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Grindz of the Day: Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery, Hawaiian Airlines 1st Class & Mai Tai’s


Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery: Baked Charsiu Manapua, Pork Hash, Black Sugar Gin Dui, Rice Cake and Custard Pie (not tart)

Going for a record THREE consecutive “Grindz of the Day”, we revisit Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery on Maunakea Street in the heart of Chinatown Honolulu. Here for some Dim Sum Omiyage to take to ohana on the mainland. Namely they always request Baked Manapua, where while they usually ask specifically for those from Chun Wah Kam, being I recently discovered how SUPERIOR the Baked Manapua are at Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery, I recommended these instead.

There you see a cross-cut of the Black Sugar Gin Dui on the left ($1.25 each) and Baked Charsiu Manapua ($1.65 each). Not only are Sing Cheong Yuen’s dim sum considerably cheaper than the “Big Three” Manapua places, they also have a variety that can’t be beat, meaning, far beyond your typical takeout dim sum. Seriously, this has got to be the most comprehensive Chinese bakery on Oahu. Its only drawback is parking, where if you don’t have someone dropping you off to run in, you’ll most likely have to hit the pay municipal lot across the street, as parallel street parking on bustling and tight Maunakea Street (one-way) is usually taken up; notably mostly with HPD cars on this particular block.


Sing Cheong Yuan’s Pork Hash (95 cents each) are HUGE, being almost as big as a racquette ball!

I swear, EVERYTHING from Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery is awesome, as far as I can tell from my admittedly “amateur” palate for Chinese food and baked goods.

Their baked manapua is generously filled with chopped (not shredded) pork mixed with green onions, coated with the most deliciously sweet and gelatinous charsiu sauce that makes the filling super moist. While the texture of the baked bun far exceeds even my other favorite manapua bun, the steamed version from Libby’s. To top that off, their price is almost $1 less each than Chun Wah Kam’s baked manapua.

As depicted in scale to my hand in the photo above, their Pork Hash (95 cents each) are HUGE, with just two of them probably enough to fill most folks up for lunch. I LOVE their Pork Hash! They’re perfectly steamed with just the right amount of moisture, and a basic mixture of just pork and sparse pieces of green onion here and there, while the sort of “eggy” tasting steamed Wonton wrapper is just enough to hold it all together. The only drawback as someone mentioned on Yelp, is this place doesn’t offer Chinese Mustard and Shoyu to dip the Pork Hash in,which for me is requisite. So keep that in mind.

The Black Sugar Gin Dui is also incredible, where if you’ve never tried it, think of a deep-fried mochi ball that’s coated with with Sesame and filled with a sugary Azuki Bean, except not quite with the bean-paste flavor. I’m

Ditto for their Rice Cake, which is super delicate and “fluffy”, with just the right balance of sweetness. A perfect finish to the savory Manapua and Pork Hash.


Hawaiian Airlines First Class dinner service by Chef Andrew Le of Pig & the Lady

Next up, we’re on Hawaiian Airlines for their First Class service to the Pacific Northwest, where Chef Andrew Le of the Pig & the Lady is the current featured guest chef. You may recall I covered Hawaiian Airlines’ first foray into featured guest chefs for their first class service, who at the time was Chef Jon Matsubara of Hyatt Waikiki’s Japengo.


Hawaiian Airlines First Class dinner service by Chef Andrew Le of Pig & the Lady: Green Papaya and Chilled Shrimp Salad


Hawaiian Airlines First Class dinner service by Chef Andrew Le of Pig & the Lady: Farmers Market Vegetable Curry with Pumpkin, Sugar Snap Peas, Baby Carrot and Eggplant, served with a warm Baguette


Hawaiian Airlines First Class dinner service by Chef Andrew Le of Pig & the Lady: Guava Cheesecake


The aircraft banking a hard left at  7 G’s. nah, just kidding. lol 

And? Diner K rates everything from Chef Andrew Le’s Hawaiian Airlines menu 5 SPAM Musubi!


Mai Tai’s Ala Moana Blackened Ahi Pupu Platter. $12

Finally, we’re back at Mai Tai’s Ala Moana for a Blackened Ahi pupu platter shared among friends. Which I must say, I’m very pleased with how my Note 5 (not the Note 7!) is taking foodie shots. Much better than my Note 4 did, and sometimes even rivaling my Canon S100 “prosumer” point and shoot  camera. Still, sometimes I get out-of-focus shots, like this pic with Randy & Kanoe, a a singer and guitarist duo playing there this past Tuesday night….


Randy and Kanoe with Pomai, a singer & guitarist duo who performed at Mai Tai’s this past Tuesday Night ~ 10.11.16


Kanoe & Randy, a singer & guitarist duo perform at Mai Tai’s Ala Moana ~ 10.11.16

Kanoe & Randy in concert at Mai Tai’s – Final Set

14 thoughts on “Grindz of the Day: Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery, Hawaiian Airlines 1st Class & Mai Tai’s

  • October 13, 2016 at 4:26 pm
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    Gonna have to try and see if we can get to Sing Cheong Yuan next time we’re on Oahu.  Love me some baked manapua and half moon.  Nothing even compares to Oahu manapua here on Maui.  Is their char siu manapua really $1 less each than Chun Wah Kam?  I think Chun Wah Kam’s is around $2 each?

    Reply
  • October 14, 2016 at 1:19 am
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    Pomai, my cousin in San Francisco, had co worker whom she gave some

    Hawaiian style dim sums from did not like it saying did not taste like one

    she know like from Hong Kong or San Francisco.   Well my cousin told her

    off and said these dim sum are special for it had history of early Chinese

    how they ate it.  Rustic style is reason why I love it very much.

     

    Reply
  • October 14, 2016 at 9:44 am
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    @ David ~ I just called them both to confirm the EXACT CURRENT PRICES (as of 10.14.16), and it’s as followed:

    BAKED MANAPUA
    • Chun Wah Kam – $2.25 each
    • Sing Cheong Yuan – $1.65 each

    Price difference – 60 cents

    @ Amy ~  Tell your cousins in San Fran to ask them for, or about “Cake Noodle”, then see their reaction. Most likely they’ll be like, “WTF is “Cake Noodle?!” ;-)

    Reply
    • October 14, 2016 at 11:09 am
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      Thanks!  Will have to check them out if we’re in the area next time we’re on Oahu.  We usually pick up from Royal Kitchen to bring back but the past couple of times our flight’s been at night, so we’ve picked up at Chun Wah Kam because they’re open later than Royal Kitchen.

      Reply
    • October 15, 2016 at 4:49 am
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      Pomai, there no cake noodle but Hong Kong style fried noodle which they

      fried like patty like each side and serve with what ever topping you like..

      Baked manapua in San Francisco cost around 1.20 to 1.65 .

      Reply
  • October 14, 2016 at 1:22 pm
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    I know nothing about the best. Royal Kitchen is very good.

    Duck, I know. Chichen I know, The best is Nam Fong, Mauna Kea Street.

    Reply
  • October 14, 2016 at 4:53 pm
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    @ pat – Of course “The best” can be subjective. However in my personal opinion, after trying all the main places on numerous occasions (Char Hung Sut, Libby’s, Chun Wah Kam, Royal Kitchen), Sing Cheong Yuen’s Baked Manapua has them all beat. Best bun, best Charsiu filling, best price.

    Some folks on Yelp claim Nam Fong has “the best” roast pork and roast charsiu. I actually like Chun Wah Kam’s Roast Pork (the location by Ala Moana). They really give the fatty part a nice “Lechon-like” crisp, and the pork is super juicy and tasty, seasoned perfectly. Another plus, is Chun Wah Kam gives complimentary Chinese mustard and shoyu at a self-serve station.

    Oh, Pat, BTW, how did you like that Ox & Palm “SITA” Camp Luncheon Meat? I remember you saying you were gonna’ get some the last time you flew to Oahu. I think it’s pretty good stuff!

    @ David – Trust me, when you folks walk in Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery for the first time (just a block down from Royal Kitchen on Maunakea Street), you’ll be like a kid in a candy store. So many ono ‘kine Chinese treats! Folks say their dried fruits are super good. They’re also known for their Peanut Candy and Moon Cakes. Make sure you get at least a couple Gin Dui (I’d get 4 or more if I were you). Winnahz!  For best selection, try get there as early as possible (like before 10am).

    Reply
    • October 15, 2016 at 1:09 pm
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      Sita reminded me of scrapple. A  pork dish from the new england area. Pretty good, but different.

      Reply
      • October 20, 2016 at 10:07 am
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        I love me some Scrapple!  Since my grandparents lived in Pennsylvania Dutch country (Lancaster County), I’ve had scrapple many times.  When I was younger I didn’t really care for it but once I hit my young adult years, I started enjoying it.  When we visited, I’d go to Yoder’s and pick me up a slice of scrapple.  I’d then slice that slice into smaller pieces to fry (in a cast iron pan) for breakfast every morning.  I’d fry it until it had a nice brown crispness to it, yet still soft in the middle.  Paired with eggs, yum!

        Reply
  • October 15, 2016 at 1:53 pm
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    Pomai,

     

    After reading your review I had to try Sing Cheong Yuan so I went this morning and got some baked manapua, pork hash, half moon, and coconut jin dui.  Good stuff!  The pork hash tastes like the steamed pork hash they serve in Chinese restaurants, like there’s some fishcake mixed in.  There’s lots of other stuff I want to try, so I’ll definitely go there again.

    Reply
  • October 20, 2016 at 5:16 am
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    @ pat – Ah, “Scrapple”.

    @ Kyle K – Ah, that’s the key ingredient I left out: FISH CAKE. Very important binder” and flavoring component in authentic Pork Hash! And it’s not the Japanese fish cake, that’s steamed into a block, it’s the Chinese style, that’s sort of gray in color and comes in a tub. I think you can only find that type of fish cake in Chinatown.

    Reply
    • October 20, 2016 at 12:33 pm
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      BTW, Chinese fishcake and real Hawaiian lomi lomi oio are essentially indistinguishable.

      Reply
  • October 24, 2016 at 9:23 am
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    Went to try SCY yesterday and the half moon, jung, baked and steamed manapua was good but the taro cake isn’t as good as Char Hung Sut.  There was no chunks of taro just mashed taro mixed with rice flour so it lacked color and texture.  The topping was good and was the only plus. Will try the other goodies on the next trip.

    Reply
    • October 26, 2016 at 8:32 am
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      Good to read that the Chinese places are again making taro cakes.   Not sure when it was – maybe a year ago, when none of them were making taro cakes.   In fact I stopped looking as it sounded like they were not going to make taro cakes ever again.

       

      Reply

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