The inside scoop at Hung WonAli Carte Columns
June 22, 2014
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Nathalie Walker
When Kevin Li and two of his uncles decided to open Hung Won Seafood Restaurant on March 23, their goal was to serve the community with upscale Cantonese-style cuisine. By staying away from heavier dishes and preparations, Li and his team are succeeding with a traditional approach to cooking.
“I know a lot of people think, ‘Oh, Chinese food is not that healthy,'” Li says, “but we use a lot less oil and the seasonings are lighter, so it’s healthier that way.”
Li’s uncles Juwei and Guanqiang Ruan run the kitchen at the Kaimuki eatery, and as former chefs at authentic Chinese restaurants, both of them bring more than 20 years of experience to Hung Won’s table.
While the establishment has only been open for three months, its menu has already made a lasting impression on customers. According to Li, there are even more delectable specials for diners to take advantage of that aren’t listed on the dine-in and takeout menus. Below, he shares these hidden treasures with Dining Out readers.
Kau Yuk ($13.95) is a Cantonese specialty that most people won’t take the time to prepare at home because it requires a laborious cooking process. Diners who need their fix of it can stop into Hung Won, where Kau Yuk is made the traditional way.
First, pork is cooked in boiling water and then deep-fried. The next step is to tenderize the skin for three to four hours to allow the meat to absorb flavors throughout the cooking process. Then, the excess oil is removed and the pork is cleaned before it’s stewed once more with a blend of five Chinese herbs and spices, as well as oyster sauce and sesame oil.
“It turns out to be a really delicious dish,” says Li, noting that Kau Yuk comes with a choice of taro or mui choy (salty, preserved Chinese cabbage).
Another gem not listed on the menu is BBQ Ribs ($9.95 per pound), complete with a dose of Chinese flair. The rib marinade resembles char siu, resulting in mouthwatering meat that takes on flavorful hints of honey and spices. Hung Won prepares BBQ Ribs every day, as one taste is enough to turn any ribs craving into a full-blown obsession.
Be sure to ask about Lap Cheong with String Beans ($9.95) when visiting the restaurant as well. Like many of the menu items, this sharable dish is great for family-style get-togethers. Sweet and savory bites of lap cheong sausage are stir fried with crisp string beans, carrots, mushrooms and oyster sauce.
Now that you’re in the know, you’ve got to reveal these secrets for yourself.
Hung Won Seafood Restaurant
3434 Waialae Ave. (Between 8th and 9th Avenues)
Daily, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.