Explore the world of dim sum at Panda Cuisine

One of my favorite dim sum places is Panda Cuisine located on Keeaumoku right across from Walmart. I have been going there with my family ever since my children were small. My kids love it. It’s comfort food for them even if they don’t have an ounce of Chinese in them! The food is tasty and the price is reasonable. It’s a perfect place to celebrate an occasion like Mother’s Day because you can go there even without reservations. And if it is a bit busy, you can sit on the couch in the waiting area and look at the all the pictures of celebrities, actors, singers, sports people that have experienced Panda Cuisine. It’s a nice way to kill time. Daniel, the owner, is usually there and greets you with a friendly smile. He acknowledges the fact that you’re a frequent customer, that’s a nice feeling!

Once you get seated the servers will make sure you have Chinese tea, Panda serves jasmine, and water with a little slice of lemon in it. A nice touch. Then they start coming around with their carts full of dim sum freshly steamed in their baskets. Other carts arrive displaying fried items, cold meat dishes and desserts. Pick and choose what your stomach desires. And don’t forget the mustard and hot sauce!

Dim sum literally means “touch the heart” and refers to light and small Chinese dishes served with Chinese tea. Dim sum was originally a snack and therefore only meant to touch the heart. Today it is considered a main meal in Chinese dining culture. This dining experience is called Yum cha meaning “drinking tea.” Authentic dim sum restaurants normally serve from morning to afternoon for the breakfast and lunch crowd. Small steamer baskets and plates of meat, seafood, vegetables and desserts come in carts. What is nice that you can see them and choose. Or many places have menus with pictures of each item on it. You can also order other Chinese dishes such as soup, noodles, fried rice and vegetables.

Tea time is a wonderful cultural tradition practiced by many people. Americans enjoy their coffee and black tea, the British their afternoon spot of tea, the Japanese their green tea and the Chinese all sorts of tea including jasmine, oolong and bolay. The bolay tastes a bit moldy but it is best for digestion. What is interesting is that the Chinese began serving dim sum with their tea after they realized that tea can aid in digestion.

Panda offers dim sum in three price ranges: Small is $2.75, Medium is $3.50 and Large is $4.50. Noodles, rice dishes and soups can be ordered a la carte. Our favorite small dish is the steamed cream bun. They are to die for and no matter how much dim sum we eat, there is always room for the steamed cream bun for dessert. Some of our favorite medium dishes are the steamed shrimp dumpling, the shrimp and chive dumpling and siu mai. The seafood bundle (seafood wrapped in tofu skin) and the look fun are our favorite large dishes. When ordering noodles, we go for either the Singapore noodles or the chow fun with beef, vegetables and gravy. As you can see we enjoy the steamed, healthier types of dim sum. But the fried items such as the shrimp dumpling, taro puffs, spring rolls and gyoza (potsticker) are very delicious. The mochi rice and steamed and baked buns are ono too. Meat dishes like the meatballs and spare ribs in black bean sauce are very tasty.

As you can see, I am an experienced dim sum eater. It is a great thing to do on the weekend with family and friends. The more the merrier and of course, the more variety of dim sum you can choose. Yum cha…relax and enjoy an affordable and tasty meal!

Nice and elegant decor

Cart full of steamed dim sum

Shrimp and chive dumplings, siu mai and shrimp dumplings

Singapore noodles

Fried shrimp dumplings

steamed cream buns

Steamed seafood bundle

Steamed Shanghai dumplings

Fried turnip cakes

Honolulu Festival

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