1618 S. King St.
Phone number(808) 358-0287
Often when my fiancé and I are feeling indecisive about what to eat, we’ll drive down King Street until inspiration hits. It almost always works, too, because there are so many options along the way.
One place I frequent too much and yet not nearly enough: Mana Musubi.
Before I go on, yes, I am talking about what formerly was known as Mana Bu’s. I was pretty confused about the apparent name change myself, until general manager Chelsey Nakama explained that Manabu and Fumiyo Asaoka moved to Japan. While they still own the business, the Nakama family currently is handling operations.
More importantly, though, none of that has changed the flavor and quality of the musubis here.
I should add that I have been eating an inordinate amount of musubis lately. During my doctor-mandated diet and even now, it’s one of the very few things that I can eat without fearing it will make me sick. So I like to think I am something of an expert on musubis these days.
All musubis are not created equally, and those found at Mana Musubi are quite superior. First, they are the right size and ratio of rice-to-filling. Other musubis might sometimes lack the right amount of fish or whatever altogether. Or it might even be that there are clumps of filling found only at the very top and very bottom of the musubi, and nothing but rice in between.
Such is not the case with Mana Musubi. Most musubis start with a nice bite of rice and nori, something basic and salty to whet the palate. Then comes the first mouthful of rice and filling. It isn’t too much of anything yet but rather a tease of what’s to come before you finally take a bite somewhere in the center and get everything at once: plump grains of rice and sour-sweet clumps of ume (Japanese pickled plum). Or, you know, whatever musubi you happen to be eating.
Which brings me to another reason I favor Mana Musubi the most. Everything is so delicately prepared here. Baked salmon filling isn’t stuffed into rice in chunks. It’s flaky and light. Shiso and wakame (a Japanese leafy herb and seaweed, respectively) don’t just hit you when you reach the center of a musubi. Those all at once punchy and muted flavors dance on your tongue with every bite.
In addition to a pretty extensive selection of musubis — some of which are made with brown rice — Mana Musubi also sells tsukemono (Japanese pickles), tamago (Japanese sweet egg), and other small sides and treats. Metro staff writer Paige Takeya, who accompanied me on my most recent excursion, grabbed the tamago and reports that it was sweet and firm in texture.
One thing to keep in mind is that Mana Musubi begins its day early at 6:30 a.m. Lines sometimes are growing by the time I pop in around 7 or 7:30, so plan accordingly. I did stop in recently one morning around 9:30 to pick up lunch, and there still was a decent selection of items and no lines, so you kind of just have to get lucky.
Oh, and bring cash, because they don’t accept cards here. With that in mind, here’s something to look forward to: I bought six musubis during my last visit and only had to pay $9. Good eats and good deals.
SOMETHING TO EAT
My family goes to Hy’s Steakhouse exactly once a year to celebrate a family special occasion doubleheader (my parents got married on my dad’s birthday to “make it easy to remember”).
Last August, the server asked if we would be interested in trying a special course menu designed by chef Chai Chaowasaree. We weren’t (it was a venison dish, and we were all very beef oriented that day), but it turns out that was just a pleasant sign of things to come.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Hy’s is hosting a monthly dinner series featuring special menu s, wine pairings selected by master sommelier Patrick Okubo, and guest chefs.
Fourteen dinners will be held in all starting April 12, with additional dates on May 10 and 24, June 7 and 21, July 5 and 19, Aug. 9 and 23, Sept. 6 and 20, and Oct. 4 and 18, culminating with a grand finale Nov. 11.
Metro was told that the May 10 dinner will feature, among other things, a Poha Berry Flambé. Ice cream and fire will be involved — two of my favorite things!
For more information, visit hyswaikiki.com. To make a reservation, contact 922-5555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PARKING There’s a small lot and street stalls, too
SIP SIP HOORAY While you’re standing in line to pay, grab a drink to go with everything