Get Sum at Hawai‘i Dim Sum and Seafood Restaurant 聚賢酒樓

The new Chinatown restaurant serves up classic, comforting dim sum.


Sunday dim sum has been a thing for me and my dad since I was a kid, like it is for a lot of Chinese families. But after Sunflower Café closed a few years back, there was no place that checked all our boxes: easy to get a table with affordable and delicious dishes. Plus, since my dad is from Hong Kong, he has higher standards for dim sum. So when he said he found a good place in Chinatown, I was of course down to go. He led me to Hawai‘i Dim Sum and Seafood Restaurant 聚賢酒樓.


Hawaii Dim Sum And Seafood Inside

Photo: Andrea Lee


With its traditional Chinese interior—chairs decked in red, round tables covered in white cloths, classical paintings on the walls—the restaurant gives me a bit of nostalgia. Even the tea dribbling out of the porcelain teapot as I pour hits different.


But Hawai‘i Dim Sum is not that old school. Instead of making selections from roaming carts (there aren’t any here), I write our orders on a printed checklist. A small dish is $5.45 and a large dish is $6.85. Special dishes, such as look funn, are individually priced. The menu has pictures with Chinese and English labels so you know exactly what you’re getting. Food comes to your table as it’s ready.


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Hawaii Dim Sum And Seafood Dim Sum

Photo: Andrea Lee


Our table is soon covered in white plates and bamboo steamer baskets. We ordered most of our usuals: siu mai (AKA pork hash), fried mochi puffs, baked char siu buns, shrimp dumplings with chives, char siu look funn and dan tat (AKA egg tart) for dessert. The steamed mochi rice balls looked interesting, so I’ve ordered them too.


The siu mai ($5.45) is tender, and the pork and shrimp melt together. The shrimp and chives dumpling ($5.45), still steaming, floods my mouth with juicy morsels. The exterior of the fried mochi puff ($5.45) is crispy and chewy but not too thick, giving way to a luscious pork filling. Biting into the baked char siu bun ($5.45), I find it’s solid. The bread holds its shape, almost like a crust, caving in to reveal sweet-salty pork.


The look funn ($8.95) is just right, soft noodles blanketing the char siu and drenched in a savory dark sauce. Surprisingly, the steamed mochi rice ball ($5.45) is my favorite. Instead of sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves, it’s bundled in a yellow wrapper that is so satisfying to bite into.


Hawaii Dim Sum And Seafood Dim Sum Close Up

Left: new pastries, right: steamed mochi rice balls. Photos: Andrea Lee


Karen Tam, wife of restaurant owner Danny Liang, gives us her recommendations: the crispy char siu bun, which is one of the most popular orders, and a new dish the chef is working on. The crispy char siu bun ($6.85) is called the “snow mountain bun” in Chinese because it’s covered in a sugary crust, making it crispy outside with a granular texture. It’s a bit sweet for my taste, but my dad enjoys it. I can see why locals love it.


The new dish that isn’t on the menu yet is a hefty golden pastry filled with salted egg and red bean. It’s mildly sweet and crusty, transitioning between lunch and dessert. The dim sum chef, noting that people have been requesting more authentic Chinese dishes, made this dish with traditional pastry dough, similar to that used for wedding pastries. This is not my cup of tea, though I’m also not a fan of wedding pastries.


Thoroughly stuffed, my dad and I tackle dessert. The dan tat or egg tart is not only bright yellow but tastes like sunshine in my mouth—sweet and warm in its flaky crust. We also have plenty of leftovers to take home for another meal.


Hawaii Dim Sum And Seafood Outside

Photo: Andrea Lee


Hawai‘i Dim Sum and Seafood Restaurant is in the former Golden Palace space in C. Q. Yee Hop Plaza, the building with the golden dragons twining up red pillars. There’s a paid parking lot behind the building and municipal garages around the corner on Maunakea Street and on the next block on Smith Street.


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Tam and Liang are no strangers to the restaurant business—he was co-owner of nearby Ginger and Garlic but always wanted a bigger restaurant. Liang finally sold his stake and pulled the trigger on this space when Golden Palace closed. They revamped the kitchen and dining area to make it brighter and more welcoming and opened in March.


It was Tam who chose the straightforward name Hawai‘i Dim Sum and Seafood Restaurant because it’s easily searchable. Liang picked the Chinese name 聚賢酒樓, which translates to “a restaurant where people get together.” His intention is now being fulfilled. Surrounded by folks enjoying good food and talking story in Cantonese, Mandarin and English with dumplings steaming on the table, in this place I feel at home.


Open Thursday to Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., dim sum served until 3:30 p.m., 111 N. King St., (808) 888-2823, @hawaiidimsumseafood