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Sep 11, 2008 10:22 AM

Looking for cha siu bao (hawaiian manapua) and noodle houses in DFW area

I've just returned from Hawaii and cant get the Chinatown experience out of my mind. One of the dishes i'm trying to find is what the locals call a Manapua, which i've found is the Chinese cha siu bao- pork bun. I've found a couple that are the frozen steamed kind which are ok, but i'm looking for a place that maybe does them fresh. Also i've seen some post for noodle houses, but what i really want to find are the fresh rice noodle rolls that sometimes have the pork or dried shrimp with veggies etc. I guess i can either try and find some places here in DFW or my only other option is to move there!
Thanks in advance

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  1. I grew up in Hawaii. The manapua in Hawaii is really distinct from anywhere else. Did you have the steamed or baked version? The Hawaii manapua is never really confused with char siu bao. Manapua typically uses a more Americanized stuffing and the pork bao uses shredded meat. My Popo (grandmother) swore that the manapua coming out of Chinatown from Libby's, Char Hung Sut, and Tsing Tin (I can't remember the accurate name and they closed years ago) was made with canned corned beef (during WWII our ports were closed and there was once a strike...thus, we eat a lot of spam and canned stuff, but we do know how to prepare it!). Char siu bao uses a higher grade of meat, is cubed and is seasoned with a sweet barbeque flavor. Manapua tends to be saltier and more liberal with its fillings, eg. chicken, sweet potato, etc. There used to be a place called the Manapua Company and I wonder if you can mail order it from there for the saltier manapua. For char siu bao, Maxime's and Kirin Court are your best bet. If your manapua was white it was probably char siu bao. If it was baked and brown, it was probably a true manapua. For the look fun with dried shrimp, I've only found one place that sells it really good and fresh like the Look Fun Factory back home. (All the look funn in Hawaii comes from this place and my dad and even I grew up knowing the owner. If you go inside you'll always see a cat sitting on the rice flour bags. I call the cat Mao Bao which is the translation for Cat Manapua. The owner loves it.) Anyways, in the DFW area, the look funn can be found at this Asian Grocery store in Plano on Legacy Drive in the same shopping center as Bobba Latte and the old New San Dor. When you walk in the door to this huge grocery store, immediately to your left you will see prepared foods like mochi (rice cakes), and the look funn with shrimp and scallions. Most restaurant get their look funn from Houston, so it's really not that good by the time it gets to the table. That's why I was so surprised to find the shrimp look funn and have it taste so good...just like home. While you are there, pick up some soy sauce and oyster sauce made by Lee Kum Kee. They are really good with the look funn.

    1. Not sure about manapua, but the Chinese bakery in Richardson next to First Chinese Barbecue and Boba Latte (Greenville and Polk) has char siu bao available to-go, but they are refrigerated. I haven't tried them, but the other stuff they make is really good so it should be worth a try. The ones Kirin Court has for dim sum are usually good.