Feeling Good With Dim Sum, Chinese Favorites

Ali Carte Columns

June 9, 2013

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

It’s often said that the simple things in life bring the most joy. When it comes to the pure elation a warm, yummy meal brings, Lisa Lum and Sang Chun are clearly on to something. The co-owners opened Happy Day Chinese Restaurant in Kaimuki 12 years ago, only to watch their base of loyal patrons grow with time. In the spirit of sharing their blissful menu of Hong Kong-style cuisine, the duo opened another location on Liliha street in 2009, and named it Nice Day Chinese Restaurant.

Home to some of the best char siu, roast pork and roast duck around, Nice Day also is known for its dim sum selection. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, the expansive main dining room comes alive with the exciting hustle and bustle of dim sum carts weaving through huge round tables filled with hungry regulars.

The recipe for having such a “nice day,” according to Lum, is as simple as putting some love into the food. “It’s all hand-made. Every day, the dim sum cook comes at five o’clock (in the morning) to start preparing,” she says.

Among the bestselling items are Half Moon ($2.68) — delightful dumplings filled with vegetables, shrimp and pork — and absolutely scrumptious Shumai ($2.85), a must for locals.

“My favorites are Half Moon and Shumai because they are very clean and they taste very good,” adds Lum.

The eatery’s slew of friendly servers also will be pleased to drop off shrimp dumplings called Har Gau ($2.85) and Deep Fried Taro ($2.85) at your table.

Or there are Chicken Buns ($2.68), which offer the fluffiest of manapua-style buns filled with a mushroom and chicken mixture, and Custard Buns ($2.68), which sweeten up your palate.

In addition to dim sum, the restaurant brightens patron’s days with a menu of 171 a la carte items that are perfect for lunch or dinner. Lum and Chun recommend Sea Bass Casserole ($15.95), which is prepared in oyster sauce with mushroom, fried tofu, chinese peas and nearly caramelized pieces of garlic to dress up soft fillets of sea bass. Lum says the dish is served with a burner under the plate to keep the ingredients warm and fresh at the table.

Another great a la carte item is Huk Gin Tofu ($10.95), which presents a medley of chicken, vegetables, seafood and tofu in a bamboo steamed basket. Together with Sea Bass Casserole, these dishes are among the eatery’s most healthy options.

Put simply, Nice Day Chinese Restaurant is delicious. “We just want customers to be happy and comfortable, and enjoy the food,” adds Lum.

Nice Day Chinese Restaurant

1425 Liliha St., Honolulu
Daily, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96817

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best