Harbour View's dim-sum service loads of fun
By Matthew Gray
Advertiser Restaurant Critic
It's a spacious place, warmed by dark wood and a dusky maroon carpet with intricate Chinese patterns and, of course, it overlooks the harbor and the Honolulu Maritime Museum.
In the early part of the day, from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., you can partake of their dim-sum special (everything except look funn is just $1.89 per plate), an affordable way to try some of the treats here. If you can't make it that early, don't worry; they serve dim sum until 2:30 in the afternoon, but the special price isn't in effect.
Try the steamed sweet-cream bun, sponge cake, fried sesame ball, and the sweet mango pudding from the "small" part of the dim sum menu ($2.45 per plate after 11:30 a.m.). Most of the 11 items on this part of the menu are sweets; most of us will prefer to eat these after the savory items.
The "medium" part of the dim-sum menu offers 26 excellent choices ($1.95 per plate before 11:30 a.m.; $2.95 afterward) including delicious taro puffs, juicy steamed minced pork dumplings, spareribs with black-bean sauce, pan-fried turnip cakes, and much, much more. The pan-fried stuffed green pepper, eggplant or mushroom, is flavored with black-bean sauce, something they are very proud of here, with a lot of fresh cracked black pepper.
Finally, the "large" menu offerings ($1.95 per plate before 11:30 a.m.; $3.45 after 11:30 a.m.) rely mostly on seafood choices. I recommend the shrimp dumplings, the steamed seafood and spinach dumplings, and the fried bean-curd shrimp rolls. The mochi rice with chicken, wrapped in a lotus leaf, is one of the two dishes without seafood, and it's wonderful, as was the choy sum sautéed with oyster sauce.
I could go on all day about how much fun the dim-sum service is. Hot pots of jasmine tea and carts brimming with interesting food choices give the place a celebratory feel. No need to wait until the weekend for dim sum.
If you're ordering from the regular menu, you'll find something for everyone. Appetizers such as minced seafood in lettuce leaves ($12.95) and crunchy fried shrimp balls ($10.95) offered subtlety. Pork with garlic sauce ($10.95), and crabmeat in taro baskets (5 for $14.95) were a bit more exotic.
The sizzling tenderloin steak with black pepper sauce ($16.95) is remarkable, in a black-bean sauce heavy on the black pepper. It arrived at the table as a foil pouch on a bed of flaming rock salt, not on a sizzling cast iron platter as at many other places. Our waiter opened up the pouch to reveal some of the most tender and flavorful beef I've ever had. You can't go wrong with this choice.
Prawn dishes ($15.95) come a variety of ways here. Waiters will suggest the mayonnaise prawns with honey walnuts, but I prefer prawns with snow peas or lobster sauce, which allows the flavor of the seafood to come through.
Cold chicken with ginger and green onion ($10.95) is particularly good here, as is the Cantonese-style roast duck ($10.95) and the kung-pao chicken ($10.95), stir-fried with dried chilies and onion.
Chinese restaurants often have a nice touch with vegetables. Here, the spicy eggplant in garlic sauce ($8.95) can be prepared with or without meat. On choy with garlic sauce ($8.95) is a perfect combination; the bitter green flavor of the vegetable matches well with garlic. Braised tofu with vegetables ($8.95) and the braised black mushrooms ($15.95) offer a bit more to chew on if that's what you're after.
There are several fried-rice and noodle dishes, along with interesting hot-pot combinations, and of course, soups. The variety will keep you busy while deciding on what to order.
Hong Kong Harbour View has a good staff of servers, quiet and efficient. Especially praiseworthy is the friendly, engaging and helpful attitude of Peter, the front man, who speaks several languages. His kind of on-the-floor public relations is priceless.
Reach Matthew Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.