Manapua shops are a dime a dozen here in Hawaii. A few of these shops have their specialties and I'm sure that many people have their favorite shops too. Royal Kitchen is the home of "baked manapua", so if it's baked manapua that I want to eat, I will usually come to get it here.
Located outside the Chinatown Cultural Plaza right next to Nuuanu stream, you'll see a lot of elderly men out front playing mah jongg, card games or checkers. Inside, the shop is small and cramped -- see for yourself.
On the wall facing the counter you'll see the menu board listing the various types of manapua being offered as well as some of the menu items. On the right is the warmer where the manapua is kept once it comes out of the oven. Since the warmer was nearly full, I got to sample a few of the baked manapua. Here is the baked cha siu bun (US$.90).
The bread here is light and fluffy with just a touch of sweetness. The ratio of filling to bun was good and the minced char siu was quite tasty though a bit fatty.
I also tried the baked kalua pork bun (US$.90).
The kalua pork bun didn't really "WOW" me this time. The pork had a smokey aroma and flavor, however, it was just a bit too salty and a little too dry. Since this was the last one in the warmer, it may have been sitting for a while.
And finally, the baked lup cheong bun (US$.90).
An "elongated" bun was filled with a piece of sweet, oily lup cheong. I rarely eat lup cheong, but this was good -- imagine eating a Chinese "hot dog".
To go along with the manapua, I also ordered two pork hash (siu mai, US$.50 each).
The pork hash were bite-sized, meaty and not at all salty. The skin was thick and chewy and just the slightest bit oily.
And for an after lunch snack, I got a small package of shrimp chips (US$.50; large US$1.00).
Light and crisp, these made a nice snack. However, the shrimp chips were a little salty and not as shrimp-y as I would have liked.
Royal Kitchen calls itself the "Home of Baked Manapua" and it's a statement I think many people agree with. There are about 10 different varieties of baked manapua served here -- from kalua pork to vegetarian to chicken curry -- definitely something for everyone. The prices here are reasonable and the food is quite tasty. Royal Kitchen also offers a limited menu of plate lunches featuring Chinese dishes as well as catering and roasting services.
Chinatown Cultural Plaza
100 North Beretania Street Shop 175
Telephone: 808.524.4461 or 808.524.2843