Hawaii: In Real Life ~ Sing Cheong Yuan

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I’ve posted about Chinese New Year before, but for the first time since I’ve been blogging, it’s my year — the year of the snake. If you want to get technical, it’s the year of the black/water snake, in 4710 (versus 2013, for you westerners).

Chinese New Year falls on February 10 this year, and that’s right around the corner, so I am going to do a mini-series of Chinesey things in Honolulu to help you prepare for the auspicious occasion. One of the more popular spots in Chinatown for the last 40 years or so has been Sing Cheong Yuan bakery, a one-stop shop for lucky dried fruits, li see candy, New year toong mai (puff rice cakes) and perennial favorites like gin dui, char siu bao, peanut candy, almond cookies and banana roll mochi. And no, I’m not trying to promote just one store; Sing Cheong Yuan really is the only place to go for all of these items at once.)

I’ve been following Liana Fang on Instagram, since her family has owned the store for the last five years. The family has always been camera-shy, but I figured Liana might be open to talking about some of the good luck symbols that they sell. (If you’re wondering, her cute, very Chinese mom is standing behind the camera calling out various details. I felt like I was at home!) I thought I knew it all, but as you will see in this video, I learned some new things, too.

We couldn’t fit everything into the first video, so visit HawaiiIRL.com to learn more! Like, why the heck would I keep a gau in my house until it’s moldy, and beyond? Also, note that when she says they’re “open 24/7,” they’re actually working around the clock, not selling.

Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery
1027 Maunakea St.
808-531-6688
Facebook: Sing Cheong Yuan
Email: aloha@singcheongyuan.com

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for the big celebrations, the big Night in Chinatown is February 2, where Maunakea St. is shut down for the day and filled with food booths, retail booths, entertainment (for which they are still soliciting acts), and a big parade. Choy Cheng is February 1, basically all the lion dance groups from Bethel to River Streets, and you don’t have to be Chinese to participate.

The Chinese Cultural Plaza will have celebrations January 25 and 26, February 1 and 2, and a bit on February 8 and 9. No major festivals are planned for Chinese New Year weekend, however since it falls on a Sunday.

Here’s an updated gallery from last year so you can use it as your guide during Chinese New Year. Be watching for more in this series so you can learn to be…Chinee like me!

Chinese New Year: a primer

Most of you will probably head to Sing Cheong Yuan on Maunakea St. to get your Chinese New Year treats, outside of the weekend festivals coming up. Depending on your taste, you will find an array of sweets and savories — some available year round, others only at New Year.

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22 comments
Aaron Chow
Aaron Chow

Yes it true of most Asia born do not know of family own religion.  Lucky my family does for parents taught us all family tree and culture to make sure not to forget where we came from.  I see the Sing Cheong Yuen owner know little of her own culture.  To her Buddhist and Taoists is the same but it not at all.  Taoists bring offering to temple and Buddhists do not.

 

She should know first before telling her daughter to say on video to public.

bettydalycity
bettydalycity

I watch the video and it seem the owner does not know the different of her own religion.  I grew up learning of my own and is 4th generations born in Hawaii Taoist.  To mislead her own daughter of it is not good.

Amy1
Amy1

 Melissa,

I see Sing Cheong Yuan is not sure of of her own religion for most of the Chinese are Taoists and goes to Kwan Yin Temple.  They do not bring offering to Buddhist temple.   All New Year Customs are base on Taoists not Buddhist.  Owner seem not sure of customs. 

It strange most people who born in Asia do not know own religion like my inlaws all these years thought their late mother was Buddhist but really a Taoist and hire Buddhist priest  which should been a Taoist.

 

M
M

I can't wait to eat my mom's Jai, it's better than anyplace else that I have eaten it.

M
M

Hello Melissa!

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

You know that I'm chinee too but what you didn't know is that I'm a snake too!

turkfontaine
turkfontaine

this will be the first time in 10 years that will miss the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco

nonstopmari
nonstopmari moderator

dang, i'm trying to clean out for new year's and u put up all this food! at least now i'll know what i'm buying and why. and jai can be part of my cleaning out regimen.

Annoddah_Dave
Annoddah_Dave

Delicate Blossom:  Is the sugaring of vegetables an ancient thing or something more contemporary? 

Nanigurl
Nanigurl

I knew you would include a picture of the good luck panties!  

WillL
WillL

My wife is Chinee like you.  But that doesn't rhyme!

 

Aaron Chow
Aaron Chow

 @Amy1

Amy , I think daughter should done researched first before being on camera to say things. Her mother does not know at all and making it up as she goes along.

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

 @M Oh, really???? Maybe I should be the judge of that! LOL

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

 @M happy new year fellow snake!

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

 @nonstopmari I need to do a jai segment but I'm picky about my jai and it's subjective.

turkfontaine
turkfontaine

 @Annoddah_Dave didja hear about the two Chinese potters sitting by the kiln in 1602? one of em says, "is this vase MING?"  the other one says, "they're all MING!''

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

 @Annoddah_Dave you ask hard questions! The answer is I don't know. But I assume it is an old technique, since things like salt or sugar also act as preservatives, yes? 

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

 @Nanigurl hahaha I tried to do it last year but it didn't flow with the theme. Finally! My underwear is up!

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

 @Aaron Chow  @Amy1 @bettydalycity Interesting commentary. Although I can say that the family is very camera shy (so they say!) so it was hard to have them show their expertise on camera. 

 

The mom did tell us later, off camera, that there's a distinct difference in the buying habits of local (ABC) customers vs. those that have come straight from China, for Chinese New Year. My maternal grandmother practiced Taoism but I'm 3rd generation ABC — she never taught us the purpose of many of these practices but we enjoy the tradition, despite not knowing the religious background.

WillL
WillL

 @Melissa808 I am.  Our finances would never be this way if it were run by  a Korean.  

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