Cheers to a Star-Spangled Potluck
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for July Fourth to arrive. It will signal the most anticipated event of the summer for many a food-enthusiast: the one-and-only Independence Day barbecue, which will leave us filled to the brim with hot-off-the-grill hamburgers, hot dogs and maybe even some All-American ice cream, if we’re lucky.
As we get ready to salute the red, white and blue, I always think of my family’s tradition of closing out our holiday with a trip to Lappert’s Hawaii at Hilton Hawaiian Village. We pick up a double-scoop cone of ice cream just in time to head to the beach and catch the fireworks show off Magic Island.
With these memories at the forefront of my mind, I’m already in celebration mode and starting to think about the perfect item to bring to the potluck-style barbecue I’ll be attending this year. When it comes to potluck dishes, I want it all — something convenient and affordable, yet hefty enough to share with my friends and family, and most importantly, something that will remain flavorful throughout the day.
I figured, what’s the harm in getting the party started a little early this year at the following Ono You Know establishments? I’m doing the prep work — with a visit to the beach thrown in there — to ensure we’ve all got great options to pick up in a breeze while en route to our potlucks.
Hung Won Seafood Restaurant
No island get-together would be complete without some of our favorite local dishes added to the mix. I knew I would find the best in Chinese comfort foods at Hung Won Seafood Restaurant in Kaimuki, where upscale Cantonese-style cuisine is served up on a daily basis.
In addition to a dazzling a la carte menu, Hung Won offers upwards of 30 party trays to meet your catering needs. Some of the most sought-after items are Pork Chop with Spicy Salt and Pepper, and a Pupu Platter consisting of Roast Pork, Gau Gee and Char Siu.
As for our upcoming beachside picnics, co-owner and general manager Kevin Li has the perfect selection in mind. Stir-fried Gon Lo Mein with chicken or house-made char siu is made to last with firm egg noodles, cabbage, onions and carrots in soy-based seasonings.
“As you can see, this one can keep for several hours, or it’s even good for the next day, because you just heat it up,” says Li, adding that the quality of the egg noodles allows them to stay fresh for a long time. “Some other noodles become really soggy or their taste maybe changes, but this one is really easy to keep. That’s why a lot of people like it — especially for potlucks.”
The small tray, which equates to three and a half orders, is offered at a special price of only $16.95 (regularly $22). Medium ($32), large ($42) and extra large ($60) trays also are available.
As an added bonus, if you find yourself in a rush and forget to order a potluck item, advance notice isn’t needed to order Gon Lo Mein. You can call in an order, go to pick it up, and be on your way to Fourth of July bliss in no time.
Hung Won Seafood Restaurant
3434 Waialae Ave., Kaimuki (Between Eighth and Ninth avenues)
When going to potlucks, one of the primary orders of business is ensuring that whatever you bring will be enough to share with all the guests in attendance. Even better is when the dish presents enough variety to please any palate. Kozo Sushi is one of Hawaii’s leaders in providing just this kind of fare, as its portable sushi platters are a long-loved island tradition.
You can’t go wrong with Deluxe Maki Set ($28.99), which contains eight pieces each of California maki, futo maki and egg maki. It also boasts six morsels each of cucumber hosomaki, kanpyo hosomaki, shinko hosomaki and ume hosomaki. For a touch of sweetness, four inari round out the platter.
At Kozo, there are many trays to choose from, to ensure diners find exactly what they’re looking for. “Kozo Sushi’s platters are a great option for parties because there are a variety of platters that fits everyone’s needs,” confirms Kozo Sushi Office assistant manager Maricel Cadiz.
Another fantastic option is the Sukeroku Set ($22.50), featuring 24 pieces of the futo maki and 12 pieces of inari.
Cadiz adds that “the Deluxe Maki Set and the Sukeroku Set are available at Kozo Sushi Keeaumoku, Pearl City, Moiliili, Kahala and Pearlridge locations.” She confirms that they may be picked up anytime during store hours, but that phone orders are recommended and should be placed at least two hours in advance for kamaaina.
1029 Makolu St., Pearl City (in addition to four other locations)