Celebrating The Flavors Of Asia
Yum Cha, located at Grand Hyatt Kaua’i Resort and Spa in Koloa and nestled along the highly regarded Po’ipu Bay Golf Course, provides family-style dining at reasonable prices, specializing in house-made dim sum.
Throughout Asia, yum cha is a dining experience in which friends and family drink tea and eat dim sum.
“Traditionally, when you have tea you have small pupus,” says sous chef Zachary Pham, who oversees the restaurant’s kitchen. “Yum Cha is one of the only places on the island where you can get dim sum that’s house-made.”
Yum Cha celebrated its grand reopening Dec. 16 after being closed for nine months during golf course renovations. Executive chef Larry Ells made use of the down time by traveling across Asia in search of traditional flavors to add to the diverse menu.
One-third of Yum Cha’s menu reflects Ells’ inspired research, including the house-made sweet-and-spicy XO Sauce. Pham has made some creative additions such as his signature dish, Zach’s Drunken Chicken with Asian Pesto ($12).
The vaulted wood-paneled ceiling gives the bustling dining room an airy feeling as Asian music plays softly in the background. At every table, families with children, couples and friends share meals as lively conversation and laughter mingle with glasses clinking in celebratory toasts.
Large plate-glass windows frame the prestigious golf course designed by world-renowned architect Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Tiki torch flames dance in the flush of a setting sun and reflect off a pond as the majestic Haupa Mountain Range looms in the distance.
“If you come with a party of four or six or a family, you can order one item from each section of the menu and you can share,” Pham says of the large portions on the eclectic menu. “That’s traditionally how Asian families consume meals.”
New on the menu is the Braised Pork Belly Bao ($12). Reminiscent of an Asian soft taco, the slow-cooked pork is tender on the inside with a crisp, caramelized exterior. It’s tucked within a house-made, pillow-soft steamed dough and garnished with tangy hoisin sauce, thinly sliced red onions, cilantro and tomatoes.
The Indonesian Chicken Satay ($9) is smoky, moist and sweet. Marinated in a sesame soy sauce, bitesized pieces of tender, dark meat are skewered and grilled over a smoldering flame. It’s fantastic on its own, but my husband, Dan, prefers it dipped in the creamy peanut sauce.
“For our vegetarian friends, we have a high-protein fried rice,” Pham says of the popular Stir Fried Wild Rice ($12). Bursting with four varieties of crunchy sprouts, grilled mushrooms and red rice, the flavorful dish is healthy comfort food.
The Wok Fried Lobster and Prawns ($28) showcases tender lobster rolled in mochiko, a sweet rice flour, and it’s quickly fried. The soft crust absorbs the black bean sauce and creates a silky, flavorful coating.
As our server Tim Kopesky sets down a hearty serving of Szechuan Peppered Prime Beef ($25), he smiles and says, “When I bring this home to my girlfriend, I’m a rock star.” Laughing, I take a bite. The slightly spicy sauce weaves its way around seared, thinly sliced beef, tender asparagus and juicy long beans. I can see why it’s a hit.
Named Honolulu Magazine‘s 2006 Hale Aina Award-winner for best new Kaua’i restaurant, Yum Cha offers delicious food, good service and reasonable prices. With something on the menu for everyone, it’s the perfect setting to celebrate family-style, share dim sum with friends or enjoy a romantic evening.
1571 Poipu Road, Koloa
Wednesday-Sunday 5:30-9:30 p.m.
E-mail Marta Lane at email@example.com.