Posts Tagged 'Chinese Food'

Dim Sum at Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant

To be honest, my food cravings are no weirder or more frequent than before I was pregnant (no pickles and ice cream runs in the middle of the night), but it sure is fun to have an excuse to eat what I want, when I want.

My food craving du jour was dim sum, specifically look fun and jook. So I enlisted my sister to accompany me, and half an hour later we ended up at Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant in Ala Moana Center. They don’t have the rolling carts that I like but the menu is nicely presented with pictures of all the dim sum items. The bad part is that they don’t have the rolling carts (they’re just so much fun!) but the good part is the steamed food was served piping hot.

Look Fun with Scallops ($5.50) – slippery smooth goodness covered in a savory sauce.

Seafood Rice Soup ($7.95), with chunks of fish, shrimp, and calamari

Xiao Long Bao ($3.50) – burn-your-mouth hot, delicious with vinegar and ginger!

Shrimp Dumplings ($3.50)

OOOOOOHHH YEEEESSSSS ← the sound of a craving being fulfilled.

Why is dim sum so delicious and wonderful? Sometimes the problem with indulging a craving is that it can lead to wanting more of it. Between the two of us this is all we could eat today, but now I’m already plotting my return for some turnip cakes and egg custard tarts.

MENU: View the menu on their website.

Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant
Ala Moana Shopping Center, Ho’okipa Terrace next to Macaroni Grill
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
Honolulu, HI 96814
808.947.8818

Daily 10:30a-10:00p (dim sum 10:30a-5:00p)

Jin Din Rou Hawaii

Met up with some friends for dinner at the newly opened Jin Din Rou! The restaurant picked Honolulu as their newest location in addition to 4 existing operations in/around Tokyo and 2 in Taipei. They are most famous for their xiao long bao (soup dumplings), one of my absolute favorite treats of all time.

Sorry, I forgot to write down prices, they did not have takeout menus available yet, and the menu on their website shows prices for the Tokyo locations in Japanese yen. But my overall impression is that pricing for xiao long bao was quite reasonable, and pricing for all other items were average, except for the fact that portions were characteristically Japanese (well presented, but small).

Xiao Long Bao! Little, delicate purses filled with pork and hot soup. According to the directions provided on “how to eat xiao long bao”, you’re supposed to break the skin, drink the soup, then dip it in black vinegar and enjoy with fresh slivers of ginger. For me, there’s only one way to eat my xiao long bao: by popping the whole thing in my mouth and enjoying the burst of flavor (and of course, burning my tongue in the process).

Traditional xiao long bao

Oolong flavored xiao long bao – similar in flavor to the traditional, but with a hint of tea flavor and tannins

Shrimp Wontons with Spicy Sauce

Tantanmen – with lots of freshly ground sesame

Shrimp and BBQ Pork Omelette

Beef with Bamboo Shoots and Bell Peppers

Pork and Sweet Potatoes in a Sweet and Sour Sauce

Nothing too exciting to share about the ala carte menu items, but I know I’ll be going back again and again just for the xiao long bao.

I’ve posed this question before, but does anyone know where else I can try good xiao long bao in Honolulu?

MENU: View the menu on their website. Menus are for Japan locations and prices are listed in yen, but the item list is very similar to the Hawaii location.

Jin Din Rou Hawaii
1491 South King Street, Suite 105
Honolulu, HI 96814
808.947.1133

Weekdays 11:00a-3:00p, 5:00p-12:00a
Sundays & Holidays 11:00a-3:30p, 5:00p-10:00p

Sweet Home Cafe

Recently I finally had the chance to try the Taiwanese style hot pot that’s all the rage right now. I feel like with the recent craze in hot pot, frozen yogurt and shave ice, a new generation of Asian business owners and consumers are really gaining momentum in the food industry. But let me focus my attention back to the restaurant that deserves our full attention.

Sweet Home Cafe, I love you.

This was my pick for my birthday girls’ night because I had heard of it so many times, and have witnessed the long lines outside at all hours of the night. What, I wondered, was all the fuss about? It turns out that all the fuss is about an incredibly satisfying, fun dining experience that packs so much value for your buck. No wonder it attracts crowds of young people and other cash-strapped customers like me.

If you haven’t yet been here, the system is quite simple: you select the broth(s) of your choice ranging in price from $5.95 to $12.95. If all of you agree on a broth, 3-4 people can easily share one pot of broth. If not, they have sectioned pots for you to enjoy 2 different broths. Then, go to town picking out the ingredients to put inside: thin shabu-shabu style meats, seafood, veggies, tofu, mushrooms, and a gazillion different kinds of fishcakes. The meats are prepared in the kitchen, but everything else is self-serve from their huge refrigerators. The dishes are color-coded by price: $2.75 for green and white plates, $3.75 for red and yellow plates, and $4-something for blue plates I think. (Note: there is a 90 minute time limit which should be enough time especially since they take your order while you’re waiting and swiftly bring everything out to you).

6 Fabulous things that make Sweet Home Cafe so fabulous:

  • Broths are all natural, no MSG
  • Free rice
  • Free refills on the broth
  • Free selection of 17 different sauces and condiments including chopped chinese parsley, fried garlic, sesame sauce, miso sauce, spicy sauce, etc. With this complete arsenal of dipping flavors, I could just cook the ingredients in plain water and it would still be good.
  • Free Taiwanese shave ice dessert
  • They pack up the leftover soup for you to take home, which you can enjoy with noodles for a whole other meal

Here we tried the house special broth and healthy herb broth. The house special broth is a clear beef based broth with chinese parsley, star anise and bay leaf, and had a similar flavor to pho broth. The milky broth was the healthy herb broth with a sweet nutty flavor and had a ton of what looked like ancient Chinese medicinal herbs and dried fruits and nuts inside. The broths are mild and not very salty, which is perfect because there’s the dipping sauces and the ingredients add their own flavor.

Here’s our pot after everything’s been added.  At the very end, Japanese style would be to add rice to make porridge or noodles (and they do have noodles) to enjoy all that flavor deposited by all those ingredients, but we were just too full. I enjoyed the soup the next day with some noodles and the amount of umami in the soup was just unbelievable.

After we ate to our hearts’ content, they brought out a huge bowl of Taiwanese style shave ice with all kinds of yummy toppings for us to share.

This entire meal for 4 was only $54.00 before tax and tip! The service here is extremely attentive and warm, and with people sharing tables when it gets busy, it really feels like you’re in their home’s bustling kitchen. It’s the combination of value, service, and the sheer fun of creating your perfect hot pot that makes this place so attractive.  I am hopelessly in love and can’t wait to return with my hubby. The long wait? It suddenly doesn’t matter anymore – love is blind.

Sweet Home Cafe
(inside Old Stadium Mall, by Kozo Sushi)
2334 S. King St.
Honolulu, HI 96826
808.947.3707
Daily 4:00p-11:00p

Retirement Banquet

Saturday night my husband and I were invited to a retirement party at the Ala Moana Hotel for one of his tennis friends. It was a huge party with about 250 guests and after being cooped up all day with the tsunami scare, everyone was ready for a good party!

The meal was Chinese banquet style, with platters of food served on lazy susans. We started off with Spring Rolls and Hot and Sour Soup.

Then Stir Fried Shrimp with Walnuts and Crispy Taro Duck. The Duck was so delicious.

Sweet and Sour Pork, Chicken with Ginger and Green Onion Sauce, and Tenderloin of Beef with Mushrooms.

Lastly, dessert was a slice of cake.

We had a blast! In true local style, there was a hosted bar, a live band, a slide show of course, and even a photo booth where they printed out photos on the spot as souvenirs. I absolutely LOVE attending weddings and banquets. As a former catering manager, it is so much fun for me to experience the food and service at various venues and observe every little detail that went into the party planning. And with every life celebration, it’s all about showing appreciation for and being with the friends and family who’ve supported you along the way. Congratulations to the guest of honor!

P.F Chang’s Waikiki

Yes! I can eat solid food now!

The girls and I got together for our September dinner at P.F. Chang’s in Waikiki, the restaurant of choice for Erin, our birthday girl. The restaurant is located on the ground level of Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, facing Lewers Street. The restaurant was a little dark inside, thus the quality of the photos are not the brightest.

We shared everything family style, starting off with my favorite appetizer, Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps ($10.50). They serve a well-seasoned chicken and water chestnut filling that you wrap your self with chilled iceberg lettuce. The lettuce is always cut into perfect circles – I wonder what they do with the edges of the lettuce? Perhaps that’s where the “Chicken Chopped Salad ($11.95)” comes in… (By the way, if you run out of lettuce, you can ask for refills).

P.F. Chang's - Lettuce Wraps ($10.50)

P.F. Chang's - Lettuce Wraps ($10.50)

For our entrees we ordered a balance of everything (all entrees are served with rice):

Shrimp with Candied Walnuts ($18.50) – this is my favorite shrimp dish here. When I first ordered it I was surprised to see it served with melon balls, but it actually goes well with the saltiness of the shrimp.

P.F. Chang's - Shrimp with Candied Walnuts ($18.50)

P.F. Chang's - Shrimp with Candied Walnuts ($18.50)

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce ($15.95) – simple dish made of exactly just that: tender pieces of chicken breast stir fried in black bean sauce. So yummy over rice.

P.F. Chang's - Chicken with Black Bean Sauce ($15.95)

P.F. Chang's - Chicken with Black Bean Sauce ($15.95)

Lo Mein with Beef ($12.25) – the standard noodles stir fried with veggies and beef. This dish was only so-so.

P.F. Chang's - Lo Mein with Beef ($12.25)

P.F. Chang's - Lo Mein with Beef ($12.25)

Stir-fried Eggplant ($9.95) – delicious in a sweet spicy sauce.

P.F. Chang's - Eggplant ($9.95)

P.F. Chang's - Eggplant ($9.95)

And a sweet surprise – complimentary mini dessert shooters ($2.75/each), since I knew one of the servers. Strawberry cheesecake on the left and red velvet cake on the right provided the perfect amount of sweetness to end a savory meal.

P.F. Chang's - Mini Desserts ($2.75/ea)

P.F. Chang's - Mini Desserts ($2.75/ea)

Everything here is fresh and tasty, and the service is consistently friendly and quick. I call P.F. Chang’s “the Chinese version of California Pizza Kitchen” – they’re both modern, American, family friendly, and you know exactly what you’re getting every time in terms of the quality of food and service.

It just so happened to be the Waikiki Ho’olaulea that night, so Kalakaua Avenue was blocked off with tent after tent of food booths and live entertainment. After dinner we walked around and checked out the crowd, but too bad we were too stuffed to check out any of the food…

OVERALL: GOOD
PRICE RANGE:$5.95-11.95 for appetizers, $8.95-25.95 for entrees. Click here to view the menu on their website.
MY BILL:$22.00 including my portion of the birthday girl’s meal (the ever resourceful birthday girl brought a coupon for 1 free entree)
RETURNING?: Yes

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
Royal Hawaiian Center
2201 Kalakaua Avenue #116
Honolulu, HI 96815
808.628.6760
Mon-Thu 11:00a-11:00p
Fri, Sat 11:00a-12:00 midnight

Jook

Ugh. Just got my wisdom teeth pulled and am restricted to a liquid diet. My dentist said “for the first few days, you’re going to be eating a lot of yogurt, ice cream, and pudding”, but no can since those items are all loaded with sugar.

So I made one of my favorite dishes: jook (Chinese rice porridge). This is a must-have dish for local people after Thanksgiving Day, utilizing the leftover turkey bones. Every culture has their version of porridge (okayu, cream of wheat, etc.) but I think this is my favorite.

The recipe is very simple: 10 Cups water to 1 cup uncooked rice, sliced ginger, a whole turkey or chicken carcass (I just buy a whole roasted chicken from Foodland, let my husband eat the meat, and use the bones), salt. Throw in a pot and simmer for 2 hours. Garnish with chopped green onions and Chinese parsley. I like mine drizzled with a little sesame oil.

091109 jook

Every time I’m sick or have oral surgery, I sincerely appreciate all aspects of my health that allow me to enjoy my passion: food. I’m thankful for my functioning taste buds, my sense of smell, my teeth and jaws to chew, and my healthy appetite.

Manapua from Island Manapua Factory

062209 island manapua box

My boss’s mother brought us manapua from Island Manapua Factory, one of my favorites! They have several locations with the main ones in Kalihi and in Manoa. When my father-in-law is visiting from Maui, this is a must-stop omiyage spot for him.

Manapua is what I had known all my life as char siu bao or 肉まん nikuman, but I never heard it by the name manapua until I moved to Hawaii. The two popular options are baked and steamed, and Island Manapua offers both with various fillings like char siu, oyster chicken, lup cheong, to name a few. Also serving tasty Chinese noodles and side dishes for take-out, this is one of my all time favorites for a cheap and satisfying lunch.

062209 island manapua

I helped myself to a sampling of each item from the box of goodies:

  • Steamed Char Siu Manapua ($1.25)
  • Baked Curry Chicken Manapua ($1.25)
  • White Rice Cake ($0.75)
  • Deep fried mochi ball with sweet bean paste – Jin Dui? ($0.95)

Island Manapua Factory
Manoa Marketplace, ground level by Bank of Hawaii
2752 Woodlawn Drive #5-113
Honolulu, HI 96817
808.988.5441
Mon-Fri 7:30a-8:00p
Sat 7:30a-7:00p
Sun 8:30a-5:00p
 


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