Friday, July 17, 2009

Best Chinese Food on the Windward Side?

I was asked this morning which restaurant had the best Chinese food on the Windward side of Oahu, in Hawaii. I have an incomplete opinion, as I have pretty much settled on two restaurants as having the best. I invite others to respond with their opinions. For example, many people think that Kin Wah restaurant in Kaneohe is the best, but I haven't been there for a long time, so I can't give an informed opinion.

Anyway, I think for everyday Chinese food, my favorite is the New Mui Kwai Chop Suey Restaurant in Kailua: 132 Oneawa St, Kailua, (808) 262-7800 (next to Checker Auto Parts and near the Jack-in-the-Box). The prices are reasonable, and the food is very good. Try the shrimp with crispy garlic (it's not on the menu, but it is on the additional menu items page underneath the glass table tops), anything with black bean sauce, the beef sin choy (sliced beef with a kind of Chinese vegetable prepared in a sour/sweet sauce, vaguely reminiscent of bread pickles, but better), crispy gau gee (long dumplings, deep fried), and the Singapore style noodles (rice noodles in a somewhat spicy, curry based preparation). Note: I am only referring to the Kailua location, as I have not tried the other locations of this small chain.

For a special occasion, Pah Ke's Restaurant in Kaneohe is the place: 46-018 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, (808) 235-4505. There are really two types of food prepared there: standard Chinese fare and creative, contemporary takes on Chinese food. The thing to focus on is the page that says Hawaiian-Chinese specialties, such as the scallops with deep fried spinach, the asparagus beef, and other great choices. A great off of the menu item is the Chinese "Nachos," which is a bed of seasoned mashed potatoes with deep fried wonton skins, sweet potato chips, etc., and surrounded by triangles of deep fried wonton skins topped with a little guacamole, Chinese roast duck, hoisin sauce, and scallions (you usually have to order these in advance).

The best thing to do is to is to speak to Raymond - the very personable owner - in advance and order a special menu or special dishes. Every time I have done so, it has been fabulous. My niece had her wedding rehearsal dinner there and we got an amazing banquet, with some of the dishes I mentioned above plus others. I will never forget the whole fish served two ways. Even though the wedding reception was at the Halekulani Hotel, and the meal was impeccable, my family members still rave that the Pah Ke's dinner was the most memorable and still ranks among the best meals they have ever had.

Also, don't skip dessert. Raymond was once the pastry chef at the Halekulani and his desserts are truly outstanding. For example, the soy milk custard sounds unappetizing and aimed for the health conscious (which anytime I see health conscious menu items, I usually interpret it as insipid and bland). In Raymond's hands, it is opulent, and absolutely delicious - not to mention vegan, too! But all of his desserts are good (you won't believe what he does with chocolate).

One final note: neither restaurant is very fancy looking, but the food is great, and that's the most important thing.

Grace and aloha,


P. S. In Acts 2, the writer (Luke) specifies that the early church people focused on four things: Apostles' teaching, prayers, fellowship, and the breaking of bread. To me, that means that eating food with others is spiritual! I definitely agree. After all, the word "companion" means "the one I eat bread with." Or in the case of this post, the one I eat great Chinese food with. I definitely have grown closer to everyone I've eaten with at these restaurants. And after a great dinner in places like this, I just thank God for delicious food - it is unquestionably evidence of God's love for us!


Anonymous said...

I agree with Pah ke. We went there a few months ago, and while it is pricy it is FANTASTIC. I have a lot of restaurants I really enjoy, but this one really stood out to me.

Mike said...

I have to say that New Mui Kwai is a nice place to grab lunch with your friends after church. However, if you want an evening feast, Pah Ke is the place to be. The Chinese Hawaiian dishes on the menu are fantastic. My family and I tried it after Pastor Tom suggested it to someone else. I highly recommend you try it for yourselves.