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Putting the ‘Fun’ in Chow Fun

Columns What's for Lunch?

November 10, 2013

Story By: Rachel Breit | Photos by: Rachel Breit

Lately in the culinary-sphere, fusion foods have been forefront. Chefs are surfing the wave of trendy food mash-ups. Often their creations stand up (Hello, cronut!), but sometimes they wipe out — the results of which can be bewildering. However, we can’t fault chefs for playing with their food.

Enter Chow Fun with Yellow Curry ($8.95), and dig into the toothsome tangle of thick rice noodles coated in yellow Indian curry and stir-fried with shrimp, barbecued pork, egg, onion, bell pepper and bean sprouts. The Indian spices, usually associated with creamy curry, cubes of potatoes or browned brassicas, add a kick to the soft noodles — the fusion of which is anything but confusing. And actually, the welcomed fusion isn’t a new fangled novelty; it’s been on the menu at Asian Mix for decades, since before the casual eatery opened as a new home for its more formal restaurant. “We’ve been using this (curry) for the past 20 years,” explains Daniel Leung, Asian Mix co-owner. “We have the same cooks, the same recipes and the same ingredients.” And as a boon to those avoiding wheat, as Leung states: the “fun” in chow fun means “rice flour.”

Going back to its Chinese roots, the eatery offers diners B.B.Q. Pork & Ginger Chicken on Rice ($8.95). “We’ve done really excellent in the roast meat department, ” Leung says, referring to the golden honey-roasted pork, the lean cuts of which are handpicked by the kitchen staff to ensure the best in texture. The caramelized exterior yields to tender grains of meat, balanced with a sweet, salty taste and the pungent flavors of Chinese five spice. The poached chicken is elevated with a slathering of bright ginger sauce, made with the right portions, “more onion than ginger,” says Leung.

Craving a mix of flavors? The namesake Asian Mix Plate (one side, two choices for $7.45) hits the spot. “The portions are very generous,” says Leung. For the sides, pick any one or two combined for a “half and half” option. They include fried rice, noodles, chow fun, steamed vegetables or steamed rice. The two most popular entrees are the zest-infused orange chicken and the beef and broccoli, rich with oyster sauce. Vegetarian entrees are plentiful also, and all sides are made without meat. “We have really nice steamed vegetables,” Leung attests.

There’s something besides just culinary delights that satisfies at Asian Mix. It’s the personalized attention customers receive from Leung and his long-term staff, who remember names and even the favorite dishes of diners. Ask Leung what his credo is for customer service? Before he can answer he jumps up to shake hands with a customer, or even to give a hug. “Oh hey, how are you?” he asks. “Good to see you again.”

For Leung, the money-making aspect isn’t paramount. Customers are first, and many have followed the eatery to its current location. “You get to know people like friends and family,” says Leung. Affordable pricing is key too, and Asian Mix makes sure not to inflate costs. Quality control is also important. “We go for the best quality. We aren’t trying to save a couple dollars,” says Leung. Coupled with fast turn around, “usually 10 to 20 seconds and you can get out if there is no line,” Asian Mix can safely be added to anyone’s lunch rotation.

Asian Mix

1234 S. Beretania St., Honolulu
521-1688
Open daily, 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

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