One of my earliest memories, besides the horror of being “dethroned” at the tender age of two by the birth of my baby brother (aka “The Golden Child”), is eating with my family at Tin Ying Chinese Restaurant in Wailuku.
My grandpa was and still is a big fan. We’d all meet at Tin Ying for his birthday, Grandma’s birthday, Auntie’s birthday, Dad’s birthday, pre-weddings, post-funerals, anniversaries, etc. Come to think about it, every major family event linked to my childhood involved Chinese food. Well, every event that wasn’t directly connected to my mom. See, Mom’s haole and likes, well, haole food like Panda Express.
Tin Ying has been around in the very same location for about 30 years. Over the years, family tastes changed and we’d have parties at other restaurants—Maui Beach, Golden Jade (which has been extinct for years), Dragon-Dragon and if my Mom has any say, Ruby’s. In fact, up until a few days ago, I hadn’t been in Tin Ying in years.
Tin Ying came under new ownership three years ago. At first I felt a little sting of nostalgia gone wrong. I guess I wanted to see if I could recreate childhood moments of eating fried shrimp and feeling like a kid again.
The exterior is the same. The interior is pretty much the same, except for an additional buffet line. And the menu is bigger.
I ordered Mooshu Chicken, Lemon Chicken and Beef Fried Rice to go. My bill was in the low 20’s. When I got home and unpacked the food, I was amazed at the big servings.
The Mooshu Chicken was delicious. You can also get Mooshu Pork. Both are these little thin pancake things wrapped around diced meat, cabbage and other veggies with this delectable sauce. It’s plummy, spicy, rich and delicious. The cabbage gives it this satisfying little “crunch” that balances out the juicy goodness of it all.
Just thinking about it makes me want to drive down the hill from Pukalani for a take-out order. Seriously–I’ll avoid a trip downtown from Pukalani at all costs.
To be totally honest, I’m not a Lemon Chicken fan. But my husband loves the stuff. I tried it and just couldn’t appreciate it, but he kept saying that the batter was really good and the flavor was right. He would know—he eats fried food two out of three meals a day.
I love fried rice, and have tried the dish from just about every Chinese restaurant on the island. I can honestly say that, in my opinion, Tin Ying has the best. Where other restaurants’ fried rice can be either too sticky, hard, fishy, dry, salty or just plain overwhelming, Tin Ying’s is perfectly balanced. The meat was tender, the veggies crisp and the rice itself was long grain. It was moist and fried just enough to make your taste buds beg for another bite. My one-year-old took 23 bites in a row, which should be some sort of record.
Believe it or not, Tin Ying has more than 150 items on the menu. Oh, and the buffet is possibly one of the best deals on the island—for lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. you can eat until you can eat no more for a mere $7.99. MTW