Vegans, vegetarians and people who like trying new things, it’s time to rejoice! 7-Eleven has a new spicy vegetable manapua. So no meat and a little heat.
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I tried to figure out on my own what vegetables were in the amalgamation of mush cocooned in the pale white bun. But the only one I was 100 percent sure about was carrot, and that’s only because of its color. The others were unknowns that were somewhere on the vegetable spectrum. Instead of going down a vegetable rabbit hole on the internet to snoop out what’s in the filling, I emailed the folks at 7-Eleven Hawaii for help.
Here are the filling’s ingredients: water chestnuts (that’s what those crunchy things were), mushrooms, celery, carrots (knew it!), cabbage, bamboo shoots, teriyaki sauce, green onion, bean thread vermicelli, dried black fungus, ginger paste, garlic paste, crushed red pepper, black pepper and Chinese five spice powder.
To be honest, if you look at the mishmash of ingredients swathed in dough, it’s hard to tell its meatless and vegan. There's so much in the filling that when I stare at it for longer than any rational human being should, it looks like there could be some ground meat in it. But, nope, it’s all vegetable, no meat detectable. Even taking bites, it’s hard to tell there isn’t any meat. But although there’s a lot of filling, I do wish there was some non-animal protein.
What does a great job at hiding the meatlessness is the tasty sauce. It’s a little sweet, savory and somewhat spicy. To explain how fiery it is, I’m going to use a fast food reference that I hope many of you can relate to — Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. It’s slightly hotter than that. It tingles my taste buds, but it’s not spicy enough that I'm compelled to soothe my mouth with a glass of water, or since we’re talking 7-Eleven here, a Slurpee.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a meatless manapua. Although there was that time when I had a curry manapua, from a place that will not be named, that had a tiny pocket of curry sauce, no meat, and 95 percent of it was dough. That was unsatisfying, but 7-Eleven’s Spicy Vegetable Manapua is enjoyable.