Manapua is a Hawaiianized name for “pork pastry,” and through the years they’ve gotten bigger and bigger. The fillings also vary–sweet potato, hot dog and, of course, the ubiquitous sweet red roast pork. There are also two schools of manapua: baked or steamed. Until now, Honolulu dominated the manapua craving, with bakeries like Libby’s, Char Hung Sut, Royal Kitchen, Island Manapua Factory and Chun Wah Kam serving the best meaty buns.
Now Maui has its own. It’s called The Manapua Bakery, and it’s located on Main Street in Wailuku, according to a report by Maui Time.
“We worked on our recipe for months,” said Natasha Gould, one of Manapua Bakery’s co-owners. “I knew we had to start with something as good as the ones everyone craves from their favorite spot in Oahu. If we could impress the people who go to Oahu to buy their manapua and bring them back, then I would have something. People are serious about their manapua and they have a finicky palate.”
Keoni Smith, Gould’s fiancé and business partner, had brought her some manapua from Oahu, and after eating a few she wanted to know where they could get some on Maui. But Smith told her that Maui didn’t have any manapua bakeries. Gould couldn’t believe it. At the time, they were trying to establish their own horse stable and trail ride business. She tried to convince friends in the restaurant business to do manapua, but no one bit.
When setting up their horse stables stalled, they decided to bring manapua to Maui. After moving from Hana to Wailuku, they set up the Manapua Bakery. Gould says they first tested out recipes on friends and family.
“We got the sweet bread recipe from my great aunt in Portugal,” said Gould. “My auntie had to call her–my Portuguese is very rusty. This sweet bread is amazing. The steam bun is very particular, from the measurements to the steam time. You have to get it just right. The steam bun has to have that perfect roundness.”
Gould said it takes 25 minutes to steam and around 22 to 24 minutes to bake batches. The baked manapua have a little glaze that is brushed over the top to give it shine and a bit of sweetness.