Char Hung Sut
My sincere apologies for not updating yesterday's post and for posting this without any text. Tomorrow will be my last day at work before my upcoming trip to Southeast Asia, therefore, I should have time tomorrow night to update both posts.
I thought I'd present the photos for your enjoyment. Thank you for your understanding.
By the way, this one's for Clinton over there in California. A displaced local who misses the ma tai soo from Char Hung Sut.
It's been a while since I've been to Char Hung Sut. I guess it's because I never really leave home early enough to get here before going into the office. Today, I had a short break at about 9:00 am, and since it wasn't raining, I thought a short walk would do me good.
Located in Chinatown across the street from Mei Sum Dim Sum, Char Hung Sut serves local-style dim sum. Sneaking in one of the doors off to the side, you can see the folks here hard at work. Looked to me like they were making some ma tai soo.
After walking through the less used entrance, I stood in line behind a few people waiting to order their food and others waiting for their orders to be filled. If I had come at about 6:00 am, there would have been about 5 times as many people crowding this little shop. That's how popular this place is.
Since I had agreed to pick up some food for a co-worker as well, I decided to get two of each of our favorites. I ordered the following (clockwise from left) -- manapua (US$.85 each), pepeiao (US$.50 each), pork hash (US$.50 each) and the famous ma tai soo (US$.50 each).
The first thing I ate was the ma tai soo.
I'm not really sure what is in it, but it seemed to be pork and water chestnuts (?) among other things. The filling is a little crunchy, so I'm only guessing here. The outer pastry is baked, and can be a bit flakey, but it's just a little "doughy" near the middle where the filling is and on the bottom of the pastry itself. Nice and hot, this was delicious! This is probably my favorite dim sum item from here.
This is the manapua.
Steamed and filled with shredded pork, this is nothing like what you'd get in any other dim sum house around the country. Manapua is a Hawaii original. I'm not really certain of the origin of the word, but it's been speculated that it was taken from the Hawaiian words, mea (thing), 'ono (delicious), and pua'a (pig). Not sure if this is quite the case, but I'll go with that explanation for now.
The first thing you'll notice about the manapua is the size. Unlike traditional char siu bao, manapua are huge. I would say that it's about 3-4 times larger than the char siu bao that is served in traditional dim sum houses. The "bun" here is also different. Soft, fluffy and a little chewy, this is best eaten hot. The pork filling is lean and flavorful.
Here's the pepeiao.
Pepiao (Hawaiian for ear, or the name used for "wood ear fungus") is steamed and is filled with pork. It got it's name because of it's ear like shape, although to me, it looks more like a pig's snout.
Pork hash (not shown individually) is the same as siu mai. It's steamed and has a filling of ground pork and other ingredients. Both of these items are as good as you're going to get anywhere else in the state.
Char Hung Sut is frequently at the top of most people's lists for "best" manapua...I can't argue there. This place has been open for more than 50 years, and the number of people that crowd this small shop every morning, are a testament to the great food and great value that it offers.
Char Hung Sut
64 North Pauahi Street