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Chinese Fare With A Tasty Twist

Cover Story

April 22, 2018

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

E-Mein with Live Maine Lobster ($29.95)

From the very moment one steps over the threshold, it’s obvious that Yum Cha Hawaii isn’t an ordinary Chinese restaurant. Located on the ground floor of Uraku Tower on Kapiolani Boulevard, this is a place whose decor, menu and sensibilities combine a deep respect for tradition with bold sophistication — and a playful nod to trends and whimsy.

Somehow, it all comes together, thanks to the creative crew at Yum Cha. With an intriguing assortment of classic, upscale Chinese dishes, including dim sum served all day, the flavors here are both fine and familiar. But there are plenty of surprises, too.

Szechuan Chicken Wings ($12.99)

Yum Cha opened recently in January, occupying the space that was formerly L’Uraku Restaurant. The establishment boasts two features rarely found in urban eateries: a pretty outdoor seating area with white wrought-iron tables and chairs, and free self-parking.

Inside, the lines are clean and classic, with white walls, tablecloths, light fixtures, a well-stocked bar with lots of mirrors, and a handsome rock wall for texture. Enormous windows provide plenty of light as well as a bright, sweeping view of a courtyard and the busy street beyond.

Turnip Cake with XO Sauce ($6.99)

“We’re set back from Kapiolani, far enough that you can still see activity, but you’re able to enjoy the calmness of it,” says manager Eva Kwok. “There’s a ‘zen thing’ going on! It’s nice to have the large windows and high ceilings. We’re in a beautiful location.”

The serene surroundings nicely compliment Yum Cha’s cuisine, and highlight some of the bolder offerings. Featured appetizers include Shrimp in Taro Blankets ($5.99), a cozy trio of crustaceans fried in taro batter and charmingly presented on a bed of lettuce.

In Turnip Cake with XO Sauce ($6.99), the little cakes are dressed with a spicy Hong Kong chili sauce, piquant with peppers.

Shrimp in Taro Blankets ($5.99)

The Crispy Taro Nest ($4.99) includes two pretty mini baskets holding delec-table puffs made with sour cream and crabmeat, garnished with tobiko and chives.

For a dish that truly celebrates the very best in Chinese haute cuisine, the E-Mein with Live Maine Lobster ($29.95) is a gorgeous dish, with special egg noodles, sliced black mushrooms, Chinese peas and tender morsels of sweet lobster. “This noodle dish celebrates longevity and good health,” Kwok explains. “Good to have for Mom!”

Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants around the country, and Yum Cha is getting ready to celebrate with a menu filled with tempting goodies that everybody in the family will enjoy.

Crispy Taro Nest with crabmeat ($4.99)

Nine delicious courses (see sidebar for details), with a mouthwatering variety of textures and flavors, include the perfect finale for a spectacular meal: your choice of Yum Cha’s famous custard cream Piggy Buns, or a refreshing Mango Parfait (also available a la carte for $4.99). Reservations are highly recommended.

Mango Parfait (on the Mother’s Day menu; $4.99 a la carte)

Jazz Things Up

Those who are just discovering Yum Cha Hawaii, and those who already adore this stylish place, will be thrilled to hear that the restaurant is now hosting live jazz each weekend. On Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m., a small ensemble will provide harmonious accompaniment for Yum Cha’s elegant cuisine. Each second, third and fourth Friday of the month, listen for The Blue Dragon, featuring keyboardist Gary Pak and bassist Jeremy Park.

Mother’s Day at Yum Cha, Sunday May 13

• Minced Squab in Lettuce Wrap
• Dried Scallop Soup
• Peking Duck with Bun
• Fresh Fish Fillet with Vegetables
• Sauteed Beef Rolls with Asparagus
• Honey Walnut Shrimp
• Pot Roast Pork with Mui Choy
• E-Mein with Crab Meat, Shredded
Mushroom & Vegetable
• Piggy Buns or Mango Parfait

$388 per table of 8-10, seatings at 9:30 and 11 a.m., and 12:30 and 2 p.m.; dinner service begins at 5:30 p.m. Complimentary valet parking is offered.

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