First Look: Panda Dimsum in Kalihi

Frogs, hedgehogs and bees, oh my! This spot dishes up cute, Instagrammable dumplings.
​The adorable bao served at Panda Dimsum in Kalihi.
Photo: Enjy El-Kadi


Panda Dimsum began serving up some of the cutest steamed buns we’ve seen about two months ago. We’re talking pandas (well, yeah!), bees, hedgehogs, frogs, pigs, sunflowers, mushrooms and more. They also include characters from movies and pop culture, including Minions, Angry Birds, Doraemon and some that look like French fries from that popular fast-food place.


And just when all this cuteness is making you fear sweetness overload, you see the little sign telling you that the coloring of these detailed little creatures comes from vegetables: “Cheer up your loved one with animated colourful steam buns.”  The buns are tasty and steamed hot when you order.


Many of the decorated buns have vegetable fillings. The pandas and sunflowers come filled with custard, the Minions contain red beans, the Angry Birds are filled with lotus and the bees sweet potato.


All this cute stuff is called “the art of dim sum” on the menu, currently priced at $2 a piece or two for $3.50, with a recommendation to call ahead to order more than 10. The menu also includes some meaty offerings: char siu buns, pork siu mai, rice cake and more.


The new dumpling purveyor can be found at City Square shopping center near Kapālama Canal, a center that’s already worth a special trip to get garlic chicken from Sugoi Bento, grab a sit-down Okinawan lunch at Utage Restaurant and Lounge or pick up a dozen poi malassadas from Kamehameha Bakery.


To find Panda, head into the Chinatown Market Place complex, pass fresh vegetable stands, meat and fish counters to find a few restaurants tucked into the back. There are a few tables nearby to sit, though most of the customers last week were picking up to-go food.


The staff says call ahead a couple of days in advance for larger orders.


Panda Dimsum, inside Chinatown Market Place, 1199 Dillingham Blvd., (808) 429-2018