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Chinatown Eats: Tai Pan Dim Sum

Well that was a long and much needed blogging break. Hope you folks all had a wonderful 2010 holiday season and are off to a good start for the new year 2011.

Speaking of which, our office gang celebrated yet another holiday festivity several weeks ago enjoying some Cantonese grindz at Tai Pan Dim Sum in the Chinese Cultural Plaza. Where, needless to say is a MECCA of Chinese restaurants, including Fook Lam, another favorite spot for Dim Sum, and Legend Seafood, just to name a few.

On this lunch hour rush visit, we sort of just “landed in” on Tai Pan, not really sure which specific dim sum restaurant to settle on, since there’s so many to choose in the area. Yet we were lucky to snag a table here without any reservations, even as busy as they seem to usually be, which I suppose would be the equivalent of getting a front-row parking stall in a packed shopping mall on Christmas Eve. Score!

Tai Pan Dim Sum is located in Chinatown Honolulu on the ground floor of the Chinese Cultural Plaza, in the center part nearest to Nu’uanu stream (a.k.a. the river), right across Hifumi Japanese Restaurant (go figure). There’s plenty of validated parking in the CCP structure that costs just $2 flat rate with validation.

Tai Pan certainly packs a crowd, where as I mentioned earlier, we were very fortunate that a table opened up for us upon walking in without a second’s wait!…

Without further ado, time to check out the menu, where the writing’s written on the wall…

Those are their “specials”, while here’s Tai Pan’s regular menu, which they have placed all around under the clear plexiglass covering each round table in the joint…

There’s a display case alongside the entrance of the restaurant showcasing a number of their dim sum specialties, where these are what were featured on this visit…

Dim Sum restaurants are all about speed and volume, and Tai Pan’s certainly equipped to turn ‘n burn..

Here’s the kitchen line where they have a few items prepped and ready to hit the steamers ‘n woks…

Now for our Dim Sum selections of the day, beginning with Baked Char Siu Buns, a.k.a. Baked “Manapua” ($2.45)….

Steamed Char Siu Buns, a.k.a. Steamed “Manapua” ($2.45)….

Seafood Siu Mai (pork hash with a sizable shrimp tail stuffed in the center; $2.45)….

Steamed Shrimp Dumpling (Har Gau; $2.45)…

Steamed Chives Dumpling ($2.45)…

Char Siu Look Fun Roll ($4.00)…

Chicken Feet with Chinese Herb Soup ($3.20)…

Chicken Feet with Black Bean Sauce ($2.45)…

Eggplant stuffed with Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce ($?)…

Deep-Fried Bean Curd Shrimp Roll ($2.45)…

Custard Tart…

Chinese Green Tea…

That’s it. Time to plate ’em up and whack sum dim sum…

And how was it? Everything was excellent. Believe it or not, one of my favorites was the Chicken Feet with Chinese Herb Soup, which in fact was the first time I’ve ever tried chicken feet. Good stuff! “Cartilage-ee” good and kinda’ fatty. Kinda’ reminds me of turkey tail. I also loved their pork hash, which had a nice-sized shrimp tail stuffed in the center, which added a nice flavor and texture contrast to the also-flavorful ground pork.

And you wanna’ talk excellent manapua, I think Tai Pan’s Steamed Char Siu Bun and Baked Char Siu Bun may have Libby’s, Chun Wah Kam and Char Hung Sut beat! Seriously, Tai Pan’s chunky (not ground) char siu pork filling tastes better, IMO.

I also really enjoyed the Steamed Chives Dumpling, Char Siu Look Fun Roll and Shrimp-stuffed Eggplant. EVERYTHING was ono, with not one thing on the table I didn’t like.

As busy as the place was, service was quick and friendly, with our entire dim sum order  arriving literally within minutes and water glasses kept topped throughout the meal, as well as our hot green tea pot.

There was just enough leftovers where I was able to make myself a little “doggie bag” for later…

Notice how I strategically placed the black bean chicken foot for a more dramatic, visually stunning exciting presentation. lol

And check this out: that entire dim sum spread which literally covered our table with dishes and steamer baskets came out out to just $55 to feed the five of us. Now THAT’S what you call one awesome “Pake” deal of a dim sum meal! lol

Tai Pan Dim Sum
100 N. Beretania St. (Chinese Cultural Plaza)
Honolulu, HI 96817

Tel. (808) 599-8899

Tai Pan Dim Sum menu (88kb PDF documment; 2 pages)

The Tasty Island rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Two other Dim Sum restaurants also located in the Chinese Cultural Plaza:
Legend Seafood menu
(248kb PDF document; 2 pages)
Fook Lam Seafood menu (418kb PDF document; 2 pages)

For today’s bonus content, we have Hopia (not to be confused with Hawaiian Haupia), a Filipino bean-filled flaky crust pastry dessert that’s pretty much the equivalent of Japanese Manju and Chinese Moon Cake…

According to Diner E, he bought them from the “Fiesta Market” in Waipahu, although he thinks they may have been made by Nanding’s  Bakery(famous for their Spanish Rolls).

How is it? Masarap (delicious/ono/oishii)! What made them especially good was they were still warm and tasted fresh-baked, so the delicate, golden flaky crust just melted in the mouth, while also having an almost buttery-savory flavor to it, including the slightly sweet and smooth-textured azuki bean filling. If you’re  a manju fan, you’ll dig Hopia.

26 thoughts on “Chinatown Eats: Tai Pan Dim Sum

  • January 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm
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    The herbal soup is something not all customers should try due it still medicinal. I try it sometime ago and got blood pressure gone up and heart beating fast from it. In Taiwan many people came down ill from herbal soups serve in restaurants and health dept is trying to stop restaurants from using this medicinal herbs it food.

    Reply

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