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Chinese New Year Street Food in Honolulu

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Not precisely a restaurant, but an infinitely larger menu!





467new years food.jpgdim sum and malasadas.jpgbakery.jpgwoks.jpgsnacks.jpgvendor.jpg

post #2 of 27

Oh my gosh!!  That’s how you do it! 

Take your nice big canvas bag and fill it up!  I still have my Maikai bag from Foodland and use it for everything. 

Gau $1.00, Pork Hash $1.00, kinda expensive, yeah? 

I am SOOOOO jealous, Pohaku. 

Were you home this past January? 

 I really wanted to find a lion dance this year, the water dragon is my husband’s “year”.  But most of all, how was the food and what all did you eat?  I use to work on Bishop Street and went into China Town on a regular basis for lunch or a take home for dinner. 

We haven’t been back for almost two years now. 

Again, I am so jealous!!

post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 

Last year actually.  Doesn't look like I'm going to be able to get back this year.  The kids' spring break schedules are different and we had too many things going on in January.  Usually I get back there twice a year, with one of those times coinciding with Chinese New Year.  This will be the first year I haven't been back in 30 years or so.


That's actually my sister with the canvas shopping bag, LOL.  In the Chinese bakery on Mauna Kea Street.  She lives in LA and usually travels with two large coolers when she comes to Hawaii.  She has three boys and the food disappears rapidly when she gets home.  We see each other when we can arrange a joint visit to Honolulu and we have been scheduling them during January/February the last couple of years.  Visits are kind of a hunting and gathering expedition for us.  While you can get most Asian/Hawaiian stuff in LA (and even quite a bit of stuff in Minnesota), there are a few things that just aren't the same.  Joong (sticky rice, sausage and salted duck egg wrapped in ti leaves), sesame mac nut candy and bao at the bakery.  Char siu from Eastern Market.  Coffee from Lion Coffee Company.  Laulau from Yama's Fish Market.  Portuguese sausage, taro, toong mai, etc., etc.  Every place sells gau for the New Year, even Longs Drugs.  I'll have to make my own this year.

post #4 of 27

Too funny, really, that’s your sister? 

Braddah, that’s all over me when I go shopping.  Get that big bag and fill da bugga up!! 

Tell, what do you folks buy when you “ hunt and gather”? 

That sounds like me too!! 

We just got back from San Diego/Southern California, we were visiting our niece (from Mililani) and we ALWAYS have to go to Marukai and pick up a few things.  This time I bought frozen Zippy’s Chili, yeah boy!!  My husband was all, “why don’t you just order it online?” 

Do you know what they charge just for the S&H for package?  $28.xx !!  The chili is only $8.99!!  No lie!!

My sister was here from LA and I took her over to our “Asian Market” to get Portuguese Sausage and they were out!! 

So I gave her what had stashed in the deep freeze.    Nice, yeah me?  I found some more a couple of weeks ago. 

post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 

Hunting and gathering:


In addition to the joong and laulau, I usually get Portuguese sausage (Miko or Franks from the Big Island if possible), pipikaula (Redondo works if I can't get Miko or Frank's), dried ahi or marlin, Lehua Blossom and Macadamia Nut Blossom honey, guava  and lilikoi jelly (although you can get that on the mainland now), and toong mai from Sun Chong store in Honolulu Chinatown.  We also get fresh fun noodles in Chinatown and kalbi marinated meat from a Korean market.  We get baked mana pua from Island Mana Pua Factory (their baked char siu and kalua pig mana pua are great - the other stuff is so-so).  I used to get frozen lilikoi juice and bring it back in a cooler, but I can now get frozen lilikoi base and syrup here.  If I can find Hawaiian taro (the real purple kine) I will steam a few up and freeze them to bring back as well - same with luau leaves.  Surprisingly, Costco is a pretty good source of local food.  They usually carry Kauai coffee at a very decent price, as well as Oahu kine Portuguese sausage, dried ahi, and the like. 


Of course, you need to get bento or plate lunch for the plane.  Yama's Fish Shop, Shirokiya or L&L usually works well for that.  I'm sure everyone has their favorite place.  Ono kine.

post #6 of 27

We can get a lot of stuff here too.  Now that I think about it, there’s really not too much that we can’t get. 

On this last trip to SoCal, I only got the Zippy’s Chili, Redondo brand Portuguese sausage (never was a fan of Miko brand), Kamaboko and Saimin.  That’s it…

Now, sometimes my favorite “Asian Market” is out of one thing or another for long periods of time. 

For example, Diamond Brand Soda Cracker.  I like to buy the BIG box, and here in the dry desert, it doesn’t go stall very quickly, and it’s more economical.  We found it up in the Phoenix area last time we bought a box.   

As for plate lunch/bento on the plane, us locals we sure do think alike!

Ever since they stopped feeding you on the plane, I always brought something from somewhere... L&L, Zippy's, the small Mom&Pop place by our house, who ever was open and close by.  At first my husband was just appalled ("you're going to stink up the whole plan!"), but then when he got hungry, well then it was a different story.  It was suprising how many people bring a bento box with them.  Last time we went back, the TSA lady looked at our lunch and gave me the thumbs up, "good choice" she said.  HAAA!



post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 

If I could only get real Hawaiian style Portuguese sausage here.  Sigh.  So far, I've experimented with making my own.  Not there yet.  There aren't any real good recipes out there that I've been able to find.  The few that are available just don't quite do it.  I have noticed some Filipino sausage that looks close, but haven't tried it yet.

Edited by pohaku - 2/8/12 at 2:31pm
post #8 of 27

No kidding, making your own Linguica?  I’m impressed braddah man!! 

I never thought to try that one, but then I’ve only lived on the Mainland for 4 years and necessity is the mother of all, right? 

I have been very fortunate to have been able to find what I have. 

I would think that living more towards the middle of the country, farther from the West Coast anyways, it would be more difficult to find “our comfort foods”.  Each culture has their own forms of comfort foods.   



post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 

That's the reason I learned to cook. Went to college in Wisconsin in 1970 when you couldn't find anything resembling "local food" to buy.  So I figured that if I wanted to eat "local food" I'd have to make it myself.  So I learned to make my own kimchee, maki sushi, char siu, sweet bread,  etc.  Luckily, my mother was a good cook and I could just call her and ask -- then try and find ingredients (or decent substitutions).  With the exception of a 3 year hiatus back in Hawaii for grad school, I've otherwise lived on the mainland since then. Certainly what you can now buy on the mainland has changed significantly and for the better, but there's still stuff I can't get here in the Midwest.  So we make do and import when we can't biggrin.gif

post #10 of 27

Pohaku and Kaneohe, I was in China town a few weeks ago, stopped in a small Mom and Pop shop that had cooked Char Siu pork. They sold it by the pound along with some crispy pork, I bought some they wrapped it in butcher paper and it was great eating while walking. Love the Honolulu China town, small and easy to do in a few hrs with lots of small foods to sample. I had some Cut up Chicken left over, so I talked myself into making Shoyu Chicken today.I think we need to take a token Howlie along with you guys, he likes local food.....take care..............ChefBilly



post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

I'll let you know the next time I go.  If we can coordinate it, you too can go hunting and gathering with us!  I'm hapa, so the haole part is just finebiggrin.gif

post #12 of 27

ChefBillyB, Dude!!  That looks so ONO!!!

And as for this little Hawaiian girl, I'm truly a poi dog!  All Mix 'em up. 

Haole boyz are oaky by me!  (did I mention my husband is Italian?) 

So long as you can keep up on the grindz!!  You're always welcome at our table, braddah!!


post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 

A lot of us whose families are several generations in Hawaii are now what we affectionately call "Heinz 57" - lots of stuff all mixed up.  We have lots of people who are "hapa" - half and half, as well as those with more complex racial admixtures.


I'm hapa pake - half Chinese and half Haole.  The Haole side of my family originally came from Luxembourg and intermarried with German, English, Irish and Scotch immigrants.  I'm married to a woman whose background I generally refer to as a product of a South Minneapolis mixed marriage - half Swedish and half Norwegian (I've heard all the Swedish jokes from the Norwegian side of the family).  We have one biological daughter who is, of course, a real mix (people always ask her about her racial heritage because they can't quite tell by looking at her) and one adopted daughter from Korea.  So we make an interesting picture as a family with a couple of us who look quite Asian, my blonde wife, and one child of indeterminate parentage.  Great sport!

post #14 of 27

I'm trying to remember what all I have in me...

Not necessarily in any particular order...








Native American Indian


Yeah, that's it. you made me think too hard!!

post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by kaneohegirlinaz View Post

I'm trying to remember what all I have in me...

Not necessarily in any particular order...








Native American Indian


Yeah, that's it. you made me think too hard!!


post #16 of 27

Pohaku, your daughters sound absolutely beautiful. 

I can imagine living in the Midwest, the types of looks your family may get. 

We were at a pretty big attraction here in Tucson a few weeks ago and there was a Japanese couple walking in front of us and a line of people were exiting in the opposite direction. 

Do you know that the line stopped and all of the people turned and stared at the couple, with their mouths agape? 

Maybe I've lived a sheltered life. 

Having lived most of my life with sooooo many other ethnicities is nothing to me!

post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 

The kids have their moments.  Growing out of the drama queen stage.  Thank god. bounce.gif While we have a very substantial minority population here in the Twin Cities (especially Latino, Somali and Hmong, and lots of Korean adopted children), it is the obvious mixed nature of our family that attracts curiosity.  Of course in Hawaii, no one would give us a second look.


Just bought some chicken thighs.  L&L BBQ chicken and ricotta gnocchi for dinner.  Maybe haupia chocolate pie for desert if I get ambitious.

post #18 of 27


Well, I'm going to an old stand by, Hoisin BBQ Chicken thighs with a fresh pot of rice and cucumber kim chee.

Dessert is raspberry cookie bars ala Ree Drummond.

post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 

Do you make your own kim chee?  I've not found a mainland brand that tastes like Hawaii kim chee.  They seem to ferment theirs longer here or something.  Hawaii kine is fresher and crisper IMHO.  Has a brighter flavor.  I finally gave up and make my own periodically.  It's amazing how little you get for the huge amount of cabbage. The other easy one to make is takuan.  I can buy Maui takuan here but it is @ $6.00 a jar.

post #20 of 27

I make my own what I call a quick kim chee.  (I like to "bright", crispy kine)

I found the NOH brand Kim Chee Mix, a powder ;

I cut up an English cucumber (the closest to a Japanese cucumber I can find),

put a good amount of Hawaiian (Sea) Salt all over,

leave it sit for a while, maybe 15 minutes or so,

rinse under cold water and then sprinkle the Noh Kim Chee  Mix all over,

give it a stir and cover. 

Leave for awhile and presto change-o... ONO!!!

Oh yeah, make sure to hold your breath when you sprinkle, that stuff is potent!! 

My husband likes it a little on the spicy side, so I put plenty, braddah!!


(do you know how many words I have had to "add to dictionary" on spell check?)


My husband's friend's family owns NOH, but I've always bought that brand of all kinds!!

And amazingly enoug, I can find it here in the desert.

post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 

We can get Noh here in Minneapolis as well.  Not all of the different seasoning packets, but the basic ones, including kim chee mix.  For many years I used their char siu packets to make my own char siu, but I can buy pretty decent char siu around here now.  The poke mix packet is interesting with the freeze dried ogo.  Not bad actually.  My local fish shop sometimes gets ogo in and I can buy a couple pounds of it and drown myself in poke for awhile.  I used to use the Noh kim chee packet as well - especially when I was in college, but usually do it from scratch now when I'm making a big batch.  I'll have to give it a try again for a quick small batch sometime.  Good idea!  Thank you!  It usually takes me a awhile to get it together to make a big batch of kim chee and using the packet would probably result in my making it more often.

post #22 of 27

Exactly!  You got it!  Just the "quick kine" to go along side a BBQ!  Nice!

Our neighbors here are so amazed, the love it, I was shocked. 

I have a recipe my husband cut out from the Honolulu Star Bulletin (before we left)

for Korean style (mung beans) bean sprouts, fantastic along side as well!! 

We use to get Korean take out almost every other Friday night for dinner, not far from our house in Kaneohe, I SOOOOOO miss that. 

While we were in San Diego to visit with our niece, we looked for Korean, but they didn't have any around her place!!  Just an L&L, I can make Meat Jun!! 

Poke, dude, did you check out my thread on poke? 


post #23 of 27

Oh wowow…all those different varieties of oriental dim sum and bakery that I can only dream about it. you are so lucky

post #24 of 27

How good does that look , HUH??

Have you ever tried to make your own?

The dim sum isn't that difficult, now the baked goods are another store. 

Maybe someone else could advise on that one.

post #25 of 27
Thread Starter 

I like this book, although it must be out of print since the price for a used one is kind of pricy.  Has some baked goods (like the little custard cups), and you can always bake bao instead of steaming them.


I expect that there are other decent books around.


Still working on a sesame/mac nut candy that works right.


Some day, if I get brave, I'll take on toong mai.


post #26 of 27

LOVE those custard cups!  My Mom would have that first when we would go for Dim Sum on Sundays in Downtown Honolulu. 

I’ll have to try that, I’ll look for that book in the library.


Braddah Pohaku, you didn’t tell me if you when spock my Poke thread?


post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 

Nope, nevah when spock um.  (He checks quickly)


OK.  I make poke periodically - usually with ahi or a'u (marlin).  He'e (octopus) is great, but less frequently found here.  Of course, for those who aren't enamored of raw fish, seared poke is a wonderful dish to try.  Just take your poke and quickly sear it in a very hot pan with a little oil (I prefer Asian peanut oil).  I prefer it still "blue" in the center.  Turn it out on a bed of shredded daikon (white radish).  Great on a bed of fresh greens and avocado as well.  Just add cold beer (and a beach) and it's perfect.  If you can't find inamona (kukui nut relish) for your poke, you can fake it with coarsely ground macadamia nuts (with sea salt and chile pepper) - it's pretty close.





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