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What's For Lunch?
What's for Lunch?

Draw a crowd and then some with dim sum

By Rachel Breit Photos By Rachel Breit
May 18, 2014

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If your workplace is anything like our Dining Out office, then you have a pretty good idea what happens when a takeout box is placed anywhere inside the “free for all” area. Whether it’s a conference table, counter space, a desk or just about any flat surface, the prospect of what’s in the box is enough to draw people from all corners of the office. And if what’s inside is dim sum, there’s sure to be a happy reception.

With hand-formed dim sum made to order, The Mandalay is the perfect place to source the crowd-pleasing lunch items. Put the following on your list and get on everyone’s good side. Just be sure to call your order in a day ahead of time. (Of course, dining in is an option as well. The Mandalay’s elegant dining hall, complete with soft piano music, is a downtown haven.)

Baked to a golden brown, tender Baked Barbecue Pork Bun ($3.50 for 3, $13 for a dozen) has proven itself a requisite for a delicious dim sum meal. The bun’s filling starts with marinaded pork. Soy sauce, salt, pepper, oyster sauce, sugar and a touch of sesame oil permeate the meat with flavor before it’s roasted in a hot oven, minced and then stuffed inside a bready dough. In Chinese, the buns are called char siu bao. We also know them by their local moniker: manapua, a word that comes from the shortening of the Hawaiian term mea ono puaa, or pork pastry.

Next, taste the same pork in a different way, this time enveloped in a flaky crust. Barbecue Pork Pastry ($3.50 for 3, $13 for a dozen) showcases the meat’s succulence with juices that ooze out during baking. A sprinkling of sesame seeds adds the final touch to the finger-food.

Shanghai Dumplings ($3.95 for 3, $14.50 for a dozen) stuffed with minced pork and won bok bursts with flavor and moisture. “You have to be careful when you bite it because it’s so juicy,” says amiable, soft spoken Linda Chan, owner of The Mandalay. The dumplings are steamed in their own baskets, which gives them their characteristic delicate chewiness.

The yellow-tinged crinkly topping on Baked Sweet Cream Buns ($3.50 for 3, $13 for a dozen) signal a sweet treat. Filled with luscious custard and crowned with a thin sheet of sugary dough, the fluffy buns are an undeniable people pleaser.

Though not the type of dessert that can be eaten by hand as easily, you’ll still want to get a spoonful of the creamy Steamed Milk with Egg Whites ($3.50). The luxurious snow-white custard made with heavy whipping cream, egg whites and a touch of sugar that’s steamed to a soft-set pudding is the perfect ending to a morale-boosting lunch shared among colleagues.

The Mandalay

1055 Alakea St., Honolulu
525-8585
Daily, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.