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skchai

Night in Chinatown Festival

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The Night (sic) in Chinatown Festival is put on each year by the Honolulu Chinatown Merchants Association. It is always held on the second Saturday preceding Chinese New Year (Jan. 10 this year) in the heart of the rejuvenated 150 year-old Chinatown in downtown Honolulu. While the festival originally consisted of a evening parade, it has expanded to the point where much of the action for the festival - certainly the eating-related action - takes place during the day. Over 10,000 people show up each year to grind away at the offerings of an assortment of businesses and community organizations. Over the past 10 years, many of the new businesses in the area have been started by immigrants from Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnamese and Filipinos, something that is reflected in the food on offer. Here's a sample what we saw this year. . .

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The entrance to the food stall areas on Maunakea Street. Four blocks of nothing but food stalls, along the route the Night in Chinatown parade would take later that night. Doesn't look too crowded from here but once you got into the middle it was hard to get any elbow room.

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"Vegetarian fried smelt" from the Hawaii Buddhist Cultural Society. Made from tofu skin - very salty, crunchy and addictive.

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Scallion bread being fried. . .

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Spatchcocked Hulihuli Chicken from Koala Moa restaurant.

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A Cantonese place with the various noodle things and the inevitable "jai", or Monk's Food, the more-or-less mandatory vegetarian New Year's dish containing dried tofu, bamboo shoots, black seaweed (hijiki), and bean thread noodles (third from left). I didn't usually have a chance to write down the names of the booths - was too busy being jostled around while holding a camera in one hand and several bags of food in the other.

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We liked this booth a lot - it specialized in skewered grilled things. Had a few of the salt-grilled prawns, fish and caramel-sauce marinated roast pork, and chicken skewers.

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My son took this picture of me grinning idiotically with two roast pork skewers.

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This booth was apparently (?) sponsored by a Buddhist monastery - but somehow it wasn't vegetarian! The Vietnamese-style beef balls were great, as were the the turmeric-yellow fishcake sticks (far right).

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Again, I didn't get the name of the booth. Great green papaya salad with nearly-raw slices of tiger prawn, and fried rice pink from its heavy concentration of lup cheong and char siew.

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And, of course, gao. The ones shown here are among the best you can get in the islands, from the Shung Chong Yuein pastry shop on Maunakea St. Picked up a large one with some of their famous candied fruit / veg; we are still working on finishing it.


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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amazing street food, skchai, and thanks for the photos too! :smile:


"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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Wow! It looks like I really missed out. I wish that I had gotten back to Oahu just a few hours earlier, and maybe without the killer 11 jet lag... Thanks for the report skchai!

I think that have posted before about Legend's Vegetarian Restaurant in Chinatown, right across the way from its sister Seafood Restaurant. The Veggie menu is a riot to read, and all of the "meat" dishes are pretty amazing is taste, texture, and visual appeal.

-Emily


----------------------------------------------

Emily in London

http://www.august18th2007.com

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That festival has really grown in the past decade. It used to be just a block or so. Do they still have those wonderful Chinese donut-y things, hollow, I think of mochi, and sprinkled with sesame seeds?

And I love the fact that there are Costco cashews. So much for international big box chains leading to the homogenization of food.

And best of all we can now put a face to you Sun-Ki. It's reassuringly like the face I imagined,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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Are you referring to jin dui, Rachel - spherical fried mochi balls filled with red beans or lotus seeds, the kind you often see at dim sum restaurants? They did have those at the festival. . .

Glad that being able to put a face on me was reassuring and not horrifying. . . :raz:


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Some more images - from the Chinatown markets:

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the amazing Maunakea food court - the cuisine of about a dozen countries packed into a tiny space

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reef fish at Malasig 7 Sisters in the Maunakea market

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ube (filipino yam) at the Maunakea market

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togan (winter melon) at the Maunakea market

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catfish at the Kehaulike market

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vegetables at the Kehaulike market


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Goodness, I love all these photos. Do they still have those plastic gallon jugs of fresh blood? Sometimes they were visible, sometimes not depending on how recently a health inspector had been round,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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Rachel, I haven't seen the jugs of blood recently. Maybe the health inspector has really cracked down! Lots of other things, however, that people unused to it might find disconcerting - live frogs (though not on the last occasion) as well as all sorts of live seafood.

Michael - is it getting pretty frigid now? Was on the East Coast a few weeks ago with the kids, and now that they're back they're complaining about the lack of snow!


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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