One of my twitter friends, @GypsyRaven, recently organized a tweetup to share her bottle of Mao Tai — a 106 proof Chinese alcohol made from sorghum. Ming’s on Waikamilo seemed to be an appropriate choice, since they serve Shanghainese food and are BYOB.
The food and event was good enough that I would be blogging about this anyway, but I’m blogging about it today because it’s my dad’s birthday. As we went through our meal — which was filled with very Chinese dishes, rarely known or ordered by non-Chinese people — I started having flashbacks of my paternal grandparents, and then my father. The flavors and textures were things I had not had in years, maybe decades.
These are Chinese dishes beyond the familiar chow fun or beef broccoli. If you prefer the “regular” Chinese food, Ming’s does have it, but if you’re going to eat there, why go with the ordinary? Here is what we ate, mostly shot with my iPhone.
@GypsyRaven holding the ceramic bottle of Mao Tai and giving us the proper communist party salute. Gan bei! (Cheers!)
The Mao Tai is super strong! You can smell it from across the table when it's being poured, and if you let it sit too long, it evaporates. When you drink it (straight), you might detect a slight sweetness. But mostly, you'll feel the delicate burn that dissipates as it goes down your throat. Like jet fuel.
These were things that my parents would have really enjoyed, and I wished I could have brought them to the restaurant. (Although it makes me wonder why they didn’t know about Ming’s themselves, or if they had come to the restaurant without me!) Once in a while we’d go to a super authentic Chinese restaurant and my dad would point out his favorites from his youth, or tell me about the dishes that he couldn’t appreciate till he got older (like bittermelon), saying I might learn to eat it, too.
I did learn to eat all of these things, and I’m glad my dad made a point of talking about his favorite food memories … because now, when I find these simple, yet special dishes, I can savor each bite with my own memories of him. My dad may not be here anymore, but he can still be with me at dinner.
Ming’s Chinese Restaurant
1414 Dillingham Boulevard
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