Decked Out Shrimp for a Festive Holiday

Columns Ono, You Know

December 22, 2013

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

Some foods are just meant to go together. For example, there’s hot chocolate and marshmallows, and one of my ultimate weaknesses: creamy vanilla ice cream and crispy fries — a combination of sweet and salty that is to die for. And what about sweet apple slices sprinkled with sour li hing mui powder? Please don’t get me started on this marriage of items because it’s simply too ono of a pairing.

With Christmas just days away, it’s hard to believe that most of my holiday favorites already have been satisfied. My pumpkin pie craving was put to rest after demolishing three decadent pies in the span of three days (no joke). I’ve also had my fair share of gingerbread men and sugar cookies, and I recently scarfed down scalloped potatoes like nobody’s business. Yet, this week, I had to get my hands on another perfect pairing: honey (walnut) and shrimp. Random, I know, but I needed my fill of this local Chinese favorite just as much as a child who yearns to be greeted with an Xbox and iPad under the tree on Christmas morning.

Fortunately for me, Santa and his elves heard my plea, and I was thrilled to partake in some of the best honey (walnut) shrimp at the following Ono, You Know establishments. Each morsel of shrimp was equally tender, juicy, savory and sweet — five-star worthy, in my opinion. When you combine an assortment of beautiful flavors into one dish, it’s simply magic. Voila! Happy holidays, everyone!

The Mandalay

Oftentimes, it’s the simplest Chinese cuisine that brings me the most pleasure. Sure, I’m enthralled by the many Chinese delicacies that only the adventurous are brave enough to consume, but I’d rather stick to the classics. Enter honey walnut shrimp, a honest to goodness local favorite.

Here at The Mandalay, situated in the heart of downtown’s business district on Alakea Street, the hustle and bustle stops for a moment as Hong Kong-style cuisine rejuvenates the mind and body and gets you out of that dreaded mid-day slump. Owners and husband-and-wife team Larry and Linda Chan know exactly what their customers want, and the restaurant has received much positive feedback as a result.

Shrimp with Honey Walnut ($17.95) is easily a best-seller here, and for good reason. Imagine a plate full of 16 mouthwatering shrimp peeled and coated in a light, fluffy batter and wok-fried with a blend of mayonnaise and honey, and you can’t forget about the butter! Then, a dash of lemon juice and a hint of condensed milk are added to bring this dish to a new dimension. My mouth is watering at the mere idea of it all. And just when you thought this plate of crustaceans couldn’t get any better, truth is, it does. Homemade walnuts glazed with honey present a sweet accent to this a la carte option.

The Mandalay
1055 Alakea St.

Nice Day Chinese Seafood Restaurant

Nice Day's Honey Walnut Shrimp ($13.95). Nathalie Walker photo

Nice Day’s Honey Walnut Shrimp ($13.95). Nathalie Walker photo

First things first, Nice Day Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Liliha Street is almost always jam-packed with new and loyal patrons satisfying their rumbling bellies with a spread of authentic and locally inspired Chinese fare. And it’s no surprise to see an assortment of dim sum flying off the carts as servers make their rounds at each table. The array of options is endless, thus making things rather difficult for the indecisive diner — or, if you’re like me and want one of everything on the menu, but soon realize that your eyes are much bigger than your stomach. But, come on, it’s nearly impossible to resist the urge to devour it all when irresistible aromas permeate the restaurant. What a tease to your palate!

I’m a self-proclaimed shrimp fanatic, and it’s a fact that Honey Walnut Shrimp holds a special place in my heart. Priced at $13.95, Nice Day’s Honey Walnut Shrimp features a plate full of tiger shrimp coated with flour and deep-fried a crispy golden brown. The icing on the cake, so to speak, is a special sauce composed of egg whites, mayonnaise and condensed milk that surely ups the ante on this highly coveted dish.

With all this to look forward to, a nice day certainly lies ahead.

Nice Day Chinese Seafood Restaurant
1425 Liliha St.

Ho Ho Chinese Cuisine

Santa’s not the only one cheering “Ho, ho, ho!” this holiday season. Loyal patrons of Ho Ho Chinese Cuisine are giving him some stiff competition, as they, too, have lots to cheer and be merry about. Located in Kapolei, Ho Ho Chinese Cuisine presents lunch and dinner buffets, and each boasts more than 30 items. The lunch buffet costs $10.95 Monday-Friday and $12.95 Saturday-Sunday, while the dinner buffet is priced at $16.95 Monday-Thursday, and $18.95 Friday-Sunday.

A massive appetite is recommended for an all-you-can-eat buffet, but here’s the catch: You have to be smart with your choices. Here’s my strategy when it comes to buffets: I skip the salads, rice and basically everything I can eat at home, and instead go all out on specific dishes that I know only the restaurant is capable of doing justice. Take, for example, Ho Ho’s Honey Glazed Shrimp (also available a la carte for $12.95), which is succulent in every sense of the word — peeled for easy eating, deep-fried and glazed with a sweet and creamy blend of honey, mayonnaise and condensed milk. During the holidays, you have every reason to indulge!

Ho Ho Chinese Cuisine
590 Farrington Hwy.

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