The Next Big Dim Sum in Hawaii
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu
Ala Moana Shopping Center, Fourth Floor
Open daily, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. (dim sum available till 5 p.m.)
Reservations, major credit cards accepted
I just returned from a long weekend in Hawaii for my niece's high school graduation, and of course the first thing I did after getting off the plane was head for some dim sum with my Mom. And while she has her old favorites in town, there have been several new restaurants opening since my last visit two years ago, including the Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant at the Ala Moana Shopping Center.
This fancy new spot on the fourth floor in the center of the mall opened a few months ago, and my Mom has been going regularly along with tons of other locals and tourists, driving away customers from some of the more established dim sum tea houses on the island. Jade Dynasty Seafood has all the flashiness of a Hong Kong tea house, with the glittery counters and dramatic lanterns. Even though we arrived late for lunch, the place was still bustling for a weekday.
Just like Hong Kong, the dim sum are ordered from a checklist and not from the roving carts, this way the food is made fresh to order. There were a lot of varieties of dim sum, and some twists to classic choices.
Here's the Sticky Rice with Chicken and Scallops ($3.50). The ingredients are steamed in lotus leaves, and here at Jade Dynasty the servers can cut them in half on your request, making for an interesting presentation. The menu said chicken and scallops, so I thought that would be different because most places just make it with the chicken and some mushrooms and Chinese sausage. The scallops sounded different, but it was actually dried scallops, which is not the same as fresh scallops. Still, the freshly cooked sticky rice was cooked just right and the many ingredients combined nicely for a hearty dish.
You know Shanghai dumplings, or xiao lung bao, are my latest obsession so I ordered a tray ($3.50). I was disappointed to see only three arrive (most places in the Bay Area will offer at least six). The skin was a bit droopy, not keeping up its shape, but the filling was tasty and there was a lot of soup inside.
Another of my favorite dim sum is the dessert-like custard buns. This is actually the combination of pineapple buns filled with custard ($2.95), but I thought the buns were a bit dry although I did like the custard filling. But my favorites are still from Koi Palace in Daly City.
Another interesting item is this Curry Chicken Puffs ($3.50), which is like an empanada but filled with curry chicken. This was my least favorite because the puffs didn't puff up as much so the overall item seemed a bit flat. The filling was a bit too spicy for me, more like an Indian curry than the milder Asian curry. My Mom, however, thought they were great.
Here are some steamed dumplings. These are the Chiu Chow Style dumplings ($3.50). Chiu Chow is a type of cooking style from a particular region in China. What's interesting about this dumpling is that it's filled with a lot of different ingredients all minced into pieces and blended together. This also makes it difficult to eat as the ingredients will fall out of the dumplings if you don't eat them in just a few bites.
These are Shrimp and Chives dumplings ($3.50), which were done well, each filled with a whole shrimp. My Mom thought it was overboard having a full shrimp but it reminded me of a trend in the cooking in Hong Kong where shrimp is often served whole.
This sounded interesting on the menu, but turned out differently than what I expected. They're the Green Tea dumplings ($3.50), which are mochi (sticky rice flour) made with green tea and then filled with cooked grounded taro. I liked the filling because I'm a fan of taro, but I didn't like the green tea shell. First, they were really sticky, almost like they were overcooked. It was very difficult to eat. Second, there wasn't much of a green tea taste, just the color.
We also had some other dishes that I didn't photographed, including my Mom's standard order of chicken feet ($3.50) and cheong fun (or flat rolled noodles), which were filled with scallops ($4.50). These were actually fresh scallops, and not the dried ones.
I felt like we ate a lot (my sister was also with us) and with all that we ordered, the tab came out to be only $33 (before tax and tip). That seems quite reasonable given the quality and the setting, which looks like a fancy tourist restaurant.
Jade Dynasty has a variety of dim sum, some done well and others not so much. But the luxurious decor and freshly made food makes them the new in place for dim sum in Hawaii.
Single guy rating: 3.5 stars (authentic HK style dim sum)
Explanation of the single guy's rating system:
1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
The Next Big Dim Sum in Hawaii