Getting Familiar with New Liu’s Delicacies
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It’s easy to get into a rut, especially when it comes to eating out. And while it’s all well and good to have a few trusted standbys on your dining radar, sometimes it’s nice to get off the well-traveled restaurant path in favor of exploring new horizons.
Take, for example, New Liu’s Chop Suey. Located near Longs in Kamehameha Shopping Center, New Liu’s can be easy to miss for those unfamiliar with the area. But once you step inside the restaurant’s doors and sample from its expansive menu of Chinese delicacies, you’ll discover why New Liu’s is a favorite spot among area foodies.
“We’re getting very popular now, so I want to introduce (some of our signature items) to newcomers,” says owner Henry Liu.
The best way to get acquainted with the New Liu’s menu is by ordering from the Daily Special lunch menu, where everything costs less than $5.
“We have more than 30 signature Chinese dishes for under $5,” Liu says. “We offer this for lunch all day long for the busy people who need to come and go fast.”
One of the most requested items on the menu is the Salt & Pepper Pork Chop with Rice ($4.75). Unique to the restaurant, this untraditional dish of two tender, seasoned pork chops over a bed of sticky rice follows a “forgotten recipe” Liu created himself.
“My master taught me the recipe, but I forgot it,” Liu says with a laugh. “Everybody does it differently, and the recipe I came up with for the pork chop is very flavorful. The taste, the guests like it, and all of the repeat customers order that.
“The pork chop has become a signature dish. It’s so popular here,” Liu adds.
Another signature at New Liu’s is the Stuffed Eggplant on Rice ($4.75). Derived from a Forbidden City recipe from northern China, the stuffed eggplant is deceptively simple yet intensely flavorful. Fresh eggplant is stuffed with ground pork, which is flavored with sesame oil and just a pink of salt, then covered is a slightly sweet-and-sour vinegar-base sauce that has just a hint of spice indicative of Beijing-style cuisine.
“If you don’t have an appetite, it’ll give you an appetite,” Liu promises. “When you don’t feel like eating, you’ll try this dish and go, ‘Oh, OK, I’ll have some more.'”
Leave room for the Minute Chicken Cake Noodle ($4.75), a mouth-watering medley of sweet chicken breast pieces and slightly salty cake noodle.
“We have quite a few signature items,” Liu says. “People love our prices and love our food.”
On the Side
Much has changed in the surrounding Kalihi neighborhood since New Liu’s Chop Suey opened in 2002. But, according to owner Henry Liu, one staple on the Chinese restaurant’s menu has always been the Honey Walnut Shrimp ($9.95).
“I always praise my shrimp. It’s always the best-seller,” says Liu. “My shrimp is different from other people’s. Once you taste my shrimp, you won’t want to taste other shrimp. You’ll remember it for the next 100 years.”
The seafood dish lives up to this promise, with a light, sweet flavor that comes for a special homemade batter that complements rather than overpowers the petite crustaceans. Fresh walnuts are added for a nice crunch and smooth taste that further complement the dish’s other components.
“My guests have to have the shrimp, or else they cannot sleep! Every time they come they have to have the shrimp before they walk out the door,” Liu attests.
Another favorite at New Liu’s is the Steamed Fish ($8.50/one piece). Actually, the steamed fish is not steamed at all; it is poached, a technique Liu says leaves the first-class sole fillet flaky and tender.
“Everybody steam, but we poach. It’s very different, the taste. Poached is less fishy (in taste),” he explains. “We season it with hot oil, shoyu, and of course ginger and onion. It is so simple but tastes so good.”
All menu items are available for takeout (in fact, Liu says 75 percent of business is to-go to accommodate customers’ busy lifestyle), and catering and private party options also are available.
“We do lots of parties on the weekends,” Liu says of the restaurant, which can hold up to 200 people at a single time.
For smaller parties, the restaurant offers three value party menus ($99-$140) that can easily feed 10 people.
“Our price is the cheapest in town,” Liu says of the $99 Menu A, which comes with Egg Blossom Soup, Sweet Sour Spareribs, Beef Broccoli, Salt & Pepper Shrimp, Steamed Fish, Oyster Sauce Chicken, Gon Lo Mein and Steamed Rice.
“It’s a lot of food for 10 people,” he adds.
Call ahead for reservations.
New Liu’s Chop Suey
- Kamehameha Shopping Center
- 1620 North School Street
- Honolulu, HI 96817
- (808) 841-8668
- Open daily
- 10:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.