Oct 2

WIT Life #129: Maui Manju and other Hawaii discoveries

WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

I find myself lucky enough to be finishing my current interpreting assignment here in Honolulu.  I head home tonight but was able to spend my last afternoon with my local JET friend, who took me to the Don Quijote behind my hotel.  I was expected the kind of zakka they have in Japan, but here it is a full-fledged supermarket stocked with a plethora of Japanese and other goods!

One item I found there that I have never encountered before in Hawaii was Maui Manju.  My friend became visibly excited when she saw it, saying she always brought some home when she visited Maui, but didn’t know they sold it here.  The official name is Maui Crispy Manju, and she said it is different from the typical version of this sweet in that it’s somewhat flaky.  There were a variety of flavors such as sweet potato, but I went for the standard azuki (the Deluxe pictured).   Its texture resembled that of a scone, and the red bean taste was not very pronounced.

Another sweet being sold at a small stand in Don Quijote was taiyaki, but it went beyond your standard red and white bean flavors to offer both a cranberry and a ham/sausage and cheese breakfast version.  As it was already after lunch, I went for the former.  The inside was composed of actual dried cranberries, which was disappointing as I was expecting more of a paste.  However, the taste went well with the taiyaki outside.

It is always interesting to find new foods here that demonstrate how Hawaii has fused disparate culinary cultures.  I look forward to coming back and making my next discovery!

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