Fairwood’s Asian-style Favorites are Pho-tastic

Columns Lite Bites

January 19, 2014

Story By: Yu Shing Ting | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

It’s always so exciting to eat at a new place, and while Fairwood Drive Inn and Pho 27 Vietnamese Cuisine has been open in Kaimuki for the past three years, I finally went there for the first time last week.

Yes, the restaurant has two names — Fairwood Drive Inn is for the front of the restaurant, which features a fast-food, takeout concept with seating, and Pho 27 Vietnamese Cuisine is the contemporary, family-friendly dine-in restaurant in the back.

The name “Fairwood” was carried over from its previous location on Keeaumoku Street, where it stood for 18 years serving Canton-style Chinese food and local favorites. Pho 27 represents Vietnamese food offerings that owners Tiffany Ko and husband Raymond have added to the menu. As for the No. 27, it comes from the restaurant’s phone number, which ends with 27.

Among the must-try dishes is Oxtail Pho (which also can be ordered as Ox-tail Soup with Rice, $12.95) featuring big, chunky pieces of meat, mushrooms, peanuts, carrots and cabbage, fresh pho noodles, and a side of chopped ginger shoyu sauce.

Also popular is Braised Steak and Honey Garlic Chicken ($12.50) served with deep-fried boneless and skinless chicken, braised steak and potatoes, tossed salad with house dressing, rice and soup. Ko notes that the chicken contains no fat and is always cooked in fresh oil. The braised steak is cooked similar to Chinese-style pot roast, which makes the meat very soft and tender.

Another customer favorite is traditional Chinese-style Beef Chow Funn ($8.75) with bean sprouts, onion and a splash of oyster sauce. It also can be ordered with chicken or char siu in place of beef.

And in celebration of Chinese New Year (Jan. 31), the restaurant offers Jai ($8.25) for a limited time. Traditionally enjoyed on Chinese New Year, Fair-wood’s version of the vegetarian dish consists of black mushrooms, fungus, lily flower, tofu, bean curd, won bok, long rice, snow peas and carrots.

Ko, who is originally from Canton, China, moved to Hawaii in 1988. She says she learned to cook from her father, who was a chef in China, and notes that many of the dishes on the menu are inspired by what she ate growing up.

“I would stand on a small chair in the kitchen and help my dad,” she recalls. “And we didn’t have electric stoves back then.”

Known for its tasty food, generous portions and reasonable prices, Fairwood Drive Inn and Pho 27 Vietnamese Cuisine has quickly become a favorite eatery for many locals, including entertainer Jimmy Borges. The food is cooked to order, and the restaurant only uses vegetable oil. The family-run business is conveniently located in Kaimuki Shopping Center, and there is plenty of free parking.

So, if you haven’t dined at Fairwood Drive Inn and Pho 27 Vietnamese Cuisine, it’s worth checking out.

Fairwood Drive Inn & Pho 27 Vietnamese Cuisine

Kaimuki Shopping Center
3221 Waialae Ave.
739-6688 (Fairwood) 738-0027 (Pho 27)
10 a.m.-9 p.m daily

Honolulu, HI 96816

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