When it comes to Manapua, several famous Oahu institutions (yes, these are indeed institutions) immediately come to mind: Char Hung Sut, Chun Wah Kam and Libby’s. Of these three, Libby’s is the “back-to-basics” winner, in my opinion.
Libby Manapua Shop – 410 Kalihi St. (just a few blocks mauka of Nimitz Hwy.)
Located in lower Kalihi’s industrial corridor just off of Nimitz, make a turn mauka (towards the mountain) on Kalihi st. and drive a few blocks up. On the ewa corner at address 410 you’ll find one of Oahu’s truly hidden gems.
If you’re a visitor to Oahu, this is the perfect last stop to make on your way to the airport to buy a wonderful fresh food gift for folks back home, or simply to enjoy while you wait for your flight to depart.
Libby’s famous pink box
Don’t be surprised if you find a line coming out the door. A limited amount of parking space is available in back. The entrance is on the street corner. Upon entering, you’ll find a customer counter in a somewhat cramped space with one person doing cashier duty, several ladies taking orders and folks in back quickly serving it up. The full menu board spans the back wall, along with multiple stacks empty pink boxes of various sizes. Behind is a hot mustard dispenser, plastic containers, shoyu packets and napkins to complete your dim sum take-out.
Charsiu Pork Manapua, 1 dozen
Now don’t go looking for baked manapua or fancy fillings at Libby’s . They stick with the basic, yet with that they do it right! Choose either Charsiu Pork, Chicken or Blacksugar in steamed white bun. That’s it. No more, no less. In my opinion, Charsiu Pork is THE Manapua for all others to honor. As you can see in the photo above, that’s ALL I chose for our luncheon on this order. With that, Libby’s Charsiu Pork Manapua is PERFECT. The steamed bun is soft and supple, not soggy, overbaked, or dry. It has just enough pliability to allow the sometimes conservative, sometimes generous Charsiu Pork filling. Speaking of which, the filling has a nice balance of Charsiu flavor, without being too sweet, under/over-powering or “unfamiliar”, as I’ve tasted in others. It’s shredded texture and moisture level is also just right. At 95¢ each, this meal-in-itself is indeed one of Hawaii’s perfect comfort foods.
(clockwise from left) White Rice Cake – 45¢ ea., Halfmoon- 45¢ ea. & Porkhash – 45¢ ea.
Reiterating once again, Libby’s is all about the basics, and with that, my Manapua orders always also include a side of Porkhash, Halfmoon and White Rice Cake. There are a few other items to choose as you’ll see in the menu below, but the selections here are what I’d recommend. To be honest, I could actually just order 2 dozen Porkhash, along with a few containers of mustard and shoyu dipping sauce, wolf that all down and call it a day. I love this stuff! lol. Sometimes we also like to order a side of Chow Fun noodles, which gives the meal a little more body. Otherwise, this dim sum spread works just perfectly.
Gotta’ love their hand-drawn logo… classic
For your convenience, I’ll provide you the full menu here, which is current as of this posting:
Libby Manapua Shop
410 Kalihi St., Honolulu, HI
MENU (all take-out)
Charsiu pork manapua – 95¢
Blacksugar manapua – 90¢
Chicken manapua – $1.00
Porkhash – 45¢
Halfmoon – 45¢
Pepeyau – 45¢
Rice cake (white or brown layered) – 45¢
Cookies (almond or tea) – 50¢
Coconut custard mochi – 75¢
Coconut custard mochi w/ chocolate chips – 80¢
Spring rolls (vegetarian) – 65¢
Spring rolls (shrimp paste w/curry sauce) – 60¢
Pot Stickers – 55¢
Pillows (like a turnover or pocket) – $1.20
-Azuki bean, chicken curry, chicken teriyaki, sesame chicken, hamburger curry, pizza or bbq hamburger
Chow fun, large (quart size) – $3.90
Chow fun, small (pint size) – $2.85
Gon lau mein, large (quart size) – $4.00
– small (pint size) – $2.90