Sam Sato’s Manju

Usually when my girlfriend’s mom flies in from Maui, she brings either fresh-baked Butter Rolls from Komoda Bakery in Makawao or Manju from Home Maid Bakery in Kahului. Today however was an exception, where she brought us Manju from Sam Sato’s in Wailuku, famous for their deconstructed Saimin called Dry Noodle, a.k.a. “Dry Mein”.

She claims since the original owner/operators of Home Maid Bakery have retired, their Manju have gone downhill, therefore she prefers Sam Sato’s over them now.

So let’s check it out…

And how is it?

Well, the last time I had Manju, was from Lawai Manju from Menehune Food Mart in Kalaheo, Kauai. Where compared to that STELLAR example, which had a more rich, golden flaky crust, Sam Sato’s Manju is pretty much more like a basic pie crust, sans that desirable flaky exterior texture. More like a turnover crust, sans the sugar glaze if you will. In fact, Sam Sato’s also sells a variety of turnovers, which I have yet to try.

Sam Sato’s Azuki Bean filling is noticeably more dry and loose compared to Lawai’s Manju filling which was more dense and sticky, so as you eat it, some of the filling crumbles off with Sam Sato’s Manju.

No question if I were to try them side-by-side in a blind taste test, Kauai’s Lawai Manju would INSTANTLY be chosen as the clear winner.

As it stands, I give Sam Sato’s Manju 2 SPAM Musubi, which is “Good”. Of course, take into consideration as I’ve mentioned before, personally I’m not a big Manju or Azuki Bean fan, so your opinion likely will differ if you’re into the stuff.

As always, big mahalos to “Maui Mom” for da’ Valley Isle omiyage grindz! Now she’s on her way to the mainland bringing some Omiyage from Oahu in the form of Baked Manapua and other dim sum goodies from Chun Wah Kam. Always a hit with the ohana living up there.

What? Sam Sato’s Manju
Where did you get it and how much did it cost? Sam Sato’s in Wailuku, Maui. 75 cents each (c/o Omiyage from “Maui Mom”)
Big Shaka to: Consistent shape and baked doneness. Tasty Azuki bean filling and golden-brown crust. Omiyage from “Maui Mom”.
No Shaka to: Texture-wise, the Azuki bean filling is too dry and loose. Crust lacks flaky texture as well, while inside part of it tastes rather “doughy” in comparison to others.
The Tasty Island rating: 2 SPAM Musubi


Sam Sato’s Manju — 21 Comments

  1. Glad to see you posting again. Was going through some withdrawals. Not really a fan of manju but enjoyed the post. Just booked a trip to come back home in November. Cant wait to try some of the places you featured not to mention catching the Warriors play Boise State. Havent been back in three years and havent tailgated at Aloha stadium in over ten.

  2. I am also glad to see you back. I am also glad that you received manju versus donuts.

    I also like my azuki paste dense and sticky. What you described as ‘too dry and loose’ is what I call ‘beany’.

    The ultimate test is if you can drive and eat it without parts of it ending up in your lap.

  3. I too have never been much of a manju fan, although my wife loves it-especially the mochi ones as opposed to the baked ones. But we both love the cream puffs from Komoda Bakery in Makawao. Of course, we have not had them for over 20 years so the cream puffs might have changed by now.

    • I’m curious how much economic impact Krispy Kreme has on the local mom ‘n pop bakeries on Maui. Oddly, Oahu has never gotten a Krispy Kreme.

      I’ll take Kamehameha Bakery over KK any day.

      • We live in Phoenix and my wife is a baked goods freak. But there are absolutely zero good bakeries here, and this includes the high end hotels too. It is because of the bad water and the extremely low humidity. So we actually have to go to LA to get bakery items for my wife.

      • As far as I can tell, the Krispy Kreme shop here hasn’t had much of an impact on the local mom and pop shops. Most of the time when I pass Krispy Kreme, it looks empty. I myself, have only gone there a couple of times. There have been a couple of bakeries that have closed but some that have been here before Krispy Kreme include Komoda (of course), Home Maid, Stillwell’s, Maui Bake Shop, Broke Da Mouth, Four Sisters, etc.

  4. Pomai- I prefer the lima (white) bean manju from Sam Sato’s but I like them more than HomeMaid because HomeMaid is too flaky, buttery for me. I love the coconut and apple turnovers. Tell your g/f mom next time ask for a Large Dry Mein Take-Out. I did that! Went and ate a large dry-mein at the counter and took home to Oahu a take out. They pack it on the yellow styrofoam container and wrap with plastic. Easy to transport and the plane!

    • I prefer the white lima bean manju as well and that’s what we take for omiyage when we go off-island. I like the coconut turnovers as well. I might be biased because I work right down the street from them. =)

  5. Pomai, I always thought manju was Japanese steam bun. Those with bean I never tasted . I had eaten some made by friends with fruits and some with peanut butter and chocolate. and coconuts.

  6. My friend used to make manju similar to this. I liked it a lot. Not really sweet, but not entirely savory, either.

  7. Pomai, All this time I traveled never knew of Hawaiian Air lounge inside the airport. It for first and business class passengers and club card members. They got wireless, free buffet and snacks, drinks, tvs ect. So people could eat up before boarding plane or rest up. Hawaiian have one lounge in many islands airports. Check web on Hawaiian Air Lounges.

  8. Pomai, you gotta try the chocolate truffle mochi and chocolate/peanut butter mochi from Maui Specialty Chocolates. I don’t care for mochi much, but my wife absolutely loves it. All of my Honolulu friends get some to take home as well so it must be good.

  9. I second the recommendation of chocolate mochi from Maui Specialty Chocolates. My mom takes them to Honolulu every time she comes to visit.

    As for manju, I am not a fan of the Lawai one; it’s too greasy for me. I think the Sam Sato’s one tastes “healthy,” but in a good way. I like Home Maid too; that one is my husband’s favorite.

  10. Next time the Maui folks fly over (or I fly there), I’ll keep Maui Specialty Chocolates’ Manju in mind. Like Lawai’s Manju, I’m always open to that “Magic Manju Moment”. Thanks for the tip!

    • I agree with the Maui Specialty Chocolate recommendations. They’re the traditional sticky mochi, not baked manju. I prefer the chocolate/peanut butter mochi over the chocolate truffle mochi, since there is more of a contrasting taste between the chocolate and peanut butter. It would be better to also order ahead of time instead of taking a chance that they’ll still have some left for sale, as I’ve gone there and they’ve been sold out.

      There’s also a small okazuya style shop a few doors down from Maui Specialty Chocolates named Oyako Tei. We don’t have many okazuya shops like you do on Oahu, so it probably can’t compare to what you’re used to but it works for us!

  11. Hey Pomai! May I suggest that you include Frostcity in one of your future reviews? It’s a fairly new place that serves Taiwanese snow ice. You won’t be disappointed. :)

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