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Return to Marujyu Market

Marujyu Market – Laulau, Squid Luau and Lomi Salmon plate #14, 6.25 plus $1.05 extra to substitute rice with Poi ($7.30 total)

Continuing my quest to find a Laulau that can dethrown the reigning champ at Highway Inn in Waipahu, this past week I decided to sample the Hawaiian grindz at Marujyu Market in Aiea.

Which here we have their #14 Laulau, Squid Luau and Lomi Salmon plate, which runs $6.25 with rice, but of course I ain’t having no freegin’ rice with my Hawaiian food! No, it’s gotta’ be POI my boy! Which costs just $1.05 extra. $7.30 for all that is truly a steal of a deal, especially considering everything except the poi is made in-house.

Whenever you order Hawaiian food and it includes Laulau, always ask if they make their own, or if not, where or what brand they’re using. Very important! I’m not going to name names, but all you “Laulau connoisseurs” (that sounds kinda’ weird) out there know what I’m talkin’ about.

So I was happy to hear Marujyu does in fact make their own Laulau, and as you see, unlike many places, they serve theirs still wrapped in the Ti Leaf. Yay! Ti Leaves impart a unique, well, “Hawaiian flavor” to Kalua Pig and Laulau that would certainly be amiss without it. Some places may skimp (due to lack of availability or whatever) and not use Ti Leaves when steaming their Laulau, resorting to lowly TIN FOIL. Ack! No, no, no! May as well not make it if you don’t have all the right ingrediments, right? Me thinks so.

I also was also happy to hear their Laulau includes Butterfish. Double Yay!

Well, let’s find out if Marujyu’s house-made Laulau tastes as good as it looks. Well, actually Laulau doesn’t have much visual appeal, if any at all, but you know what I’m sayin’. Here it is unwrapped, where you see it’s absolutely HUGE-MANGOUS…

See here how it occupies about two-thirds of the large entree section…

Put your two fists together, and that’s about how big it is, unwrapped!

Let’s open this monster up and and check out what’s “under the hood”…

A chunk of falling-apart pork meat, check. Even bigger pieces (plural) of melting pork fat, check. Pretty good size piece of tender Butterfish, check. A thick layer of tender Luau leaves wrapping it all together, check. So far, so good! Here’s a better look at the (tan-fleshed) Butterfish in it (with the lighter-colored melting pork fat to the left)…

How does it taste? Eh, not bad, but not great either. It just doesn’t have that “IT” factor like Highway Inn’s Laulau had. And I know exactly what was missing, was enough Hawaiian salt put in BEFORE they steamed it. So even though I could add my own Hawaiian salt as I ate it, the salt wasn’t in there from the beginning to melt into the pork, pork fat, butterish and luau leaves. Therefore none of their individual or homogenized flavors stood out. I won’t say it was bland, but not like “Pow! This is broke da’ mout’ winnahz!”. Ya’ know?

Of course with Hawaiian food, Poi makes everything taste right, so let’s try some Butterfish dipped in Poi…

Oh yeah. Sprinkle just a few grains of Hawaiian salt and whack ’em, poi and all… hoooooo da’ buggah’ is winnahz!

Wait, you said “dip” the butterfish in the poi? Well, yes, as Marujyu thins their poi down with water quite a bit…

Not that bad though. It still had some body. Not like where it was “Poi Soup”. It was very fresh as well, tasting like it came from the factory that day, or at the most just 1 day old.

Summing up Marujyu’s Laulau, I give it 3 SPAM Musubi. A better hand with the Hawaiian salt in the Laulau making process and this just may have been a 5.

Now let’s check out da’ Squid Luau…

Buggah’ look “tick” (thick) eh? It is. Check ’em out…

Notice how it stays put on my spoon, even as the spoon is tilted at a 45 degree angle. Impressive!

How does it taste? Excellent flavor without being overpowered with Coconut milk. The only problem? Like Kanak Attack, Marujyu’s Squid Luau is TOO SWEET. Not as bad as Kanak Attack’s was, but still, more so than I’d prefer. I dunno’, maybe some folks like it tasting that way, but not me. I think Squid Luau should taste more savory and earthy, not sweet like that.

Speaking of savory, there’s certainly a generous amount of chopped Tako (Octopus; not Squid!) in it..

Why do they call it “Squid Luau” anyway, when it’s usually (at least if done right) made with Octopus (Tako)? From now I’m going to start calling it He’e Luau or Tako Luau. Actually, I think “Tako Luau” sounds better.

Remember this one?…

Anyhow, regardless of it being more sweet than I would have preferred, the thick consistency and overall flavor of Marujyu’s, ehem, TAKO LUAU was very good, which I’ll give it 3 SPAM Musubi.

Moving on with this “obsession”, let’s check out Marujyu’s Lomi Salmon…

Wow, you heard of “Lomi Tomato” right? Da’ kine where get mostly tomato with only scarce (if any) bits of salt salmon in it. Well this is the polar opposite of that, where it’s mostly salt salmon and only scarce bits of tomato in it! Ou-right!

Actually it was little too much salmon and not enough white and green onion it. Still, at least the very pink-colored and tender salt salmon was rinsed properly, so it wasn’t too salty. Was jusssssss’ right (like Rap’s “Aunty Marialani” would say).

Summing it up, I give Marujyu’s Lomi Salmon Salmon (yeah I said it twice, because that’s how much get “inside”) 4 SPAM Musubi. Winnahz!

And that wraps up this indepth look and tasting analysis of Marujyu’s Hawaiian plate #14.

Next we have Diner E’s choice, where he was very disappointed they didn’t they didn’t have Maki Kombu (they were supposed to according to their website) and Turkey Tails for the day, which are his favorite Marujyu items. So instead he went with their Pastele and Gandule Rice plate…

Marujyu Market – Pastele, Gandule Rice and Mac Salad plate, $5.95

Just as I admire Marujyu for serving their Laulau wrapped in Ti Leaf, I appreciate that they serve their Pastele wrapped up in Banana Leaf…

Unwrapping the banana leaf from the pastele, you see the masa is filled with big chunks of tender pork…

The pork doesn’t stop there, as there’s also a generous helping of sliced pork in the Gandule Rice as well…

Even though their Mac’ Sal’ has the dreaded green peas in it, Diner E still gave it a thumbs-up…

Summing up his entire Puerto Rican plate, Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E gives it a very solid 3 SPAM Musubi.

Finally, Diner C chose a Baked Mahimahi mini plate…

Marujyu Market – Baked Mahimahi mini plate with 1 scoop brown rice and tossed green salad with ranch dressing, $4.25

The Mahimahi was coated with mayonnaise that tasted like it was seasoned paprika, salt and pepper. She thought the flavor was OK, but not what she was expecting, which was more like a lemon caper butter sauce kinda’ deal. Summing it up, she gave it 2 SPAM Musubi.

I also picked a bag of their boiled peanuts to try out…

Marujyu Market – Boiled Peanuts, $2.50

While these can’t touch Alicia’s superior flavored larger sized Virginia boiled peanuts, they’re still pretty decent…

Nice and “juicy” inside, just how I like’ ’em. A hint of sweet and star anise in the flavor, yet I think it could have used just a little more salt. Otherwise, very good. 3 SPAM Musubi.

Marujyu Market is a lot like Alicia’s Market in Kalihi Kai and Masa & Joyce in Kaneohe: a place where you can get ANYKINE local grinds under one roof: Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Japanese, Puerto Rican, to classic American comfort foods such as meatloaf and fried  chicken. Plus a wide variety of fresh poke and other ethnic specialty foods. There’s no place to sit and eat, so this place is strictly takeout. They also do catering.

Certainly something for just about everyone at Marujyu Market.

Marujyu Market
98-820 Moanalua Road (in the Newtown Business Park)
Aiea, Hawaii, 96701
(808) 487-0057
website: MarujyuMarket.com

The Tasty Island rating:

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

Related Links:
Aiea Eats: Marujyu Market – The Tasty Island

9 thoughts on “Return to Marujyu Market

  • April 2, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Haha, I had to laugh at the “Tako bell” image. That’s a classic! Didn’t know what I was going to have for dinner, but now I think I’ll run out and get some lau lau :)

  • April 2, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Pomai, good read with the return to Marujyu Market. I remember them when they were at their former location in Waimalu. You’re right….there’s something about squid luau that can turn you off if there’s a hint of sweetness in it.

  • April 2, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Thanks for keeping the laulau info coming. I’ll be in Oahu for the Spam Jam, and laulau is definitely on my list of things to eat.

    “…the dreaded green peas.” LOL!

  • April 3, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Norio, you know ‘dat! Grean peas usually ruins it!

    Two words about Laulau:  Highway Inn. One place: Waipahu.

    Paki, glad to hear it’s not just me who’s turned off by Squid (Tako) Luau that’s too sweet. Might as well make “Squid Luau Ice Cream”. Doesn’t that sound delicious? NOT!

    Dale, I had fun designing that one. I hope Taco Bell doesn’t mind.

    • October 17, 2012 at 6:11 am


      Mahalo, and yes, I’ve become very much aware of that KGMB HawaiiNewsNow.com news story, as my site hit stats shot through the ROOF soon after it broke.

      Interestingly, of all the photos of a “Hawaiian Plate Lunch”, they should choose the one I took from of all places, Marujyu Market. I don’t think Michelle Obama has ever been in Aiea, let alone Marujyu Market. Now if this were from Helena’s, or perhaps somewhere in Kailua where they stay every Christmas, OK, sure. Go figure.

      I’ll do a story on this in my next, next post, as I have some “choice words” to say. He he.

  • January 19, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I love the fact that you give the proper details and descriptions to what a real island local would look for in these individual dishes.. Very precise taste buds. Right on ma bradda freakin hillarious too. AArriighht!

      • January 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

        Unreal doze guyz. They raddah eat wit dea eyez and not they’re mouths. Sounds to me like a bunch of bitter republicans who eat cheese and crackah’z with bread. They have no idea about the real things we have here.. That was actually a really good pic too, btw Alohaz


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