Mandoo is a popular food item in Hawaii and one you’re sure to encounter on your Hawaii Vacation. Small pieces serve as appetizers, while larger ones can be a meal. Mandoo are Korean dumplings that can be boiled, steamed or fried. They are traditionally filled with a stuffing of pork, beef or chicken. Some mandoo filings combine meats with items such as cabbage, onion or small, clear noodles.
I bought these mandoo on the UH campus, where the container of four small mandoo pieces was one dollar. (It may have been a special.) The sauce that came with the pieces was a red sauce with hot pepper flakes, although I have seen mandoo sold with a soy sauce-based sauce. These are fairly small, but a larger hand-made mandoo is also sold at a slightly higher price (just under a dollar each).
Mandoo are a part of the plate lunches sold at Korean food places in Hawaii, much like an egg roll accompanies a meal of Chinese food. As is often the case in Hawaii, there are variations. One is a large mandoo that is round, shaped more like a manapua (round bun with filling). It is called a “wang mandoo,“ which I’m told means “king mandoo.”
I like the fried mandoo because the crispy dough tastes good with the meat filling. The taste combination reminds me of Mexican fried taquitos, although the seasoning is very different. If you’re not a fan of fried food, the boiled or steamed versions are also tasty, more like dumplings.
Mandoo is just one of the many foods brought to Hawaii by immigrants and promptly mixed into local cuisine. Be sure to try it, if you get the chance. There is no reason to play it safe on a Hawaii vacation by eating the exact same food you do back home. It is probably more expensive here and won’t be as tasty as local favorites.