I wanted to dig into Chinatown, which I really have never done, so I showed up for Anthony Chang's food tour of Chinatown; I was not disappointed. Chang is an attorney, food writer and professor of Chinese-Hawaiian history whose tour is focused on the food of Chinatown but also includes a lot of interesting history of the Chinatown community. He gives the three hour tour every Monday, departing at 9:30a.m. from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce (42 N. King St.), cost is $10 and no reservation needed, just show up. Through the tour, you will see and hear about a large number of markets and restaurants and learn about the history of the Chinese community and its cuisine in Hawaii. It's a food tour but not an eating tour, though we did have a snack of delicious handmade porky rice noodles at the Ying Leong Look Funn Factory.
After the tour, we were so hungry from seeing and smelling all of the food that we visited several of the markets Chang had introduced us to.
Nam Fong Market, 1020 Maunakea, is known for its roast meats. We got some roast duck, which was among the best I've had, juicy and succulent with a crisp skin, really everything you want in a roast duck.
Across the street, Wing Loy Market, 1036 Maunakea, is a roast meat competitor known for its excellent char siu and roasted pork. The Char siu was great, the roast pork, a bit on the dry side.
Next door to Nam Fong is the Shung Chong Yuein bakery, which was one of the highlights of our trip: giant char siu bao with big chunks of char siu, black sugar moon cakes with a thick sweet paste inside, coconut sesame balls, melon cakes with rich melon flavor and a wonderful macadamia nut brittle, which was really more of a bar than a brittle, the macadamias are held together in squares with a chewy, sweet paste and covered with sesame seeds.
If you are a novice to Honolulu Chinatown, or an expert who wants some historical context, I highly recommend this excellent walking tour.