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