Updated: Thursday is WYOTamale night at Wang Chung’s

Update Oct. 10, 2017: Due to overwhelming response, Wang Chung’s has added two more Tamale Sweatshop dates: Wednesday, Nov 1 and Thursday, Nov 2, 2017. You may purchase tickets to reserve your spot here.

I don’t want to scare you, but there are only 77 days until Christmas. Big box retailers already have seasonal decorations out and holiday music looping on the P.A. — it’s not even Halloween yet!


I’m mentioning this because Wang Chung’s, the friendliest karaoke bar in Waikiki, is hosting a tamale sweatshop wrapping party this week. You see, tamales are typically made in large batches and eaten during celebrations like Christmas and Dia De los Muertos (Day of the Dead). What better way to get into the holiday spirit than wrapping your own?



I never really experienced a proper tamale until I went to a Christmas Day party at a friend’s place in East Los Angeles four years ago. It was incredible to see the enormous pot full of perfect bundles steaming away under a tent. Unwrapping the corn husk to reveal masa tinged with red chile and the scent of pork was like Christmas 1996, when I unwrapped a Nintendo 64 game console — it was all I ever wanted. Aside from the taste, the best part of the tamale was that I didn’t have to share it with my cousins.


If you’ve eaten chef Randy Sanchez’s tamales at Wang Chung’s or one of Frolic’s Awesome eats pop-ups, then you know they’re a pretty big deal — partly because he rarely has time to make them. So this Thursday Sanchez is making the masa, the cornmeal paste that forms the central base of a tamal, with beef, chicken and beans. Then we’ll wrap our own dozen for $15. He’ll also have some tamales cooking up so we won’t go hungry. Yay for instant gratification!


To reserve your spot, you can either visit Wang Chung’s to pay, direct message Randy Sanchez on Facebook or send him the cash via Venmo (username @Randy-Sanchez-4) — no payment, no seat.

As Wang Chung’s owner Dan Chang likes to say, “you fold meow!”

Two years ago, Sanchez partnered with renowned chef Lee Anne Wong for a dumpling sweatshop at Wang Chung’s. With 20 pairs of hands folding for two hours straight, hundreds of dumplings were created and no one went hungry. My vote went to the crispy deep-fried chicken tamale dumplings. Expect more of the same fun on Thursday.

Chicken tamale dumplings from the dumpling sweatshop in June 2015.

The only thing that concerns me now is how long my dozen tamales will last. Definitely not 77 days. Dang it!

Tamale Sweatshop Take Two
Thursday, October 12, 2017
7 – 9 p.m.
$15, includes light food and a dozen tamales to cook at home
Reserve via Facebook Messenger, Venmo or in person

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
7-9 p.m.
$15, includes light food and a dozen tamales to cook at home

Thursday, November 2, 2017
7-9 p.m.
$15, includes light food and a dozen tamales to cook at home

Wang Chung’s Karaoke Bar
2424 Koa Ave (in the lobby of the Stay Hotel)