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It's the food you probably remember from small kid days. When the man used to sell it as he walked down the street with two cans on a long pole over his shoulder. It's manapua. And on this week's Cheap Eats, Sam and I found a place that makes it like no one else.
Count the number of people waiting to be served and you know you're in a place that has some great food.
Lyle: "So Sam, when I say teri burger, shoyu chicken, turkey melt, what do you think of?"
Sam: "Plate lunches. "
Lyle: "No, where we at? Aiea Manapua and Snacks."
Tucked away in Aiea Village Square on Moanalua Road is this tiny shop that's been here for 20 years. Four employees spend their day in these cramped quarters.
Sam's in the kitchen with owner Duane Horio to find out why the manapua here is so good.
Sam: "Everything is chopped by hand, huh.
Duane: "Oh yes, yes. Lotta labor involved, lotta love. Lotta love boy. It's hard work."
"Steamed manapua goes a long way back and a lot of the older generation prefers steamed but the baked has come a long way and it pretty much sells the same amount as the steamed."
One customer orders two pizza manapua. Yep, you heard right, pizza manapua. It's one of the most popular items here. Danny Alvarez says, "it's just good, it's cheesy, I like it you know, and I bring it for my clients so I come down here it's easy, we can pick at it, we can talk story, so it's good."
But there's also ham and cheese manapua, shoyu chicken manapua, teri hot dog manapua, turkey melt manapua, and other specialties. Those flavors have the cash register ringing. But the staple of the operation is the char siu manapua and dim sum.
Customer, Kay Fujishige says, "I live in pearl city, I come all the way. Yeah, I'm taking it for some of my friends today. It's that good. Oh yeah, it's good. Haven't you tasted it?"
Lyle: "Man, Sam, look at all of this food. Amazing uh. What do you got there.
Sam: "Well, I got half of a shrimp half moon. Half of a half."
Lyle: "This is the pizza baked manapua. Got try this out, I've never had one of these before."
Sam: "Like eating a pizza?"
Lyle: "Yeah, tastes just like pepperoni pizza. It's got the cheese flavor in there, the pizza sauce. Wow."
And at an average price of 89 cents each, these are some Cheap Eats.
Aiea Manapua is in the Aiea Village Shopping Center at 99-149 Moanalua Road.