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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, May 29, 2005

Chef introduces mouthwatering dim sum

Chih Chieh Chang has introduced original types of dim sum, including his Shanghai-style dumpling.

Photo by Randy T. Fujimori

Shanghai Bistro

Where: 1778 Ala Moana Blvd., Discovery Bay Center

Call: 955-8668

Hours: Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays

Note: Happy Hour is available daily from 4 to 6:30 p.m.; dim sum service runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tapping his index finger to his temple, Shanghai Bistro chef Chih Chieh Chang said he has had his new Shanghai-style pork dumpling in mind for the past couple of years.

And the same holds true, he added, with his new "shrimp steak," ($18), which is prepared with 14-ounces of shrimp that are bonded to form a steak-like shape.

"You won't find these dishes at any other restaurant," asserted Chang, who has been pushing Chinese cuisine to new heights for the past several years. "They're original and they're unique."

The Shanghai-style pork dumpling (four pieces for $8.68), which is made to order, is like eating won ton soup; except in this case, it's the broth that sloshes around in the pork won ton and not vice versa.

"First, you have to carefully grab only the top of the won ton and lay it on a spoon," Chang instructed. "Then you take a little bite and suck up the broth."

The result is an explosion of flavors, especially if you add a dash of the accompanying ginger dipping sauce to the spoon.

While the $8.68 price tag may seem steep for a dim-sum item, it's well worth the money.

(Word of caution: The broth is scalding hot, so only pierce the skin. Don't attempt to bite into it whole if you want to keep your taste buds alive for the rest of your meal.)

Timing could not have been better for Chang to introduce this dish, since Shanghai Bistro now offers Hong Kong-style and Northern-style dim-sum items, daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"But you won't find strolling carts here," said Shanghai Bistro owner Li May Tang. "We wanted to keep this a little upscale and we wanted items to come out fresh."

Chang offers two dim sum set menus. Costing $16.89, the first one comes complete with Chang's signature pork dumplings, chives springroll, herb-and-minced-pork siu mai, choy sum with oyster sauce and golden garlic butter rice.

More extravagant, the second menu is priced at $29.89, which includes live crab that's steeped in a sake-ginger broth, pork dumplings, fried shrimp ball, siu mai and choy sum.

"Considering that the crab on the a la carte menu costs $25, this is a pretty good deal," Tang pointed out. "It can easily be shared between two people."

In fact, most of the items are best shared between two guests, from the seafood dumplings ($3.68) to the mochi rice chicken ($3.68) to herb-and-ginseng-infused spinach shrimp dumpling ($4.28).

"We've added herbs and ginseng for good health, luck and energy," Tang said. "And our Northern-style dim sum have stronger flavors."

A case in point is the spicy pork siu mai ($3.68) that's bathed in a bold hot sauce.

"It takes hours just to make the spicy sauce," Chang said. "But, it's worth it. It tastes so good."