Sunday, November 6, 2011

Best Lumpia on Maui

Nona of J N J Catering poses with her lumpia.

Lumpia is the most delectable Filipino dish to me, more so than other well-known Filipino dishes like pancit, a noodle dish, or adobo, a tangy chicken or pork main dish. I'm not even Filipino, but a good lumpia will set my mouth watering.  More slender than an egg roll, the best lumpia is crispy and golden on the outside, and yet, not too greasy.  Like an egg roll, it is filled with shredded vegetables and finely ground meat, but is crispier than an egg roll because there is more fried surface area per bite.  Oh, there is also a sweet version, banana lumpia, which is stuffed with banana and deep-fried as well. 

Lumpia is one of the ultimate deep-fried foods on the planet. And, it's not scary!  So many Filipino foods are really cultural tests... checking to see if the eater is brave enough to eat those foods, checking to see how much Filipino blood one has.  For more on that, read my post on balut. Lumpia is friendly, approachable, and yummy to eat.

The best lumpia I've had on Maui was at the Green Dragon Farmer's Market in Wailuku, on the corner of Lower Main Street and Waiehu Beach Road, opposite Jack in the Box. 

Green Dragon Farmer's Market, open daily
 J N J Catering (phone 808-205-1051) has a booth with plate lunch options, and offers both banana lumpia and vegetable lumpia (with meat).   At $2 for 3 vegetable lumpia, I was hooked.  Nona the chef, offered a choice of two sauces: sweet Thai chili sauce (not hot) or a vinegar flavored with hot peppers. Both are good, but the vinegar sauce helps to cut out the grease from the deep-frying. 

If you are in doubt with a Filipino menu,
lumpia is usually a good choice.
I eagerly bit into the first lumpia and was in heaven.  I managed to save one piece of lumpia for my husband, and then ended up going back a short time later to get another order of lumpia.  They were that darn good. In fact, they were ono - the Hawaiian word for delicious. I'm hooked. Anytime I'm in Wailuku, it's an excuse to stop by and see if they have any lumpia that day.

Banana lumpia is on the left, vegetable lumpia is on the right.

Is there better lumpia out there? Maybe, but I'm not related to anyone Filipino, so it's not like I can just wander into an auntie's or cousin's house for dinner. 

Where else can you get lumpia?

Pukalani Superette sells it in the hot deli section.  There are some food booths at the Maui Swap Meet on Saturdays, or some Filipino lunch places scattered on Lower Main Street in Wailuku, and maybe Happy Valley. But I can't recommend that most people wander into Happy Valley - despite the name, it's considered a rough neighborhood, especially if you can't speak pidgin.  Certain church bazaars or local festivals may have a Filipino food booth.  I've also seen it packaged in the frozen section of most supermarkets.

If the lumpia sits too long, it seems to feel more greasy, so best to eat it fresh and hot.  Cold lumpia is as enjoyable as cold French fries.  As much as I like lumpia, it's also not something I would eat all the time, so for me it's a special treat. If you've lived on Maui, and don't know what lumpia is, you are missing out.

Update 12/1/12: Haven't seen J & N's lumpia at this farmers market in a long time. 


  1. Courtney! You're blog posts are so incredibly informative! I've only been on island for about 6months but I've been eagerly searching out some good lumpia. Thank you for the recommendation. So excited to go try it hot and fresh! Cheers,


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