You are not imagining things. Four months ago, we had zero Samoan bakeries or delis.
And now the South Sound has three.
Lilly’s Bakery and Deli, an offshoot of a Samoan bakery and deli in Kent, opened April 8 just off Portland Avenue East. A Taste of Samoa Manapua Bakery had its soft opening April 30 in Parkland. In mid-February, Polynesian Favorites opened in East Tacoma.
Here’s a quick look at each:
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LILLY’S BAKERY AND DELI
Where: 5604 Portland Ave. E., Tacoma; 253-267-0391; facebook.com/lillysbakerydeli.
Owners Lilly and Paniolo Gaoa opened their first bakery and deli in Kent in 2015.
Lilly Gaoa kept noticing a trend. “Every time a card is slid (on our cash register), it tells me the location of where the customers are coming from. About 80 percent were coming from Tacoma,” said Gaoa. When it came time for expansion, Tacoma was a natural for the second location of Lilly’s Bakery and Deli.
The steam-table deli is at the rear of the restaurant and store, which offers comfortable seating for about 20. The bakery is across the street from Helen’s Donuts and Ice Cream.
The bakery is launching its baked goods slowly because most items are baked in the Kent location and shuttled down a few times a day. After mid-May, the selection will increase, but right now the bakery sells pineapple moon cups, which are Gaoa’s version of Samoan half moon pies. “It’s a cupcake version of a half moon,” she said. “The crust is more of a shortbread crust. The filling is pineapple.” The tarts are $1 each or $5 for half dozen and $10 for a dozen. There’s also regular bread, cinnamon or raisin bread ($3.25-$4 each).
Puligi, a bundt-style cake made with coconut milk is sold whole ($15) or by the slice ($3). There’s also banana or papaya porridge in 16-ounce containers ($3-$4) or 32-containers ($6-$8). Coming soon are panipopo buns ($12 a dozen), meat pies ($4 each) and masi biscuits ($4 a half dozen).
On the deli table, find prepared hot dishes ready for takeout, including turkey tail, fried fish, sapasui (chop suey), corned beef, lamb curry, taro, rice and bananas. Prices range from $3.69 a pound for turkey tail to $4.50 for a 16-ounce serving of sapasui.
“We’re adding something different every day,” said Gaoa of the steam table menu.
There’s also a small store specializing in Samoan groceries, island favorites and clothing.
A TASTE OF SAMOA MANAPUA BAKERY
Where: 13817 Pacific Ave. S., Tacoma; 253-348-4989; bit.ly/2p3fgwF.
Edward Leota’s niche bakery had its soft opening this week at a storefront for another restaurant. For now, he’ll share space with South Beach Cuisine and Espresso in Parkland.
Leota and his wife had moved to Puyallup from Hawaii. When construction jobs slowed, Leota started experimenting with baking. Leota described his bakery menu as a merge of Hawaiian and Samoan cuisine. His specialty is steamed manapua, Hawaiian-style meat buns, served split in half and stuffed taco style with a choice of curry, teriyaki or Samoan-style turkey tail ($3 each). He also serves mini puligi cakes, which are steamed pudding cakes with a sweet custard sauce ($1.50 each or $15 a dozen). Find a few other items, as well, including mini half moon pies (99 cents each) and meat pies filled with ground beef ($5).
Leota will keep limited hours as he starts his business, serving 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. weekdays (closed Mondays) and 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Sunday.
Where: 918 E. 72nd St., Tacoma; 253-301-0832; facebook.com/pg/polyfave.
As I wrote back in March, couples Henry and Moli Po Ching, and Joe and Metala Mikaele opened their Samoan bakery and deli in mid-February in East Tacoma. Mikaele is the primary cook, but all four share responsibility for the store.
The storefront is a deli with a bakery case filled with pineapple paifala, also called Samoan half moon pies ($3.99 half pie/$7.98 full pie). There’s also baked papa (short for fa’apapa), a small loaf of dense, coconut-flavored bread ($4.99). German buns, fluffy dough buns filled with jam or coconut ($4.99) and puligi with a sweet dipping sauce also are sold.
Steam-table items can be purchased as single items or as combination meals. Meals are $10 (three items, plus a starch) or $15 (four items, with taro). Deli dishes include sapasui, known as Samoan chop suey, fai’ai pilikaki, which is fish cooked in coconut milk with spinach, turkey tails and kale mamoe, a curry stew made with lamb.