Tim Ho Wan – Hong Kong

Hey Folks. I gotta be honest, it’s been a tough week and tonight’s drive home was harrowing. I’m not ready to discuss it yet since I am still shaken but no worries, I was not hurt or hit in any way. But sometimes, the almost can be just as bad. Stay safe out there folks, get some crazy people out there who will be completely illogical in their actions.

Let’s move onto better news. I’m going on a trip next week, yay! I’ll try to get some posts scheduled up for next week but I haven’t even started to pack yet…so wish me the best! I am heading out to Osaka! My first time there and I think we are going to catch the full bloom of the Sakura there, fingers crossed! Hoping for some great grinds and great deals. For now, I gotta keep trucking with the Hong Kong updates! Today’s post is another restaurant I was dying to try! Tim Ho Wan is “billed as the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant.” Cheap? Good. Michelin-starred? Good. Tim Ho Wan is actually gearing up to open a location in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center SOON! So how was it…?

Black Bean Spareribs on Rice (Chicken Feet Garnish, lol)

Beef Balls

Beef Cheung Fun

Haw Gor (Shrimp Dumpling)

Siu Mai (Pork Hash)

So how was the food? Good! Nothing stellar though, and I still think the dim sum we have Hawaii is the best. Is that weird? That I prefer dim sum made in Hawaii over dim sum in Hong Kong?? Maybe the dim sum in Hawaii is made to suit our taste buds more, but I don’t think there’s enough flavor and depth in these Hong Kong dim sums. Siu mai is usually my favorite dim sum but the Haw Gor was my favorite in this meal – the skin was so light and soft. I am still excited for the Waikiki location to open and would love to give it a try when they do!

Ramen Gashoken, Honolulu, HI

Let’s start this post off with a bit of a fail. One of our student workers told me about this shop so I had to check it out. Any ramen recommendations will be taken seriously and probably immediately. Ramen Gashoken is located in the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk, I wasn’t sure of the location so we walked up and down every single aisle. Every. Single. Aisle. Well guess what? We finally asked someone and they are one of the first shops you see when you walk into the place…haha face palm right? So if you decide to check this place out, you will see it right when you walk in.

Original Ramen + Half Size Kaedama • $11.80 + $1.50

Pork bone broth (a rich and cream soup), original sweet & spicy sauce, char siu (sliced roast pork), green onions, and kikurage (cloud ear mushroom)

So how was it? Good! Not amazing but it was good to me! It actually reminded me a bit of Tenkaippin Ramen before I thought they went downhill. The broth is nice and rich but doesn’t have the same bone marrow taste as Tenkaippin, just a nice thick tonkatsu broth. They use the thin Hakata type noodles and the char siu isn’t anything special. It was a good bowl of ramen but nothing I would have a craving for…in fact, I was wishing for some raw garlic to add to my bowl. I must miss Tenkaippin, maybe I need to give them a shot again? Hmm I just looked them up and they no longer serve Kotteri ramen so maybe not. Gashoken also offers a pesto type ramen, interesting right? That may be my next choice, I always start my experience with their signature/original dish though.

Gyotaku Japanese Restaurant – Honolulu, HI

It has been years since I’ve dined at Gyotaku Japanese Restaurant. Nothing against their food, I actually enjoy their food, it’s just that I don’t think the prices match what you get. Okay, not a great start to the post but the food is actually good. Let’s review…

Hamachi Carpaccio • $16.25

Delicious! Good flavor, I guess the price is about right for Hamachi?

Salad served with Teishoku Sets, yummy wafu dressing

Miso soup served with teishoku sets

Combination Bento (three choice) • $24.95

Chicken Karaage, Nishime, and Misoyaki Salmon. Not my entree but where can you go wrong? I do enjoy the karaage chicken from Gyotaku a lot so thumbs up from me.

Assorted Poke Don & Tenpura • $24.95

My dish! I love their poke don, do I think it’s worth $25? Umm..no. But they season their poke very well and I enjoy it a lot. It’s nice to enjoy this dish once in a while. Their tempura? Nicely battered and fried, always gotta add it on!

Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie • $5.50

One of my favorite desserts of all time! This thing is soooo good. Everything works, looks dense but it is so light…not too sweet. I shared this with my dining companion but I’m sure I could have scarfed it down myself.

They’ve done a great job with their renovations and the food is delicious. To me, it’s just a bit pricey especially for a family-type restaurant but I know I will get ono food when I do go.

Hong Kong Mixed Plate

This was a brand new ice cream from Japan that they sold in Hong Kong supermarkets and of course 7-11. Hong Kong has a lot of Japanese offerings! So what’s so special about this ice cream? Shucks, I wish I had taken a picture of the contents! This is ice cream with mochi balls…and the mochi balls were soft! How do they do it? I tried the Hokkaido Azuki Mochi and it was delicious. If you have a chance, give it a try!

The sushi and sashimi is so cheap in Hong Kong supermarkets – we got this sashimi and sushi set from Market Place by Jasons. The quality was superb and the price was very affordable for the quality.

The next few pictures are from the Hong Kong Lego Store. I was amazed by the lego sculptures of Hong Kong! I am a lover of miniatures and the detail put into these structures is insane. Please view them in awe with me.

Last pic is just of a random night market. One of those night markets you are supposed to haggle prices with…my cousin did pretty well with it. I’m not much of a haggler but then I also don’t buy much…haha.

Papa’s Cafe – Honolulu, HI

My quest to find the best bowl of laksa never ends! Have you ever had laksa? My first obsession was when I watched a clip of someone making the dish on a show called Food Safari. I tell you, all the good food shows are for Asia. Check out this Laksa clip, I’ve been on the search for laksa paste ever since with no luck. I guess I’ll have to settle for restaurants serving laksa. In the past, the only place I knew of that served this dish was Panya. Well guess what? I found another! Papa’s Cafe is located in Chinatown, not in a great location with no parking. Is it worth it? For me, yeah, I will brave Chinatown for it!

Seafood Laska • $11.95

Absolutely delicious! Great broth and you have a choice of noodles, I get it with lai funn (which is the default). I would definitely take this over Panya’s laksa anytime.

Salt and Pepper Calamari • $6.95

Hands down, the best calamari dish I have ever tried. The batter is light and crispy, the salt and pepper seasoning is on point. I love that they serve it atop shredded lettuce. Don’t you love when they place fried food on top of the shredded vegetables and it wilts a bit from the heat and takes on the seasonings? Delish!


Hong Kong Disneyland – Hong Kong

So we went to Disneyland on a weekday on purpose, we didn’t want to deal with huge crowds. Well, while Disneyland still had plenty of people, apparently Hong Kong Disney doesn’t open up all their food carts on weekdays. Why?? I was so disappointed as I walked by one empty cart after another. I could not find a proper turkey or soya chicken leg anywhere. What is a Disney experience without that?

Hong Kong Style Lemon Iced Tea

Red Bean Ice Drink

We had dim sum for breakfast so we weren’t too hungry at Disney. For lunch, we decided to try Explorer’s Club Restaurant. I already picked this place out before even getting to Hong Kong because I wanted to try Hainanese Chicken and Nasi Goreng! Check out the price…and it didn’t even include the drink!

Hainanese Chicken Rice Set • $139 HKD ($18 USD)

Nasi Goreng Set • $139 HKD ($18 USD)

Both dishes were good! Mine was the Nasi Goreng Set, it’s like Indonesian fried rice. You see the white thing behind the fried rice cone thing? It’s like a big fried shrimp chip, it was pretty good.

We came to Hong Kong in early December, perfect. Great weather and all the Christmas decorations were up! Sorry I don’t have much more pictures to share of Disney. I did stay until the Electric Night Parade, that was glorious. We sat on the floor right in front, great seats. Took some videos so that was awesome. What did I enjoy most? The Mickey’s ‘PhilharMagic,’ I’m not usually into 3D movies but this was AMAZING. The graphics was so intense and really did look like it was coming out at me. And the theater was set up so that when there was a water scene, we actually got sprinkled with water…and during the carpet ride, we felt the gushes of wind. I stood in line twice to see that film, and probably would have done it all day. Just magical.

Mixed Plate

Have you folks ever used those food ordering apps? Sometimes, you just don’t want to leave work to pick up lunch so ordering food to your door through an app just sounds right. I work with college students so they are completely on board with ordering off of them! One of the first apps on the scene was Postmates and I had a code for $100 delivery credits. Well, somehow it’s gone. I don’t know how to get it back and it was for Hawaii specifically so I don’t know what happened. Well the app makes it super easy, you pick a restaurant, order your food and pay through the app. Then your delivery person will come to you to deliver your food.

I do not currently recommend it because there is so many glitches with the systems (uber eats and postmates)!!! First, there are constantly no drivers available (at least during lunch time)…and when it finally does come online (after 2 dang hours of checking), if you don’t get your order in fast enough…there are “no drivers” again. When we finally get our food, we’ve had people delivering on bicycles and scooters. Huh? I wasn’t part of the last order but they screwed it up majorly, they ordered three entrees. First delivery and it was only one entree. 1.5 hours later, the last two entrees come and it’s the wrong order. What a nightmare. I don’t see how they could have screwed it up so royally.

I think the only time I would give food delivery a try on my own would be for food from hard to get to restaurants (Waikiki, no parking, etc.) Well…just wanted to share an order I got from Itchy Butt.

Spicy Pork Rice Bowl • $6.00

$6! It’s a big serving AND it comes with a soda. Okay so they never give the right drink, somehow always giving us 7up. Must be their least popular drink. This is actually one of the tastier spicy porks I have tried, doesn’t look great but tastes great. It’s not too spicy too. The total price for me was just under $10 since you have to pay the delivery fee and of course you should tip the driver. The delivery fee varies but for Postmates, it’s about $3.99 per order so depending on how many people are ordering…gotta split that fee!

Next is just a quick sampling of dessert we got from Island Vintage Shave Ice. I forgot what the first one was, sorry! The second one is mine, Lilikoi Moana Bowl. Yes, I know people eat this as a meal but I couldn’t resist it. To me an acai bowl is like a smoothie with a lot of good stuff on top. Shoot, I’m wanting it again…delicious. I tried this acai bowl both at their Ala Moana location and the Waikiki location. I prefer the Ala Moana location.

Have a great weekend folks!

Pho Thinh – Moilili, HI

Pho Thinh is my absolute favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Hawaii. When my friend first told me about this restaurant, all she could boast about was their cleanliness. Is that a factor for me in dining…eh…not necessarily. We all know Chinese restaurants aren’t the cleanest restaurants but they serve up some good grub. Well this restaurant is not only insanely clean (NO REALLY), check the sauce containers on your table. Not a single crumb or crust on their condiments. Vegetables? Meticulously cleaned vegetables…you can just tell they take pride not only in their food but in the full restaurant experience. They usually close for about a month every year to visit home but they took that trip this year already! So go and try them out! They are located in the same place as Wagaya Ramen. Parking can be a bit difficult but it’s worth it.

Large Combination Pho • $11.50

Do you see that clear broth? Don’t let the light clear broth fool you, it is seasoned just right. No overwhelming spices, just delicious food. Ahh…I’ve been on such a pho kick lately that I just want to come back already!

Bun Rieu • $11.50
Vietnamese Crab & Tomato Noodle Soup

This is a specialty dish they serve only on Fridays and Saturdays. I love it and they make it awesome, the best I’ve had from a restaurant here. There is also curly vegetables that accompany this broth. I don’t know the vegetable, I want to say it’s the stalky part of ong choi that they slice and curl up. Anyone can confirm? Shucks, wish I got a pic of it for you folks.

Pork Banh Mi • $8.50

No shame in my game, I got this sandwich too. Yup. I ate my pho and got this too. To be fair to myself, I only ate half and took the rest home, is that okay? Haha…so this was the second time I got it and I liked it both times even if it was different both times. The pork this time had a char siu red look to the edges…I don’t remember that the first time. I want to say the first time, this sandwich came with cilantro but the second time it didn’t. I really really enjoy cilantro which is why I didn’t enjoy the sandwich as much the second time. They also spread a bit of pate on the sandwich but the taste is quite mild so I enjoyed it. You gotta try it!

Tsukada Nojo Hawaii – Honolulu, Hawaii

Tsukada Nojo Hawaii is a fairly new Japanese restaurant in Hawaii. I love the atmosphere of this restaurant, the decorations, servers, food, etc! They have a little parking lot in front of their restaurant but it is very small and it is shared with a sushi restaurant! So unless you can make it there right when they open, parking is a bit risky. Another plus to this restaurant? You can make reservation on Open Table! I wish all restaurants were on Open Table.

Miyazaki Mango Mojito • $9.00
Miyazaki Mango, Rum, Club soda, Mint
Known for their year-round season, Miyazaki mangoes are flown in to create this unique mojito with freshly muddled mint, citrus and rum

Yum, I’ve been here twice and got this drink both times. It’s delicious and refreshing, I just wish the drink was bigger.

Nikumaki Rice Ball • $3.50
miyazaki region’s comfort food: a pork belly-wrapped rice ball in sweet soy ginger sauce, served on green leaf lettuce, served with teriyaki sauce

Okay, we got this dish both times we came here. The first time the rice balls tasted good, the second time, not so much. The meat wrapped around the rice was too tough and the sauce was too salty.

Grilled Skillet Egg • $6.00
plain omelet

Okay this sounds silly but I LOVE THIS DISH. Why is it called a skillet egg? It actually come out in a cast iron skillet and they flip it onto the plate at your table. The egg is soft…souffle-ish and is seasoned like a dashi tamago. The first time we went, we bought two. This time we could only eat one, would have ordered two if we could.

Bijin Nabe • $40.00
chicken-based collagen soup with zucchini, watermelon radish, tofu, romaine lettuce, chinese cabbage, enoki mushroom, abura-age, green onion, watercress, and tsukune meatball

Doesn’t that look…delicious? Haha, I didn’t know what to expect when this was set at our table. But when it boils down, it is a collagen-rich yet light broth.

The bijin pot comes with some chicken tsukune. We ordered kurobuta pork belly as an add-on for our pot. This was delicious! And like other nabes, you can get rice or noodles to finish off your broth. We went with ramen, it was delicious but we were much too full to eat it all. They have such wonderful dining utensils/plates, I think it’s the little details that count and they think of it! I hope you folks get to try this place out!

Din Tai Fung – Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

There aren’t many xiao long bao restaurants in Hawaii, and when I have tried it, I haven’t loved them as much as I thought I would. Din Tai Fung is a big restaurant chain and I have watched countless video features about them! Well, when I got to Hong Kong, I knew I had to give them a try! So here is my experience…

Drunken Chicken in Shaoxing Rice Wine

Oh man, this dish was not good. It tasted like it was only shaoxing rice wine, not just a sauce made with the rice wine. This chicken must have died from alcohol poisoning, the alcohol overpowered everything. We barely ate this dish.

Sautéed Spinach with Supreme Broth and Garlic

My favorite dish of the meal, funny right? A simple vegetable dish sauteed with garlic is one of the ways to my heart. Absolutely recommended.

Noodle with Spicy Sesame and Peanut Sauce

I’m a sucker for noodles. This dish was good but nothing memorable.

Vegetable & Pork Wonton Tossed with Special Sauce

This was probably my second favorite dish of the meal, I love wonton and spicy sauce.

Steamed Black Truffle and Pork Dumplings

Okay this is the funny part of the night. We ordered Xiao Long Bao but totally made a mistake and ordered ALL BLACK TRUFFLE dumplings. It was insanely expensive and my cousin hates truffle so she couldn’t even enjoy it. We were also so full at this point that we couldn’t finish it, you best believe I asked for take out boxes (which they charge for) because I can’t waste truffle and all this food. And I was trying to maneuver between the use of my camera and snapchat so this is the only shot I had of the XLB.