Russian Manapua

Only in Hawaii would you find a hole-in-the-wall in another hole-in-the-wall, serving Russian street food next to Filipino plate lunch. When we arrive there’s already two customers in line. 

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I quickly order two lunch specials–Piroscki, fried squid, toss salad $4.99 +tax. As we wait for our food I talk story with a Japanese man in jeans, slippas and a five o’clock shadow. A customer since its original location across Fort Street he jokes “we used to call these Russian manapua.”

The line gets longer as two local women wait their turn. One of them orders a dozen. “I’ll wait” she says and smiles. As we talk she explains she catches the bus from Waianae to run errands and tries to make a stop here whenever she can.

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The menu at Rada’s is small–three kinds of Piroscki (Piroshki), fried squid, and toss salad. Like Manapuas, the Piroscki and squid are a quick and cheap snack at $2 (including tax).

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The dough can be seen from the window as it’s stuffed and fried. Lorna learned to make the Piroscki from her great-aunt who learned to make them from Rada, the original owner.

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Like the restaurant, the Piroscki is a pocket of nostalgia. Some customers have been coming here for decades. In fact, according to Lorna, Rada’s has been selling these Russian Manapuas for almost 50 years!

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I’ve never had a Piroscki or even a Piroshki before, but at $2 you can’t go wrong. We ordered the lunch special, but skip the salad if you’re on the go. Like all good street food, Pirsockis can be eaten with one hand and the fried squid comes in a paper bag. Be sure to get dressing. The sweet dill vinaigrette is great for dipping.

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A quick sampling of the Filipino food offerings.

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Coming here was all about the experience. It’s a wonderful mishmash of cultures that Hawaii is so good at embracing. As we eat our Russian manapuas, next to the Filipino counter, a Chinese Lion Dance parades down the mall in celebration of the Lunar New Year. A multi-cultural education and a show for two bucks…Only in Hawaii.

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7 thoughts on “Russian Manapua”

  1. I’ve always referred Rada as the Piroshky lady. I remember experiencing my first Piroshki in Hawaii with Sharon during one of our many cheap dates. Even took Cassie and Matt there when they was little. I think the original location was Makai of where they’re are now. Those days Rada was the only person her shop. The second time I came across more piroshky was on Pike’s market it Seattle Wa. The Pike’s Market piroshky shop had different kind of fillings. I remember the potato, cheese, mushroom, chicken and beef. Might be more. I still remember driving within a 100 miles of Pike’s we would start talking about the piroshky and next thing you know we would detour the 100 miles and go eat piroshky. There’re excellent soup bars too a few shop from that Pike’s market piroshky shop. Oh yea, piroshky and Chun’s goes back awhile.

  2. About 35 years ago, Rada’s had another location in the Aina Haina shopping center. It was where Mama Pho is now. I remember the old lady, but I also remember an old man with a heavy Polish/Russian? accent. I guess they were the original owners. I’ve got some really great tastebud memories of Rada’s.

  3. The first Rada’s I knew was on Kapiolani at the end of Keamoku. Then she moved to Fort street Mall. Moved to Vegas two years ago. Miss the local food. Brought back 10 when I came back to Vegas last September. All gone now. Sure would love the recipe. Think they use some special oil to fry it in…maybe some lard?.. Also would like Tanioka’s recipe for Maki Sushi. Broke the mouth! Pete

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