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California Wok: Fine, Fresh and Flavorful Chinese Cuisine

Columns Order of the Day

August 28, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Located on the first level of Ala Moana Center,California Wok welcomes those from all “woks” of life searching for fine, tasty and healthy Chinese cuisine.

  • Shrimp with Mixed Vegetables ($8.29)
  • Chicken with Mixed Vegetables ($7.45)
  • Chicken Chow Mein ($7.95)
  • Beef Szechwan ($7.45)
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken ($7.35)
  • Cashier Yujiao Ni with California Wok's healthy cuisine.
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“People are always looking for low-fat (dining) options,” says owner Winnie Li, who has managed the eatery for the past five years. “We only use canola oil, fresh vegetables and we cook with fresh ingredients. When people call and order, the dishes are cooked to order (so everything is fresh).”

With the slogan “You never imagined that healthy Chinese food could be this tasty,” California Wok first opened in Hawaii in 2001, with the mission to provide locals with healthy, yet flavorful, Chinese cuisine. This standard still remains, according to Li, who points out that health-conscious customers can even see how many calories are in each menu item before deciding what to order.

“We print the calories on the menu,” Li explains. “We also print out whether the dish is spicy or not spicy (signified by a chili pepper). The happy face symbol stands for light or low-fat dishes.”

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., the restaurant offers customers a variety of menu items for lunch and dinner. Favorites on the lunch menu include Sweet and Sour Chicken or Pork ($7.35), Shrimp with Mixed Vegetables ($8.29), Shrimp with Asparagus ($8.45), Beef Szechwan Style ($7.45) or Mongolian Beef ($7.45). Items on lunch menu are served with steamed rice and salad.

“People who like white meat can order Chicken with Broccoli ($7.35) sliced white meat chicken with fresh broccoli in a light, delicious sauce or Chicken with Mushrooms and Pea Pods ($7.35),” Li says. “Our Crispy or Tender Orange Flavor Chicken ($7.35) and General Tzo’s Chicken ($7.99) are popular, too. The General Tzo’s Chicken is a little spicy and the sauce is tasty.”

Other popular menu items are Chicken with Mixed Vegetables ($7.45 half, $10.49 full) white meat chicken mixed with mushrooms, pea pods, fresh broccoli and carrots in a tasty brown sauce and Chicken Chow Mein ($7.95), panfried soft noodles served with bean sprouts and fresh scallions. While the eatery provides its customers with a large selection of Chinese cuisine, Li says that California Wok does not have a “signature” dish, because of the wide-ranging palates of its clientele.

“It really depends on the people,” she says. “Some people like chicken, shrimp or beef, while others are vegetarians. If they’re vegetarian, we offer them dishes with tofu or only vegetables. If they only like chicken or chicken breast, we’ll suggest our Lemon Chicken ($7.45 half, $10.49 full) or our Hot, Spicy Orange Flavor Chicken ($7.45 half, $10.49 full), which is fried. If they want soft chicken, we’ll offer Chicken with Broccoli ($7.45 half, $10.49 full) or Chicken with Asparagus ($8.59 half, $11.55 full).”

California Wok also offers party pans (available in medium and large sizes), featuring some of its most popular entrees such as Beef and Broccoli and Shrimp with Mixed Vegetables.

The majority of California Wok’s customers are workers from stores in Ala Moana Center who receive a 10 percent discount as well as office or hospital workers, according to Li. While dining in is a common option for the mall employees, California Wok’s takeout and delivery service are frequently utilized.

“We deliver from Ala Moana to anywhere within four miles,” Li says. “Delivery is free with a minimum order of $15.”

In the upcoming fall months, California Wok plans to expand its menu further with the addition of Shrimp Egg Foo Young Noodle Soup ($9.95).

“We’re going to make a noodle soup (called) Shrimp Egg Foo Young because this is a noodle soup,” Li says. “You can choose what type of noodle you want egg noodle, chow fun noodle or vermicelli noodle. We plan to add this dish (to our menu) in September or October.”

California Wok

  • Where
    • Ala Moana Hawaii’s Center
    • 1450 Ala Moana Blvd #1251
    • Honolulu, HI 96814
  • Call
    • (808)947-1332
  • Hours
    • Open daily
    • 10:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
  • Website