Pad Thai; Mystery Mu Shu

Jade Dynasty’s brand-new pork mu shu wraps. Jo McGarry photo

It’s one of the mysteries of culinary life, that with the escalating cost of food and utilities, ethnic mom-and-pop shops are still able to offer incredible value. As the price of putting out a plate has increased over the past couple of years, it’s remarkable that so many small restaurants are still able to offer lunch and dinner for under $10. A perfect example can be found at Bangkok Chef, where owner Patrick Chang offers great value in dozens of dishes for under $10, and a takeout plate lunch for just $6.65.

The popular Thai restaurant that began in a garage with a roll-up door on Nuuanu Avenue has expanded to three locations (Manoa and Nimitz), and Chang manages to keep a level of consistency throughout them all. Many of his simple, flavorful dishes have grown in popularity over the years, but none more so than the restaurant’s version of Pad Thai. It’s the No. 1-selling dish on the menu at all three restaurants, and sales show no sign of slowing. Less well-known, perhaps, are the restaurant’s baked goods and desserts. Homemade in the original Nuuanu kitchen, they’re often all sold out by mid-morning …

There’s a new item on the menu at Jade Dynasty that I’d go back for in a heartbeat. The dish – yet to be named – reminded me a little of mu shu pork: Tiny bundles of thin mu shu wraps are tied with bright green onion tops around moist, juicy roast pork pieces (complete with crunchy crackling) and served with a hoisin dipping sauce. The dish is just one of many new items being added to an already impressive list. I’m not sure how you’d order it, though. Jade Dynasty owner Sylvia Liang says they haven’t quite thought of a name. “It’s so new we haven’t decided what to call it yet,” she says.

I’ve a feeling people will be asking for it anyway.

Happy eating!