style, with ham, bacon, Spam, link or Portuguese sausage.
Reach Matthew Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.