Musubi line-up

The most popular Mana musubis include curry veggie pilaf, sekihan, wakame, spicy tuna mayo and Spam with tamagoyaki egg roll. 

Mana Musubi is reopening Wednesday with 25% more rice balls

New management hopes 1,500 musubi a day means they'll no longer run out by midmorning
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You haven't experienced heartbreak until you've pulled up to Mana Musubi, only to discover a closed sign and empty shelves. Hawaii's self-proclaimed musubi headquarters, the shop formerly known as Mana Bu's would open at 6:30 a.m., shelves bursting with nearly 30 musubi varieties, and sell out by mid-morning.

Trust me, it really hurts.

Musubi on a tray

The only way I've been able to enjoy a highly coveted Mana musubi was if someone woke up extra early to bring a bunch of them to the office I worked at. The rice is perfectly seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt and either mixed with ingredients like shiso and hijiki seaweed, or delicately filled with centers like spicy tuna mayo and ground beef sukiyaki. It's a struggle to name my favorite, let alone eat just one. 

If you have yet to try a Mana Musubi, there's new hope for you: Starting Wednesday, May 1, the shop will open a half hour earlier at 6 a.m. from Monday through Saturday, meaning they'll open six days a week now instead of only five. The're also ramping up musubi production by 25% try to keep shelves stocked through 1 p.m.. Since they now make 1,200 musubi every day, that's an additional 300 per day. *Hands-on-face emoji* 

The first 200 customers on Wednesday will also receive a free Ito En bottled tea with any purchase, while supplies last. 

Ito En bottled drinks

Mana Bu's is OG on the hand-crafted musubi scene. It opened in 2009 with Manabu and Fumiyo Asaoka meticulously making rice balls with white, brown, mixed-grain and organic rice, plus side dishes and desserts. In 2016 they turned over daily operations to Akira Nakama and his daughter Chelsey and earlier this month, the renamed Mama Musubi closed for minor renovations so the Nakamas could transfer operations to Victor Yeung and his wife Mei Zhen. The Asaokas still own Mana Musubi. 

The Yeungs with Manabu Asaoka
Mei Zhen and Victor Yeung with Manabu Asaoka.

The Yeungs are working closely with Asaoka to learn the craft of handmade rice balls and will continue making Mana Bu's 38 varieties with the same standards and ingredients. They're also learning to make the sozai side dishes and desserts to go with the musubi. 

Crab tamago omelet
The imitation crab and nori tamago (rolled omelet). 

I tried two tamago varieties and although they skew more sweet than savory, they have that perfect custardy center and are a great match for savory musubi flavors like Teri Spam Lite and curry veggie pilaf. The spicy pickled cucumbers and pickled edamame make for good palate cleansers between the different musubi, much like ginger between sushi courses. 

The desserts are also spot on, especially the cream caramel which is a lightly set custard pudding with a roasty caramel syrup at the bottom, similar to Filipino-style leche flan.

Desserts at Mana Musubi
The cream caramel puddlng, zenzai red bean dessert with shiratama mochi and coffee jelly made with local coffee. 

Other than opening earlier and making more musubi, not much else is changing. Even in 2019, it's still cash only. 

In case you were wondering, here's the full list of all 38 musubi varieties at Mana Musubi. Note that they may not be available all at once.

White rice 

  • Ume (pickled plum) 
  • Kombu 
  • Shiso-Flavored kombu 
  • Katsuobushi (shoyu dried-bonito) 
  • Shiso & wakame 
  • Salmon 
  • Salmon & sesame 
  • Salmon & tobiko 
  • Teri SPAM Lite 
  • Teri SPAM Lite with egg cake 
  • Tuna & mayo 
  • Curry tuna & mayo 
  • Spicy tuna & mayo 
  • Tuna & mayo with crunchy ume 
  • Grilled sausage 
  • Mentaiko (spicy cod roe) 

10-grain rice

  • Ground beef sukiyaki
  • Shiso + wakame
  • Shiso + wakame + chirimen
  • Hijiki mix
  • Kombu
  • Umeboshi 

Brown rice

  • Ume (pickled plum) 
  • Kombu 
  • Salmon 
  • Teri SPAM Lite 
  • Tuna & Mayo with crunchy ume 

Japan premium rice

  • Ume
  • Salmon
  • Ground Angus beef sukiyaki
  • Mentaiko (spicy pollock roe)

Mochi rice

  • Sekihan okowa

Pilaf rice

  • Veggie Curry Pilaf 
  • Shitake Chicken Pilaf 

Plain musubi (advanced order only)

  • white rice w/ nori seaweed 
  • white rice w/o nori seaweed 
  • brown rice w/ nori seaweed 
  • brown rice w/o nori seaweed 


Mana musubi shop exterior

Mana Musubi
1618 S. King St.
Makiki - McCully

Metered street parking (coins only)
Cash only