Only in Hilo: Where to get the BEST Manapua

by Misty I.

IMG_7988.JPGOnly in Hilo: Where can you get the BEST Manapua in Hilo? Lee’s Chop Suey!

If you’ve lived in Hilo for a long time (at least 40 years) you know about the three famous trucks that sold goodies. They were:

  1. The “Caboose” – located at Onekahakaha Beach
  2. The “Ice Shave Man” – driven by Mr. Kawate from Kawate Seed Shop in his blue Datsun pick up
  3. The “Manapua Man” – driven by Mr. Lee in his large gray wagon type vehicle with the word “MANAPUA” written on it

Of all three, manapua was my favorite! Did you know that same wicked manapua is still sold by the Lee family today?!

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with Mrs. Lee at her wholesale certified kitchen where she filled me in on their history. It all started in 1972 when Mr. Lee (The Manapua Man) started driving his truck peddling his goodies. He did that for 15 years. In 1987, the Lee’s were so busy that they parked the Manapua truck permanently and concentrated on selling their delicacies wholesale to many Hilo businesses including supermarkets like KTA. Just in case you’re wondering, Lee’s Chop Suey no longer sells “chop suey” but they kept the name.

Strangely, many people who live in Hilo do not know about Lee’s. They don’t know you can buy manapua, pork hash, roast pork, char siu and laulau directly from them. After a stop at Lee’s (especially on laulau days) all you need to do is literally “go home cook rice” and presto(!) you have dinner for your family.


WHERE TO GO: 53 W Lanikaula Street (Corner of Lanikaula and Kinoole Street)


WHEN TO GO: 9:00am – 3:00pm M-F. (808) 961-6742

Lee’s has a system. They sell manapua, pork hash, char siu, and roast pork every day. On Mon/Wed/Fri they sell rice cake and on Tues/Thurs they sell laulau after 1:00pm.



Lee’s is a wholesale certified kitchen, not a store.

Park your car in the little parking lot and walk to the area that looks like a garage (not the house!) You know you’re in the right place when you see the two stainless steel doors that look like this…


Write down your order on this…


Ring the buzzer thing that’s painted green…


An employee will greet you. Give her your paper and she’ll get your order ready. Pay for your order.


I’m telling you, Lee’s has the best manapua and pork hash! Yes, better than Oahu-based Libby’s, Chun Wah Kam and Royal Kitchen. Only in Hilo!



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