A Gathering Place for Chinese Comfort Food

Cover Story Features

March 31, 2013

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

It’s 8 a.m. at Nice Day Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Liliha Square Shopping Plaza and loyal patrons have already formed a line at the pick-up window outside the restaurant, all to get their hands on the restaurant’s impressive selection of dim sum dishes that are available for takeout daily.

Fast-forward to noon, and the buzz of boisterous chatter from eager diners has gravitated indoors and permeates the 150-seat establishment accented by Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Servers dressed in traditional Chinese-style blouses and black slacks roam the restaurant pushing carts filled with dim sum delicacies, such as Steamed Char Siu Buns, Look Funn Rolls, Har Gau, Shrimp Siu Mai, Custard Tarts and more. And that’s not all. Nice Day also boasts a menu that includes close to 200 a la carte options served family-style.

“There’s more than 30 items on our dim sum menu,” confirms restaurant manager Shirley Cheng. “That’s what brings a lot of people in, but most customers order from the regular menu, too.”

There’s proof in the belief that good food brings people together, and Nice Day Chinese Seafood Restaurant specializes in Cantonese-style fare, with some of the most highly requested items being Garlic Deep-Fried Chicken ($12.95), House Special Garlic Fried Rice ($10.95), Long Beans with Minced Pork ($9.95), Steamed White Fish with Ginger and Onion ($11.95) and Mixed Vegetables with Tofu ($8.95).

“Everything is made fresh,” Cheng explains. “Garlic Deep-Fried Chicken is popular because people like the red pepper, diced green onion and crushed garlic chips that we sprinkle over the meat. It brings a lot of flavor to the dish.

“Another tasty dish is Long Beans with Minced Pork that we stir-fry. It’s been a top-seller for a long time.”

It’s 8 a.m. at Nice Day Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Liliha Square Shopping Plaza and loyal patrons have already formed a line at the pick-up window outside the restaurant, all to get their hands on the restaurant’s impressive selection of dim sum dishes that are available for takeout daily.

According to Cheng, House Special Garlic Fried Rice also is considered a staple, and pairs well with an assortment of entrees. In House Special Garlic Fried Rice, morsels of char siu, shrimp, carrots, green peas, onions and egg are blended effortlessly into the tasty rice — always a perfect addition to any meal.

And Steamed White Fish with Ginger and Green Onion seems to appear constantly on every table, so Dining Out asked Cheng the secret behind this dish’s popularity.

“The meat is very tender,” she quickly responds. “And the seasoning is very good.”

Quite simple actually, the fish is doused in a special shoyu sauce and garnished with fresh slivers of ginger and green onion, which give way to an enticing aroma and a treat for any palate.

Nice Day Chinese Seafood Restaurant also appeals to every appetite, especially non-meat eaters, by offering vegetarian entrees such as Mixed Vegetables with Tofu, which features a myriad of vegetables (that can change daily) mixed with cubes of fried tofu.

“We’ve been in business for almost five years, and we’re very fortunate that we’ve been consistently busy. We serve Chinese comfort food and a lot of locals enjoy it,” Cheng says with a smile.

Despite the packed premises, the restaurant staff remains calm under pressure, unfazed by the full house. It seems as if they’ve got it down to a science.

“Our staff is used to this. They work quickly,” Cheng adds. It’s evident that Cheng and the entire Nice Day ohana want to make sure that the dining experience lives up to the restaurant’s name.

“We want our customers to always have a nice day,” she states.

Nice Day Chinese Seafood Restaurant also is able to accommodate catering requests and large parties.

“We have special dinner menus created especially for larger groups, and we have private rooms where guests can hold gatherings,” Cheng says.

Nice Day Chinese Restaurant

1425 Liliha St., Honolulu
524-1628
Open daily, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

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