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Ono, You Know

A Food Frenzy Springs From Spring Rolls

By Alana Folen Photos By Leah Friel
June 9, 2013

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Recently, I’ve been eating like a mad woman on a rampage. And it’s not only what I’ve been eating (burgers, fries, bowls of pho, peanut butter shakes and scoops of ice cream) that’s a little fanatical, but the portion sizes of these glorious treats. I’ve been told “moderation is key” how many times, but you must understand, I’m not the type of gal that can have one bite of a heavenly dish and be satisfied. If I like something, it’s safe to say I’m going to eat it all! Last weekend, I demolished a 14-ounce burger with all the fixings that quite honestly put some men to shame. So, don’t be fooled by my frame, because truth be told, I can eat like a pig.

So, let’s get down to it! What’s in store for my belly this week? Well, my food frenzy is on a roll, so why not continue with spring rolls? The perfect pick-me-up when hungry, these popular appetizers are like complete meals wrapped up in deep-fried, crispy goodness. You’ve got your protein, veggies and carbs all in one bite. How convenient is that?

Here at the following Ono, You Know establishments, I couldn’t wait to bite into these glorious edible masterpieces, all equally delicious and heavenly. Bring it on! it’s time to work up an appetite and get serious about spring rolls.

Restaurant Epic

In the heart of Chinatown is a gem of a restaurant worth mentioning. Enter Restaurant Epic, a trendy establishment that gives way to an eclectic variety of fabulous fare bombarded with flavors.

Drop on by and feast your taste buds on Grilled Pork Spring Rolls ($6).

A Restaurant Epic original, Grilled Pork Spring Rolls are filled to the brim with shredded seasoned kalua pork, shredded carrots and cabbage, and deep-fried a beautifully crisp golden brown.

Bite right into these four pieces of voluptuous spring rolls and you’ll be in fantasy land. According to owner and chef Brian Chan, the secret to this good stuff is in the preparation of the pork.

“We rub the pork shoulder with our 16-spice rub, which has some paprika, fennel, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin, onion powder and other great spices in it,” he explains. “Then, we let the pork absorb the rub for a day and finally we smoke it for about eight hours.”

It’s a long process, but the end result is absolutely gratifying. The taste is perfectly salty and sweet — it’s like a vacation for your mouth — and the zest of the cayenne pepper is nicely revealed.

“To finish off the spring rolls, I pair it with a sweet chili sauce,” Chan says.

The flavors are bold, adding to the already “epic” dining experience.

Restaurant Epic
1131 Nuuanu Ave.
587-7877

Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant

The spring roll madness continues at Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant in Ala Moana Center’s Hookipa Terrace. When the dim sum craving hits — it’s intense — and this Hong-Kong style restaurant offers up a plethora of fabulous dim sum options.

In fact, when I mentioned to general manager Gary Chan that it was spring rolls I was after, he, along with his staff, not only presented me with the renowned Imperial Rolls with Taro & Chinese Sausage found on the menu, but Jade Dynasty also created two delectable “offthe-menu” spring rolls especially for Ono, You Know! Aren’t we lucky?

Prawn Salad Spring Rolls (two rolls, $6.50), a traditional spring roll filled with diced prawns, carrots, egg whites and a bit of mayonnaise, along with Imperial Roll with Soft Shell Crab (one roll, $8.95), a unique spring roll that consists of taro with soft shell crab, are so ono and only available for a limited time.

“Our Imperial Rolls are not your average spring rolls,” Chan explains. “The spring roll wrap is not smooth, it’s flaky and fluffy, and fun to eat. Surprisingly, this new wrap is not too oily either. It’s very light.

“Imperial Roll with Soft Shell Carb and Prawn Salad Spring Rolls will be available upon request for a week starting today,” he reveals.

Thankfully, I’ll always have my fill of Imperial Rolls with Taro & Chinese Sausage. Priced at $4.50 for two rolls, these rolls present morels of salty and sweet Chinese sausage (my favorite) and pieces of taro wrapped in a deep-fried, flaky crust. Simply amazing! The blend of textures and flavors is on point.

All spring rolls are available daily during dim sum hours from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant
Ala Moana Center, Hookipa Terrace
947-8818

Pagoda Restaurant

Pagoda’s recent makeover is spiffy. Step into the Rycroft Street eatery and you’ll be met with new carpet, decor, a fresh paint job and a bar. Known for its local fare and American favorites prepared by executive chef and owner Jason Takemura, Pagoda lures in a crowd of creative diners who love dishes with extra pizazz, such as Kalua Pig and Shrimp Spring Rolls ($6) and Kalua Duck Spring Rolls ($7).

A popular appetizer among the lunch crowd, Kalua Pig and Shrimp Spring Rolls are the talk of the town, as two enormous rolls of deep-fried goodness are stuffed with shredded kalua pig and shrimp sauteed in sesame oil and ginger. Carrots, cabbage, cellophane noodles and wood ear mushrooms are flavored with a special sauce and added to the spring rolls as well. A splash of Mandarin chili sauce composed of hints of orange juice, ginger and sesame seeds give the dish a nice kick. You really can’t go wrong with a sweet-and-sour flavor profile.

Then, come back for happy hour and dinner, and relish in Kalua Duck Spring Rolls, a succulent take on the aforementioned lunch starter.

“I’d consider this to be an upscale spring roll,” Takemura says. “We roast the duck kalua style, shred it off the bone and season it with fried garlic and hoisin sauce. I also add bean sprouts, carrots, cilantro and green onions to the roll.”

My favorite part of this dish lies in the kimchee hoisin sauce, which complements the already superb creation. Voila! It’s time to eat!

Pagoda Restaurant
1525 Rycroft St.
948-8356