HONOLULU -- The Australians at the next table caught our attention. They hadn't gotten to a barbecued-pork pastry, and hated to be wasteful. They were graciously offering it.
We were already well into an order of sweet, sesame-studded rolls for dessert. But oh, what the heck; anything for positive international relations.
Having eyes that exceed appetites is a common occurrence at a dim sum house, particularly at Legend Seafood Restaurant, reputed to be one of the better such establishments in Honolulu's Chinatown.
There's nothing notable about the decor -- a big, brightly lit hall, with light colors and tables that have an institutional aspect. The emphasis, instead, is on the tasty morsels that pass through the
Char siu (sweet barbecued pork) is a house specialty, and it can be found stuffed into dumplings, buns and the aforementioned pastries.
We were also pleased to find items prepared at table (because with dim sum, you never know how many trips around the dining room a particular item has taken). Cooked to order on the cart were sizzling pan-fried dumplings with shrimp and chives, among other delights.
On the negative side, we had to flag down some of the carts (at most such restaurants you have to wave them off), spinach was cooked within an inch of its life, and in a sea of tea-drinkers it's not the easiest place to get a beer. But on balance it's a tasty place to eat. And overeat.
For dinner, Indigo has long been one of our favorite restaurants in Honolulu, but on a recent visit we found that it has suffered from the explosive success of its bar, the Green Room, which has become one of the hottest clubs in Chinatown -- if not Honolulu.
A brick-walled courtyard hung with huge paper lanterns used to be an enchanting place to get a table for dinner, but now that area is often crowded with young club-goers, such that dinner customers must be content with a table in an adjoining room. But the din from the bar was deafening on a Friday night, such that people at a table for two must lean forward and shout at one another and the waiter must stoop down to detail the specials menu.
Service was inconsistent and seemed overwhelmed. We selected a wine to go with our starter courses, but they arrived before it did. When we brought this to the waiter's attention as he passed by, he seemed peeved, saying, "I'll get it as soon as I can" (which proved to be when we were nearly finished with the dishes).
Also disappointing was a main course of silver snapper. Indigo's strength has always been its Eurasian stylings with local ingredients, but this fish was tricked up with such an elaborate preparation that you couldn't tell what you were eating.
-- Legend Seafood Restaurant, 100 N. Beretania St., (808) 532-1868. Little Village, 1113 Smith St., (808) 545-3008. Indigo, 1121 Nuuanu Ave., (808) 521-2900, www. indigo-hawaii.com.