Tuesday, August 30, 2005

$40 in Oahu #2 - Breakfast

I got so into the Cheap Eats during my Hawaiian vacation that I stored up enough material for TWO full $40 days. Although I only got around to sharing one day the Sam's follow-up post, I figured I'd report the second day anyway. Since I'm not posting as a part of Sam's meme, I'm splitting this into Breakfast&Snack, Lunch&Snack, and Dinner posts! And yes, as you might have noticed, there's a snack associated with both Breakfast and Lunch for us hungry tourists!

Although not a traditional breakfast item in the Western culture (or in Japan, actually), steamed buns are my FAAAAAVORITE breakfast items. I love the ones with meatballs in them rather than the sweet pork (char siu), because the salty pork meat balls highlight the contrast between the sweet bun and the meat, providing a wonderful harmony of flavors - the sweet pork in sweet buns can seem a little too much sweetness for a not-so-sweet girl like me.

Known in Hawaii as manapua, the buns at Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory are luscious and plump. Two handfuls. They are the Tara Reids of the bun world, except unlike Tara, these are stuffed full with the real thing.

Being the unprepared gal that I am, I ordered the 'original' manapua, which came stuffed with sweet pork. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, although in retrospect, it seems obvious that the original would contain none other than the traditional sweet pork... The pork, however, wasn't overly sweet or wet with sauce like the buns I've had around here, and the sweetness of the buns was also toned down. This cutting of the obtrusive sugary flavor allowed the natural sweetness of the dough to come out as well as the complex spices in the pork. With each bite, the flavors seemed to enhance as my saliva broke down the food into natural sugar molecules.

The sweet potato manapua was my favorite. It seemed unusual for me to like a sweet treat over a savory treat, but this sweet potato manapua was so full of sweet potato goodness that it wasn't really all that sweet. It had a wonderful sweet potato scent to it that reminded me of those autumn yaki-imo moments. Since the dough was only slightly sweet and very much neutral in flavor, the sweet potato could really come through unobstructed.

And if we have Tara Reid manapuas, we need to follow them up with something more manly...

We headed over to the Kapiolani Community College Farmer's Market after breakfast to check out the local food offerings. I am a big fan of Farmer's Markets and make it a habit to find them and visit them where-ever I am. This one was a relatively small Farmer's Market for Bay Area standards, and I could tell that some of the vendors had that Ferry Bldg Farmer's Market feel of selling goods that "travel well", like salts, jams, and other preserves. Regardless, it was fun to see that the organic movement has definitely set its firm foot on Hawaii as well, and many local, organic farmers had their Asian vegetables and other offerings. Unfortunately, my kitchenette at my hotel was so puny, there was no way I could make anything besides scrambled eggs and pancakes, so we couldn't indulge on the many vegetable offerings.

Instead, we feasted on a hot dog made with the local, grass-fed Kamela Pride beef. This was one tasty hot dog with all the juiciness and firm deliciousness that I can ask for in a hot dog. Each bite was full of meatiness with the outer layer holding on tight until the very last moment when it finally gave out to release its savory juices. With just the right amount of texture and saltiness, this was one hell of a hot dog. Although the bun was lackluster and the trimmings limited to mediocre relish, ketchup, and tepid mustard, the hot dog was full of life and satisfaction that I couldn't ask for a better snack.

Delicious morning. Really.


The Papa Bear said...

Ha ha ha! You've got my kind of humor, Baby Bear. I wish you had contrasted the picture of the fake b.., uh, manapua with a picture of the hot dog in its complete glory, though. :)

エリック said...



mariko said...

YUM, that all looks delicious! I love having bao for breakfast. I have never had a meatball one, though.

umetaro said...

I used to eat a manapua every day from the age of 11 - 13.

I think that's why seeing boobies reminds me of being 12.

Alice said...


Whatever was in that kimchee last night made me giddy, giddy, giddy...






The 'meatball' ones are the ones that are the more traditional 'nikuman' in Japan. It's not really a meatball, but more meatball-like than the char siu ones...

I LOVE buns for breakfast, lunch, snack, and maybe even dinner!


You crack me up! Why between 11-13? Some sort of pre-pubescent obsession with manapuas????

The Papa Bear said...

No, Baby Bear, it's not the kimchi. You've just graduated from The Papa Bear Humor Training Camp.