When visiting my Mom in Honolulu, dim sum is her go-to lunch option. But many of her favorite dim sum restaurants in Hawaii haven’t really changed since I last visited, and in some ways the quality may have gone down a notch at a couple of spots.
So when my brother suggested checking out a new restaurant at the newly renovated International Marketplace in Waikiki, I jumped at the chance. We went for lunch with my Mom (joined by our sister) at Yauatcha, which opened earlier this year.
At first glance, Yauatcha screams high-end with its splashy entrance and decor, and the menu confirms it with prices for dim sum ranging from $6 to $11 (and most times only three pieces come on a plate). It wasn’t a surprise when I found out later that Yauatcha is a part of the Hakkasan Group, which opens high-end restaurants in major cities around the world, including the Hakkasan restaurant in San Francisco.
Yauatcha offers up a mix of traditional dim sum favorites such as char siu bao or pan-seared daikon cakes with a few creative items such as roasted duck pumpkin puffs ($8), which are cute pumpkin-shaped pastries that have a crispy exterior while the inside is filled with shredded roasted duck and kabocha squash.
My brother and sister both enjoyed the prawn and crispy beancurd cheung fun ($11), which is a play on the popular breakfast Chinese donut served often with jook and then wrapped in flat rice noodles. At Yauatcha, they add juicy prawns for some heft.
Not every unusual item was a home run. The scallop shui mai ($11) looked interesting with a full scallop on top of a typical shrimp shui mai and garnished with tobiko. But the flavors were a bit too much for me and I craved a regular shui mai.
Still, some of the traditional items made in the traditional way came off with nice flavor. One of my favorite dim sum item is lo mai gai (or sticky rice chicken in lotus leaves). Yauatcha’s version ($9), has chicken and salted duck egg and while a bit smaller than what you’ll find elsewhere, it really picked up the nice herbal fragrance of the lotus leaves.
The last bite
Yauatcha isn’t a place that my Mom will go to often because of the price, but it is a spot for special occasions or when she wants to treat herself.
The rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: Yauatcha, 2330 Kalakaua Ave., (third floor of the International Marketplace in Waikiki), Honolulu. PH: 808.739.9318. Open 11 am. to 10 p.m. daily (till 11 p.m. on weekends). Reservations, major credit cards accepted. Website
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