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Rise and Shine at Breadbox Hawai‘i

Family-run bakery in Mānoa gives us another reason to love carbs (not that we needed it).


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Owners Maria and Michael Price, who opened Breadbox Hawai‘i last May, have made this bakery in Mānoa a family affair.
Photos: Maria Kanai

 

Walk into Breadbox Hawaiʻi and you’ll immediately know it’s a family affair.

 

Owner Maria Price is working hard at the cash register, effortlessly carrying baby Mic-Key while ringing up a line of eager customers purchasing the specialty breads of the day. Her husband, Michael, is pulling out new trays of freshly baked pizza bread—he’s been working since 8 p.m. the night before. Their oldest son, Gee, is getting started with his homeschool homework at an outside table. By 8:30 a.m., the bakery is sporting a few empty trays already, but we’re still able to grab two boxes of carbolicious goodies.

 

The bakery began a breakfast menu in January, but it’s still in its soft opening stage. There’s no set menu and items keep changing daily, so you never know what you’re going to get.

 

“It’s our way to showcase our breads, like the shokupan,” says Maria Price.

 

The versatile shokupan ($4), pre-sliced Japanese-style white bread, is thick with an incredibly soft, milky texture, and is highlighted in many of the breakfast items.

 

“We don’t add any stabilizers, conditioners or chemicals,” says Maria Price. “That means our breads will go stale, but in a good way. Eat it as fresh as possible.”

 

Her tip: The breads freeze very well because of the lack of preservatives, so they’ll taste just as fresh heated up.

 

Her second tip: Come early. The store doesn’t have a closing hour—it closes when everything is sold out, which is typically 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

 

“Sometimes people come and buy bulks of their favorite items,” says Maria Price. “We’ve had customers buy a bread in the morning for breakfast and then come back in the afternoon to buy more for their family because they loved it so much.”

 

Her husband, Michael, born and raised in Hawai‘i, is a self-taught baker who grew up in his mom’s Italian restaurant. He brought over her original pizza sauce recipe into the pizza pan ($3), a slightly sweet tomato sauce that’s a great base for fresh ingredients such as mushrooms, olives or pepperoni.

 

Baker Michael Price grew up in his mom’s Italian restaurant. He brought that sauce to this bakery, creating personal-size pizzas with toppings such as pepperoni, mushrooms and olives.

 

He’s particularly proud of his Portuguese sausage chili ($8.50)—he’s of Portuguese descent—which is the breakfast special of the day. It’s a full meal, with perfect bread-to-chili ratio.

 

“Sometimes I put pineapple or jalapeño,” he says. “It depends on how I feel.”

 

The bread isn’t the crusty type you might be used to with traditional bread bowls; it’s soft and yet hefty, a thick white bread that holds up well to the hearty chunks of Portuguese sausage, beans, celery and carrots. The entire dish is adorned with a runny, fried egg and a sprinkle of paprika and green onions.

 

The bread bowls here are soft and hefty—thick enough to hold up well to the hearty chunks of Portuguese sausage, beans, celery and carrots.

 

Besides breakfast, the pastries, both savory and sweet, speak to the Prices’ willingness to experiment. We liked the an pan ($1.55), with red bean paste in every bite rather than typically just in the center of the bread. Our personal favorite was the gluten-free cloud fluff pie ($3), with sweet marshmallow “fluff” ensconced between two flourless, decadent double chocolate cookies. And the savory kim chee muffin ($1.75), chocolate bacon cookie ($1.25) and yuzu cinnamon rolls ($3.95) are great choices if you’re feeling adventurous.

 

The cloud puff pies, a specialty here, are gluten-free.

 

“We’re a family and we want to serve other families; that’s why we called our store Breadbox. It’s something you can take home and bring everyone together,” says Maria Price.

 

By summer, the couple hopes that the rotating breakfast items will become part of a set menu. Meanwhile, your best way to keep track of the bakery’s specials is Instagram or Facebook. Of course, you could keep it a surprise and just walk in. You won’t go wrong with any of the choices.

 

Breadbox Hawaiʻi, Mānoa Marketplace, 2752 Woodlawn Drive., 988-8822

 

READ MORE STORIES BY MARIA KANAI

 

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