Never Let a Great Meal Fall Through the Quacks
I love livin’ it up! Fabulous food frenzies are a blast, so it’s no surprise I take to them just as a duck takes to water. It’s always exciting brainstorming different foods to feature in my column each week — it never gets old. So, this week racking my brain for something new, I got all my ducks in a row and decided to spotlight a local Chinese favorite, a poultry dish of abundant flavor: Yes, it’s finally time we ruffled up some feathers and gave a quack for duck. What exactly makes duck so Ono, You Know worthy? Maybe it’s the fact that being waterfowl, ducks have a layer of heat-insulating subcutaneous fat between the skin and meat, resulting in one delicious meal, no matter how it’s served. And deboned duck breast can actually be grilled like steak, usually leaving the skin and fat on for a more succulent flavor. Onolicious!
Therefore, without further ado, come along with me, quack a smile and savor the most alluring duck creations at the following establishments.
Aina Haina Chop Suey
Aina Haina Chop Suey, formerly known as Duck Yun Chinese Restaurant, in Aina Haina Shopping Center is the place to be for home-cooked authentic Chinese cuisine. The family-owned restaurant opened its doors close to 27 years ago, and is following through with its mission of always providing a plethora of dining options for dine-in or takeout.
With more than 185 items on the menu, it’s easy to sample a bunch when dining family-style, but if you’re dining solo or prefer an individual entree, duck aficionados want nothing more than Aina Haina Chop Suey’s Soft Duck Noodle Soup ($13). This hot bowl of soup features a refreshing chicken stock soup base with assorted vegetables and succulent braised duck thigh meat.
“The meat is seasoned and is extremely tasty because it’s braised for a long time — it’s extremely tender,” says restaurant manager Julia Wong. “This soup is more well known by the older generation, but when people try it they really like it.”
Already a premier choice, go above and beyond and add won ton to your meal for 50 cents more.
“On Mondays, we offer Soft Duck Won Ton Noodle Soup as a lunch special from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m,” Wong exclaims.
So, you can only guess that paying a visit to Aina Haina Chop Suey is duck soup! Come hungry, of course, because there’s roast duck, Peking duck, stuffed duck and taro duck that grace the menu as well.
Aina Haina Shopping Center
820 West Hind Drive 373.1303 or 373.4632
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Canton Seafood Restaurant
Discover the best in Northern Chinese cuisine at Canton Seafood Restaurant. This Keeamoku Street eatery is open daily from 10 a.m. to midnight, and abounds with tasty entrees galore. And since we’re dishing on duck, manager Edwin Chan divulged a number of duck creations sure to lure in your appetite.
“We have Peking Duck ($18.99 half, $35.99 whole), Roast Duck ($15.99 half, $30.99 whole), and other lunch specials that center around duck,” Chan says. “Most locals like to order Peking Duck, and we have a lot of customers who says ours is the best.”
Canton Seafood’s Peking Duck is served on a large platter nestled in between hot, steamed buns and seasoned with a savory homemade plum sauce, equating to morsels of meat that are oh so tender and skin ever-so crispy.
“Our lunch specials cost around $6.99 and include Roast Duck, Roast Duck with Chicken or Roast Duck with Char Siu. Whatever your selection, it makes for a complete meal as its served with a mound of rice. And while all options are delicious in their own right, my favorite has to be Roast Duck with Char Siu. The sweet flavor of the pork and seasoned duck is a match made in heaven.
923 Keeaumoku St.
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Golden Palace Seafood
When you’re in the heart of Chinatown it usually means one thing: Good Chinese cuisine is just around the corner. Yes, that is totally the case when you find yourself at Golden Palace on North King Street — and you can’t miss it as there are gigantic Chinese pillars fronting the restaurant. Best known for its dim sum that is worth every penny, Golden Palace sure knows how to draw in a crowd. Yet there are a couple of items on the menu that could use some recognition as well. According to manager Gary Lam, Stuffed Duck ($30, whole) and Mochi Duck ($30, whole) are two decadent dishes that aren’t praised enough.
“Mochi Duck is one of those dishes that not many are familiar with, but it’s a very delicious dish,” he says. “The duck is deboned and then we stuff it with mochi rice, lap cheung, preserved meat, diced mushrooms and dried shrimp. Then we steam the entire duck, coat the duck with batter and fry it.”
It’s a comprehensive process, which is why Lam requests at least one day advanced notice when ordering this dish, along with Stuffed Duck.
Quite impressive. When preparing Stuffed Duck, chefs steam the entire duck and stuff it to the seams with a hearty stuffing comprised of lotus nuts, barley, diced ham and mushroom. Finally, the duck is steamed once again and doused in a special house gravy. However, I’ll give you a little inside scoop: If you ask nicely, Golden Palace will gladly swap the gravy for Jai (monk’s food), and that in itself is onolicious!
“Stuffed Duck with Jai is a variation that a lot of people like,” Lam confirms, “especially locals!”
111 N. King St.
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