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Dim Sum, The word translates to touch the heart in English, and these little snacks will do so. Dim sum are normally bite size packaged steamed snacks. There is also the baked and fried varieties. 1000's of different types exist as one can add anything one wishes inside the wraps or dough.
The popular three local versions in Hawaii are the char siu pork bao called manapua, manapua is a lareger versions of the bite sized bao; the simple ground pork and sometimes with shrimp or added pork hash and the half moon or pepeiao. The last is made with ground pork and water chestnut filling and the different names comes from the shape formed. Pepeiao is the Hawaiian word for ear and half moons look exactly as named.
The memories of a child chasing down the manapua van for these cost friendly treats as well as vanilla soda, almond cookies and shave ice. The vans would drive down the neighborhoods playing their familiar tune on an PA system so you would know who was who without leaving the TV set or from playing in the yard. Its such a good business the manapua men will offer regulars credit.
As a visitor to the islands, it will not be necessary to chase down the manapua man in his classic manapua van. There are many shops (a bunch around Chinatown) located on Oahu that specialize in dim sum only.
The number one spot in the islands for local dim sum is Char Hung Sut located in Chinatown. 64 N. Pauahi Street in Honolulu/Downtown. open 6 days a week closed on Tuesdays from 5:30 till 2:00 and Saturdays closing at 12:30. Phone order is the best way to achieve the dim sum. Walk ins are welcome but there will be a line sometimes a very long one, so it's all about timing or again making that phone order. Phone (808-538-3335) the earlier is the better here. If you're flying to another island let them know on the phone, they prepare the boxes stronger and everyone on the plane gets jealous from the steamed smell that fills the cabin. The flight attendants know by the color of the boxes and smells which shop you attended.
Other local hot spots are Libby Manapua located at 410 Kalihi Street (808-841-2253) just off Nimitz Highway before Sand Island if coming from town. Easily recognizable by their pink take out boxes. Open Tuesdays Through Sundays from 6 am till 2pm closed on Mondays.
Then there's Royal Kitchen
with its popular baked Manapua - a sweeter variety. Located at 100 N.
Beretania St. in Chinatown (Cultural Plaza) ph: 808-524-4461
For traditional, Chinese style dim sum, Honolulu has many popular dim sum restaurants, some will serve off menus while others use the traditional carts. Popular dim sum restaurants in Honolulu include, Legend Seafood, Fook Lam, Mei Sum Dim Sum in Chinatownand Royal Garden in the Ala Moana Hotel. Please note that in the restaurants dim sum is considered a breakfast and lunch item and many will not serve dim sum past lunch time, check for hours.