8 Things You Can Only Find in Honolulu’s Chinatown

You won’t find 1,000-year-old eggs or giant live bullfrogs anywhere else on the Island.

1. Small, Locally Owned Any Kine Markets

Charms and coins
Illustrations: Sergio Garzon

Only here can you find back-to-back, hole-in-the-wall shops carrying everything from fashions to children’s toys you won’t see in Toys “R” Us to cell phone charms that bring good luck or ward off bad luck.

 

2. Ethiopian, Ecuadorian, Latin, Moroccan and Lebanese Cuisine

Moroccan food

If you’re in a culinary rut, let Chinatown refresh you with Ethiopian kik alicha wot, Lebanese badinjan mahchi and Ecuadorian yuca masa muchines. Just visit destinations Ethiopian Love, Kan Zaman and Grondin French-Latin Kitchen.

 

3. 1,000-year-old eggs

1,000 year old eggs

Find China’s famous fermented eggs at the Hong Fa Market, 1152 Maunakea St., a box of six for $2.95. “I love it in jook, rice soup,” says HONOLULU staffer Diane Lee. “Try it with green onions or parsley. It’s actually very slimy, but delicious.”  

 

4. The Writing’s In The Walls

Writing on the wall

The history of Chinatown is literally built right into the walls, with streets and structures made of red brick and granite ballast from sailing ships, foundations constructed on railroad track ties and metal awnings to protect the previous wooden sidewalks.

 

5. More Kick Than Red Bull

Live bullfrog

Shopping for a friend—or for dinner? Maunakea Marketplace is here to satisfy all appetites, with giant live bullfrogs (among an assortment of other fascinating creatures). A hopping good deal at just $6.99 a pound.

 

6. Loaves of Fishes

Fishcake

No longer an afterthought atop a bowl of ramen, fishcake shines at home when you buy it fresh from Ishimoto Fish Market (and other markets including Nakazato and 88 Fresh Fish on King Street). It’s no acquired taste: Just fry it up with green onion—you’ll be surprised.

 

7. Fresh look funn noodles

Look funn noodles

Ying Leong Look Funn Factory specializes in just that: wide, flat sheets of look funn noodles made right there. Choose between plain, shrimp, char siu and mushroom. Take them home and add your favorite soy sauce for a tasty, affordable treat.

 

8. Cheap ama ebi

Ama ebi

Large, sweet ama ebi shrimp, netted deep off O‘ahu, can be found fresh at the Kekaulike Market (just inside the first mauka entrance). It’s much cheaper than anywhere else. (As we went to press, the boat’s skipper took a three-month hiatus; look for ama ebi’s return in April.)

 

Read more about Chinatown in the February issue of HONOLULU Magazine, on newsstands now, or click here for the digital edition. You can also purchase the issue at shop.honolulumagazine.com.