Some Like It Hot
Happy Sunday, Ono readers! If you don’t know it yet, I’m a fiend for the spicy. Yes, my palate prefers intense levels of heat, and when it comes to my favorite cuisine, the hotter the better. I’ve even been known to carry a mini bottle of Tabasco sauce in my purse from time to time, and I can eat jalapenos like candy. OK, maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch, but I do love ’em!
Where to find more of the burn? Right here. This week, I’ve decided to up the ante and bring life to fire-breathing fare at the following Ono, You Know establishments. They are dynamite!
Red House in Honolulu
My first stop this week was to the newly opened Red House in Honolulu. Conveniently located on Keeaumoku Street, this trendy and modern establishment entered Hawaii’s dining scene this past December and serves up the finest in Korean cuisine. Yet, what’s more is Red House’s unique take on your traditional Korean favorites.
“We offer a blend of Korean and American fusion,” says owner Justin Chun. “For example, on our menu you’ll find an appetizer of Korean Noodle on Garlic Bread ($6) and Bulgogi Rice Pizza ($12).”
This time however, Chun turned up the heat and presented me with the ever-popular Red House Boneless Moa ($17.99 grand opening special, $24 regular price) and Jjolmen ($20, serves two people). Now, if you’re asking yourself, what is Boneless Moa? Let me tell you. It’s the most tasty mound of chicken wings you and your taste buds have ever experienced. Served family-style, these chicken wings are finger-lickin’ good, featuring 16 to 22 pieces of bite-sized crispy fried chicken glazed with a blend of spicy Korean kochi jun sauce and Korean honey. Finally, it’s topped off with bits of chopped garlic. Next, Jjolmen is a vegetarian’s premier choice, consisting of thick buckwheat noodles surrounded by an assortment of vegetables including bean sprouts, purple cabbage and mixed greens.
“If someone requests a spicy dish, this is what we definitely recommend because it’s mixed with kochi jun sauce (Korean chili paste), and we can make it hotter if asked,” Chun states.
So, step into Red House in Honolulu and let the dulcet tones of K-pop music accompany your choice of food. And if you dare, raise the temperature for your taste buds — super-spicy food is standard in Korean fare, so you know it has to be good!
835 Keeaumoku St. #I-101B
View the Map
Wailana Coffee House
At all hours of the day or night, Wailana Coffee House is my top choice for local grinds, and here at this landmark eatery in the heart of Waikiki, spicy is the name of the game.
“We’re not known for our spicy foods, but we do have a couple on the menu such as Steak and Spicy Shrimp ($13.25) and Hot and Spicy Chicken Wings ($11.50),” says general manager Kenton Tom.
Hot and Spicy Chicken Wings is the spicier of the two, and spotlights seven delectable pieces of marinated chicken seasoned with just the right amount of cayenne and white pepper. Served with a side of carrots and french fries, this meal isn’t for the faint of heart. You’ll notice a bit of a kick with the first few bites, but once you get to your sixth chicken wing, it’s like an electric shock to the stomach — in a good way, of course. Don’t worry, though, bleu cheese dressing accompanies the dish in order to tame the heat. For a heartier meal, with a lower heat intensity, opt for Steak and Spicy Shrimp, which features a 5-ounce top sirloin with morsels of shrimp flavored with garlic butter and a dash of cayenne pepper over a bed of pasta. Both seemingly delicious, will you take the challenge? Don’t let the blazing spices get the best of you — there’s plenty of water to cool your palate.
1860 Ala Moana Blvd.
View the Map
Golden Palace Seafood
When in Chinatown, you can’t miss this hot spot on North King Street. Known for some of the cheapest dim sum in town, Golden Palace Seafood makes mouths water with its onolicious Northern-style Chinese cuisine. And since I was making my rounds in the spicy department this week, manager Gary Lam dished about one of the spiciest items on the restaurant’s menu.
“Our Szechuan-Style Shrimp ($10.95) is spicy,” Lam says. Straight to the point, Lam doesn’t skip a beat, “Northern-style dishes generally have more spice to it.” Szechuan-style Shrimp presents diners with a symphony of tiger shrimp, diced green onions, minced garlic and chili pepper.
“We also can add a chili paste if it’s not hot enough for your liking,” Lam explains.
So, if you think this zesty dish is almost too hot to handle, then you clearly are in need of more chili paste!
111 N. King St.
View the Map