A Season for Sipping & Slurping: Our Favorite Noodle Spots in Chinatown
Written by Kailanianna Ablog
Now that fall has arrived, it’s time to bring on the broth! While Hawaiʻi may not see as drastic of a weather change as other places, our love of noodles runs as deep as our bowls will allow. From pho to freshly-made Chinese noodles, these are some of our favorite noodle joints in Chinatown to check out as the season becomes just a little cooler.
A Word on Etiquette: Slurping in Asian Culture
While noisy eating is considered rude in some places, slurping while consuming noodles is, in a literal sense, a compliment to the chef in some Asian cultures. According to an article by Foodicles, slurping while eating noodles is encouraged in places such as China and Japan, as it is “an expression of enjoyment and appreciation of the food being eaten.” Furthermore, Nippon.com’s Motohashi Takashi notes in their article “A Cultural History of Noodle Slurping” that slurping, according to Horii Yoshinori, a proprietor of one of the oldest soba spots in Tokyo, speaks to olfaction: “The smell of soba is best appreciated via the mouth, not the nose,” Motohashi quotes Horii, “With wine tasting, for example, you first sniff, to smell the wine in the glass, then you swish it around in your mouth to capture the aroma that wafts up your nasal passages from your throat. They call it orthonasal olfaction and retronasal olfaction, respectively.”
Food etiquette differs in many countries. With Hawaiʻi being home to various people who come from different backgrounds, it’s neat to see how different cultural (and scientific) factors can contribute to the way we consume and enjoy our meals!
(pictured) Beef Flank and Tendon on Rice, Wonton, Curry Fishballs, Beef Chow Fun and Preserved Egg & Pork Rice Soup
Located at 1152 Maunakea St., Lam’s Kitchen is actually the second restaurant to be opened by its owners; the first one is Lagoon Chinese Restaurant near the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Opened in 2009, what inspired the family to start their restaurants was their love and nostalgia toward beef flank look fun from Guangdong, China. Lam’s Kitchen has its own unique vibe, evocative of old-school Chinese restaurants. You can find older folks drinking their cup of coffee while reading Chinese newspapers, and younger crowds enjoying meals together. Patrons can enjoy handmade look fun and other comfort foods such as beef jook, wonton mein, and pork and bittermelon on rice. Their Beef Flank and Tendon is one of their popular dishes! Additionally, you can order look fun rolls with hoisin sauce and curry fish balls, which are considered street food in Hong Kong. You can also eat some youtiao (Chinese donut sticks) to savor on the side, as you would traditionally enjoy with your jook!
Lam’s Kitchen is open everyday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and offers delivery and pick-up options. The next time you visit us, be sure to stop by Lam’s Kitchen for some delicious noodles and starchy goodness.
(pictured) Lamb Lumpia, Belly Bowl and Shrimp Kim Chee Bowl
With the food served at this joint, your belly will surely feel lucky! Lucky Belly is located on 50 North Hotel Street, and is open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The spot was opened by co-owners Jesse Cruz and Dusty Grable, who also own the Livestock Tavern and The Tchin Tchin! Bar, located on the same block of Hotel St. A modern ramen bowl spot, you can enjoy their various fusion dishes such as their Pork Belly Bao, Lucky Bowl, Shu Mai and Beet Salad. Lucky Belly is currently taking reservations online via OpenTable. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a solo dinner or planning a (safe) date night, consider adding Lucky Belly to your list of favorite noodle spots.
Yat Tung Chow Noodle Factory
(pictured) Homemade Shiu Mai with Wonton Wrappers from Yat Tung Chow Noodle Factory
From freshly-made noodles to wonton wrappers, Yat Tung Chow Noodle Factory is the one-stop shop for all things Chinese cuisine! Located at 150 North Hotel St., the noodle factory is open Wednesday through Mondays from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.; it is closed on Tuesdays. All of their goods are straight from the source, maintaining a soft texture that many store-bought noodles lack. Camille has purchased Yat Tung Chow’s noodles for some Singaporean dishes, as well as their wrappers for homemade dumplings and wonton.
When making your way to the noodle factory, it’s important to note that the entrance is unassuming; you will need to walk through a hallway before getting to the counter. Be sure to have an idea of what you’d like to order, as the cashier can be a little impatient, and bring cash, as Yat Tung Chow is cash only. Those looking for parking may find stalls at Kekaulike Courtyard.
While they do not have an official website, you may contact them via phone at (808)-531-7982. The next time you’re craving some noodles or want to try your hand at making your favorite dishes, consider stopping by Yat Tung Chow Noodle Factory!
Chi Kong Look Funn Factory
(pictured) Char Siu Funn and Dried Shrimp Funn with Roast Meats from Char Siu House
Another great noodle spot in Chinatown, Chi Kong Look Funn Factory is located on 1028 Kekaulike St. According to their Yelp page, they are closed on Tuesdays, open for business from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the weekends, Saturday and Sunday. Chi Kong Look Funn Factory is a simple counter that sells three types of look fun.
Our boutique’s owner, Camille, mentioned that Look Fun is a dish she’s only eaten in Hawaii; cheung fun is what she has eaten in Hong Kong. While we couldn’t find the exact origins of look fun and its role in Hawaii’s local cuisine culture, we were able to learn more about cheung fun. According to the food blog Hungry Huy, cheung fun, or cheung fan, “is a Cantonese dish with Guangdong origins and translates to ‘steamed rice roll;’” it is also typically served for breakfast. Like the dishes Chi Kong Look Funn sells, which include char siu and shrimp look fun rolls, cheung fan can have different fillings. If you’re craving simple but delicious look fun, definitely make a pit stop at Chi Kong Look Funn Factory.
Cuu Long II
(pictured) Beef Pho and Spring Rolls
Craving some pho? Cuu Long II is a great option (and one of Camille’s favorite pho spots)! Open Sunday through Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., this Vietnamese restaurant has a modern feel and is currently open for both dine-in and takeout, with online ordering available; they also have a mobile app you can download, which offers $5 off your first order of $30 or more. For takeout, the folks at Cuu Long II can also walk your order to your car, a great option for those on-the-go or who feel safer staying in their own space, especially if ordering late in the evening. You can also make reservations, and Cuu Long II recommends this be done for parties of five to ten people.
With dishes such as Seafood Pho, Spicy Curry Chicken, and Banana Tapioca Pearls, your noodle and rice cravings will be satisfied. Cuu Long II also offers bento and catering services for any event you have in mind. The next time you’re in Chinatown, be sure to visit Cuu Long II for some delicious noodles and make a note to visit An Di Dzo, Cuu Long II’s upcoming restaurant in Ward Village’s Entertainment Center.
The Pig & The Lady
(pictured) Pho French Dip with Noodles
Located in Downtown Honolulu at 83 N. King St., The Pig & The Lady is open for both dine-in, take-out, and delivery. The restaurant, which also participates in pop-ups and farmers markets, was founded by Andrew Le, a 2001 graduate of Saint Louis High School and 2006 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Andrew is “The Pig” in “The Pig & The Lady” name, with his mother “Mama Le” being the Lady. According to the restaurant's “The Crew” page, Mama Le and her husband, Raymond, were refugees who escaped the Fall of Saigon and were on their way to Arkansas when Mama Le’s water broke (she had been nine months pregnant). The plane did an emergency landing in Honolulu and Mama Le gave birth to her first child, Anderson, at Tripler Army Medical Center. Upon hearing they could stay in Honolulu or continue to Arkansas, the Les decided to stay in the islands. Andrew’s formal training and Mama Le’s healthy doses of motherly love and “home” are part of what makes The Pig & The Lady’s cuisine so memorable and one of the community’s favorites.
For dine-in, patrons make a reservation by calling the restaurant at 585-8255 or using their reservation widget via Tock on their website. The joint is open for lunch dine-in Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Dinner hours are 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The Pig & The Lady is closed on Sunday and Monday. To order take-out and delivery, you may also call in or order via their website and food delivery apps such as Bite Squad and Doordash. Hours for take-out and delivery are 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. With delicious morsels such as Bun Thit Nuong, Anchovy Garlic Noodles and Avocado Yuzu Tarts, you’ll be eating well with The Pig & The Lady! You can also visit Piggy Smalls, The Pig and The Lady’s second restaurant.