This is the best independent health food store on the island, and an excellent place to stock up on essentials (and indulgences) before heading out to Hana. The barely reconstructed warehouse space hosts nearly everything you could want to buy for healthy grocery items, amazing produce sourced locally, and an array of natural cosmetics and remedies. We forgive the crowded aisles, sudden ramps in the flooring, and mismatched tiles because the prices are often lower than elsewhere, and we can find things here we can’t anywhere else. We approach the scarcity of parking and the strange cast of characters lolling about at the door as a sort of Zen thermometer. If we are relaxed, we find the circus charming and fun. If we happen to be extra hungry or in a hurry, we find our annoyance quotient tips in the other direction. The cure? An immediate dose of chocolate.
Fortuitously, the entrance to Mana is lined in every conceivable gourmet chocolate bar, including those laced with chili pepper, goji berries, and bacon. The chocolate selection is reason enough to visit this grocery wonderland.
The prepared food section includes an ample salad bar with wild greens, quinoa, green papaya salad, stuffed grape leaves, decent sushi, sandwiches and wraps. The attendants will scoop hijiki salad, curried chicken, and lovely eggplant parmesan into to-go containers for you. They can also make smoothies, sandwiches, or burritos, and slice free-range and organic meats and cheeses to order. Of special note are the phenomenal vegan desserts. The silken tofu chocolate mousse with walnuts is dreamy, as is the tapioca with layers of fresh fruit. We also highly recommend the dark Ukrainian sourdough bread they make in-house.
The produce aisle offers every variety of fruit grown in the Islands, including many you may not have heard of. Luckily, a produce guru stands by, waiting to slice you a sample. (Sadly, the best service is had in this aisle — otherwise it’s rather disinterested, even in the vitamin room.) Ask lots of questions and learn how to select the ripest, most mind-blowing mango or cherimoya. Dried fruits and nuts are available in the bulk room; try the whole dried bananas or sliced, dehydrated mango.
Paia is home to many surfers who come from all over the globe for the big waves, so Mana stocks plenty of gourmet and European treats (European butter, Greek yogurt, Nutella). Although it’s small, it manages to carry as comprehensive an inventory as the best health food stores on the mainland. Did we mention the huge chocolate bar selection as you walk in? Our only complaint is actually a request. The closest place to sit and eat is several blocks away. May we suggest the owners consider opening the rooftop for al fresca dining?
Address: 49 Baldwin Ave., Paia, North Shore
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hours: Daily 8:30am-8:30pm
Parking: Lot, Street