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Monday, February 27, 2012

New location: Chun Wah Kam

If you're in the midst of Lenten moderation, you should probably stop reading now. The new branch of Chun Wah Kam by Ala Moana has more than 50 varieties of entrees, all heaped into steam table trays a la Panda Express. If you thought Five Star International Buffet was overwhelming, Chun Wah Kam induces complete decision paralysis. Order an entree plate ($10.30), with the option of two "mini" starches and four "mini" entrees, and by the time they get to filling the third entree, the compartment dividers are already buried and food just gets piled on top of food. In the end, it's an unappetizing mess. Trying to disentangle each entree and starch—ma po pork tofu, garlic chicken, fish stir fried with choy sum, pork adobo, Shanghai egg noodle and ginger chicken rice—reveals that the parts are greater than the sum. Each taste fine—decent renditions on Chinese-American food and local food—but each are greasy. Compound the grease by six dishes, and the bottom of the clamshell is slicked with a thick layer of oil. Not that we even made it to the bottom entirely. Two of us split the entree plate and still had enough leftovers to make another full meal. Not that we wanted to, after seeing all that grease.

I have a more favorable impression of the manapua, which also entails tough decision making: 15 steamed manapua and eight baked manapua varieties with fillings such as roast duck, Thai curry chicken, pork hash, sweet potato and, of course, char siu. The steamed buns are fluffy, the baked ones sturdier but still soft and sweet. Don't fret too much about the choices here—despite the different fillings, they all taste mostly the same, of slightly sweet shredded meat. The roast duck might have a hint of anise and hoisin sauce, the Thai curry chicken a bit of spice, but it's pretty hard to tell one meat from another. At Chun Wah Kam, choice is not a good thing.

537 Pensacola St., 744-1816,

Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 in Permalink

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About This Column

From five-star restaurants to hidden holes-in-the-wall, Biting Commentary will let you know what’s hot and what’s not. Find out the latest restaurant news—who’s opening, who’s closing, which chef is moving on, where the great special dinners are. Discover the best menu items, fabulous wines, stunning cocktails, hand-crafted beers. Be the first to hear about upcoming food events and festivals.

Food editor Martha Cheng graduated from Wellesley College with degrees in Computer Science and English. She's a former line cook, food truck owner, Peace Corps volunteer and Google techie. Follow her on Twitter @marthacheng.


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