Mike’s Mini Mart isn’t your usual mini mart in Kahului. One of the first things you’ll notice is the magnificent aroma of baking cookies. Next you’ll notice the rows of cookies among the stand-up coolers housing sodas, juices and energy drinks. In fact, all of the shelves are dedicated to the Maui Manjookies, a product that proprietor Jannelle Fukuoka developed herself as a gift for friends and family.
“I would rather bake more than cook, for sure,” says Fukuoka. “I like cooking to, and I started with plate lunches here in the Mini Mart but I just moved more into the cookies. When you have to cook for a crowd it’s different. I didn’t like it as much. You know what’s good about the baking? Cookies stay fresh for a long time, versus food. You can gift it better. It’s a good gift item. Nowadays people just go to the store and buy things. They don’t make things anymore. So I really liked that I could make something for my friends and family and give it to them for Christmas. Things that they liked to eat, but couldn’t get anywhere else. That got me baking.”
Little by little after she opened Mike’s Mini Mart, she phased out an array of plate lunches, salads and sandwiches to focus on the Manjookie.
“I think the thing is people get confused,” says Fukuoka. “They think the Manjookie is a manju but it is not. That is why I named it Manjookie. People ask me how I came up with the name. Well, it looks like a manju but it tastes like a cookie. It’s not really a cookie because it’s a cross between a manju and a cookie. It’s my own recipe. It looks like a manju but it doesn’t taste anything like that traditional Japanese treat. It’s more like a pastry. It’s kind of like a little pie with my own fruit that I make. I make everything from scratch.”
The hybrid inspiration comes from her grandmother’s and mother’s recipes, but Fukuoka says she tweaked it a lot to make it to her taste.
“The traditional manju is bland to me,” says Fukuoka. “My mom and my grandma were born in Japan. I haven’t travelled there. They had their own manju recipes, but I found them super-bland and really traditional. So when I had my grandma try my recipe, she said, ’That is not manju, but it tastes pretty good!’ I took the basic recipe and recreated it to make it my own, but with my own taste. I had been influenced by French pastries, and I liked my stuff sweeter.”
The Manjookie started as a hobby, and she would bake it and give it away as gifts. But as people caught on to it, they started to ask her to bake them and she started taking custom orders to cover her costs. Then she thought her mini mart would be the perfect place to bake and market them. Now she has a few locations. They’re sold at Matsu Restaurant, Kahului Airport and Pukalani Superette. But the most flavors, selection and specialty breads that come out on Friday are all at her Kahului location, where she also bakes them. Everything is handmade from the fillings to the cookie crust.
Her Manjookie flavors are Apricot, Azuki Bean, Blueberry, Cranberry, Coconut, Guava-Apricot, Lilikoi-Pineapple, Lima Bean, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter dipped in Chocolate, Strawberry, Strawberry-Lilikoi-Pineapple and Sweet Potato. These unique flaky pillows of melt in your mouth. Then there are her cookies. Crisp, delicious, and unique as well. They come in Almond, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut, Coffee Cookie, Corn Flake, Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Creamy Peanut Butter, Maui Hawaiian Cookie, Mocha Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Shortbread, Sprinkle Cookie (Kids Cookie),Shortbread, and Shortbread macadamia nut.
“The most popular flavor right now is the lilikoi pineapple,” says Fukuoka. “Peanut butter is very popular, too.”
She spent quite a bit of time researching her packaging, too.
“The bags are really good because they keep my products fresh and they are really good for shipping out,” says Fukuoka. “That is why I went with these particular bags. For shelf life, shipping and traveling, too. The cookies have a long shelf life, and you can freeze them. They are really good if you want to take them anywhere, travel with them for gifts. You can also buy a lot and freeze them. As long as you don’t open the bag you can keep it for up to six months. It was really hard to figure out the packaging. What I would really like to do is seal each cookie. That is what I wanted to do from the beginning but it is really expensive for the little bags. I would need a machine that seals each one, kind of like Big Island Candies.”
Fukuoka says she can individually package special orders for weddings or events. If you want to create an order to ship out, she does all of the arrangements for that as well, and takes shipments to the post office. It’s all online at Mauimanjookies.net too. For her fresh baked breads, you order during the week for pick up on Friday.
“My bread recipe took about two years of trial and error,” says Fukuoka. “It’s the texture of bread that I like to eat. It’s the kind of food I want to eat. Soft, chewy and dense. Not too sweet. It’s an all-around bread, very versatile dough. You can use it as a dinner roll, or stuff it, or use it as a sweet bread for anpan. I can do manapua, chicken curry, hot dogs.”
The day I visited she made a hot dog bun with a sweet honey mustard barbeque sauce. It was so good. She sells them by the piece or you can order half dozen or full dozen. As for the Manjookies, they come in bags starting at $8 or larger jar starting at $11.50. Follow her Instagram (@mauimanjookies) to find out when she makes her chocolate-dipped versions.
“If I don’t bake one day, I get so behind,” says Fukuoka. “I have to bake every day or my inventory just drops. I have to constantly bake! But it’s always fresh. I think one of the secrets to my texture is because it’s hand-rolled. If you use a machine, it’s not the same. We bought a machine because when we wanted to go out and distribute them to other stores and make bigger volumes. We did a test run on it and ended up not even using the machine. You have to handle it, that’s what makes it so unique. It’s because it’s hand-rolled and I think that it makes it so flaky. But it’s a lot of work for each cookie.”
Mike’s Mini Mart
343 Hanamau St., Kahului
@mauimanjookies on Instagram and Facebook
Open M-F 8am-4:30pm, Sat 9am-1pm
Photos by Sean Hower