Noodle Tuesday: Panya's Laksa and Noodles From Around the World

Panya's laksa (top) and dan dan mien (bottom)

Panya's menu reads like a greatest hits of noodle dishes around the world, which is sort of what sisters Alice and Annie Yeung were going for when they started the first Panya more than a decade ago.

Panya serves international soul food, says Alice. "People who live in Hawaii love to eat noodles," she says, and that's why Panya has such a breadth of noodle varieties, from Taiwanese beef noodle soup to spaghetti to pad thai, to one of Panya's signature bowls—laksa, inspired by the popular Singaporean and Malaysian curry noodle soup. "Noodle dishes are important in all cultures," Alice says.

"My sister and I, and our two chefs are from Hong Kong and Macau, we understand what people are craving. And we try to put those foods on our menu."

Panya's laksa has been on the menu for more than 13 years, served at Panya's Auahi Street location (incidentally, the very location the cafe and bakery lost when Hokua was built, making Panya's return, as the prominent restaurant on the ground floor of the Hokua, sweet redemption). The laksa features two kinds of noodles in the bowl—thin rice noodles and thicker yellow noodles—in a fishy, light coconut milk and curried broth. It is almost perfect—it could use a little more oomph, maybe more spice, and perhaps a squeeze of lime to perk it up.

The same goes for Panya's other noodles; the flavor needs to be dialed up in the Taiwanese beef noodle soup and dan dan mien—noodles topped with ground pork in a peanut and sesame sauce (not to be confused with zha jiang mien, the server makes sure to let me know). Panya's breadth is impressive—next, it needs to focus on depth (of flavor).

Panya Bistro at Hokua, 1288 Ala Moana Blvd., 946-6388