A Whole Lotta Wonton

Columns Ono, You Know

May 11, 2014

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Anthony Consillio

Happy Mother’s Day, Ono fanatics! Let’s get right to it, because this week I am beyond excited to share my love for a dish that remains so close to my heart. My passion for food abounds now more than ever, and it’s time to share my obsession with wonton soup. So, you all know just how much I eat and how much I love to eat, but let’s be real here: Wonton soup is more than amazing. These pork-filled dumplings are addictive, and as with potato chips, when it comes to wonton, I literally can’t stop. After about a dozen dumplings, I usually reach my limit. It’s as if my stomach is about to burst — it’s not the most comfortable feeling in the world, mind you, but it’s totally worth it! What’s even better is dipping each dumpling in a blend of hot mustard and shoyu. Too good!

You think I’m joking? Funny thing is, I’m not. Maybe having been raised on wonton soup and getting into the habit of making wonton with my grandparents at an early age has made my bottomless pit of a stomach immune to these scrumptious local-style Chinese dumplings. Who knows? But whatever it is, it takes a lot of wonton to fill me up.

So, what a pleasure it was for me to pay a visit to the following Ono, You Know establishments to indulge in all the wonton soup I could ever ask for. Believe me, I have a hard job, folks — but somebody’s gotta do it! Yet, somehow I feel as if all that wonton has made me “one ton” heavier! Go ahead, laugh away, because I’m laughing with you.

Fairwood Drive Inn & Ramen Diner

Fairwood Drive Inn & Ramen Diner’s Vietnamese Cuisine in Kaimuki Shopping Center is your one-stop shop for Chinese and local-style favorites. On my most recent visit to the eatery, I asked owner Tiffany Ko if she could amaze me with wonton soup. But who am I kidding? Of course, she can! The amount of time and preparation that wonton soup requires is not easy, but Ko is confident that her Wonton Soup is one of the best.

Priced at $7.95, Fairwood’s Wonton Soup comes to life with a savory filling of chopped pork, sliced shrimp, dried fish and egg lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, and droplets of sesame oil. Carefully placed onto a Hong Kong-style wonton pi (wrapper), Ko folds it into a perfect dumpling shape. This may look easy to some, but Ko insists there is a particular folding method that, when properly done, results in beautiful dumpling form.

“We wrap our wonton fresh every morning, and then we cook to order” explains Ko, who shares that 50 gallons of soup is made every day on average.

“It takes close to four hours of cooking time on average, but the soup’s end result is worth it. Thirty to 40 pounds of chicken bone are boiled with round onion and ginger to make a clean and flavorful soup. By the time we close the restaurant, we’re usually sold out of Wonton Soup,” says Ko.

So, wonton soup lovers, next time you plan on savoring Fairwood Drive Inn’s Wonton Soup, go early — and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Fairwood Drive Inn & Ramen Diner
Kaimuki Shopping Center
3221 Waialae Ave.
739-6688 (Fairwood)
738-0027 (Ramen Diner)

Plumeria Beach House

Fall into the lap of luxury at Plumeria Beach House, an open-air restaurant situated in The Kahala Hotel & Resort. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner service, casual elegance abounds. And the cuisine? Well, it’s avant-garde, to say the least. Guests are welcome to partake in the restaurant’s lavish buffets as well as exquisite a la carte selections.

Browse the menu and your mouth will start to water at the mere description of the dishes. How in the world am I to decide on an entree? But then, my eyes divert to Won Ton Soup ($20). Available for both lunch and dinner, Plumeria Beach House’s Won Ton Soup will fulfill any craving with ramen noodles, pork and shrimp dumplings, shrimp tempura and a blend of Asian vegetables.

Plumeria's Won Ton Soup ($20)

Plumeria’s Won Ton Soup ($20)

“We have a Hong Kongese chef that’s been preparing our wonton soup stock for years. He finds inspiration in his pride to create the best broth. Most Hong Kongese are very particular about their wonton broth — their reputation is at stake,” says Hue Oldham, public relations and marketing manager for The Kahala Hotel and Resort.

“Any wonton soup connoisseur can tell you it’s about the broth and dumplings, and their wrappers are very close behind.”

A bowl of clear broth is the perfect accompaniment to generous pieces of wonton, which consist of pork and shrimp wrapped in a delicate flour wrapper. Starchy wrappers tend to mask the dumpling’s savory filling, but not this one — the pork and shrimp release an abundance of flavor. No wonder Won Ton Soup ranks at the top of my favorites list.

Plumeria Beach House
The Kahala Hotel & Resort
5000 Kahala Ave.
739-8760

Shiro’s Saimin Haven

Growing up in the Islands, I was practically raised on saimin — and wonton min, for that matter. With that said, Shiro’s Saimin Haven in Waimalu Shopping Center was the place to be for oodles and oodles of noodles. We’re talkin’ more than 60 saimin selections. Now, for the noodle fanatic, that’s right up there with Christmas morning, so it all boils down to picking your favorite dish.

My ideal choice is Wun Tun Min ($6 medium, $7.80 large, price doesn’t include bok choy in soup), hands down! But I must add that I do adore Shiro’s Wun Tun Soup ($6.10 medium, $7 large) just as much. They both evoke the same great flavor, the only difference is that Wun Tun Soup is sans noodles.

Shiro's Wun Tun Soup ($7 large)

Shiro’s Wun Tun Soup ($7 large)

“What makes our wonton unique is that the wonton pi is homemade in our noodle factory, and the wonton filling also is made from scratch, featuring ground pork, green onions and a blend of spices,” explains manager Aaron Lee, noting that the flavor-filled soup consists of a clam base with dashi.

Both Wun Tun Soup and Wun Tun Min are served with bok choy and garnished with kamaaina necessities, including char siu, green onions, luncheon meat and egg roll.

Slurp on up at Shiro’s Saimin Haven!

Shiro’s Saimin Haven
Waimalu Shopping Center
98-020 Kamehameha Hwy.
488-8824