I get a lot of dim sum when I visit Honolulu because that’s what my Mom likes for lunch. And during my week on the islands, I probably ate at four different dim sum places.
For some reason, I felt like the quality of dim sum in Hawaii has gone downhill since my last visit two years ago. But one place where I tried dim sum for the first time and enjoyed it was at Kirin Restaurant in the Moiliili-University area.
The restaurant has been around for more than 25 years, but in the early years Kirin wasn’t known as a dim sum spot. My family and I would go there for its Shanghai cuisine such as onion pancakes and thick fried noodles. But in the last few years it started offering dim sum, which is more a Hong Kong specialty, so Kirin’s menu is a mix of Shanghai and dim sum offerings.
The mix of these two cuisine can mean we get to order many of our favorite dishes from both styles. From the Shanghai side, we got onion pancakes, the Shanghai fried noodles (which is thick like udon, as a child I called them worms), and soup dumplings. From the Hong Kong side, we got lo bak gou (turnip cakes), siu mai, sticky rice in lotus leaves, and more.
For the dim sum, some items were average like the siu mai. But others were quite good, like the sticky rice in lotus leaves and curry turnovers. The Shanghai noodles were just as good as I remembered, with the noodles browned by the savory soy sauce. But the soup dumplings (which came last because they’re made to order) had a dumpy shape and a large amount of filling compared to the soup.
The Last Bite
While not everything was amazing, most were quite good and satisfying compared to other dim sum spots around town. While Kirin is a bit more pricey, it seems to be an undiscovered spot for dim sum, which means fewer crowds and shorter waits. The combination of Shanghai delicacies and dim sum also means something for everyone.
Kirin Restaurant, 2518 S. Beretania St., Honolulu. PH: 808.942.1888. Open for lunch and dinner. No reservations. Major credit cards accepted.
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