Manapua is the Hawaiian version of the Chinese pork filled steamed bun called cha siu bao or char siu bao. The name “manapua” comes from the shortened version of the Hawaiian term used to describe the Chinese dim sum food item. Mea’ono pua’a, translates to “thing delicious pork”.

When Chinese immigrants arrived in Hawaii during the plantation boom they brought along cultural customs, music, and ethnic foods. Chinese food vendors would walk through the ethnically divided plantaion camps selling various food items. The dim sum (bite size) served char siu bao was an overwhelming favorite among local residents and Hawaiians. They would order mea ‘ono pua’a, that delicious pork pastry thing; manapua.

Over the years the manapua has drastically evolved from the original char siu bao. The smaller bite sized dim sum style gave way to a much larger Hawaiian style serving. Double, triple and sometimes quadruple the size. The manapua bun is now served either steamed or baked. Manapua now comes in a variety of tasty fillings. Along with the traditional barbequed pork filling it can feature kalua pork, curry chicken, Hawaiian hot dog, Portuguese sausage, Chinese lup cheong sausage, or even Japanese ube, a purple yam paste filling.Getting hungry… whea da manapua man stay!?!?! We go eat, time to kaukau!

Related: Hawaiian Manapua Man