No Mix Ups Here, Just Good Eats

Ali Carte Columns

January 26, 2014

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

It’s no secret to owners in the restaurant industry that surviving the first year of business can be tough. Even with a delicious menu of eats to share with patrons, a world of variables will need fine tuning for any eatery to catch on.

With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, Daniel Leung was aware of these challenges when he opened Asian Mix in May 2012, on the bottom level of the Safeway complex on Beretania Street. But through working tirelessly to fill the niche for a healthy and fresh, yet convenient takeout spot offering Japanese, Chinese and local-style flavors, the owner passed the first-year’s test with flying colors.

According to Leung, the journey hasn’t always been easy, but experimenting to find the right balance of plate lunches, bentos, a la carte items and catering options turned out to be a winning combination. “It’s gotten to the point where everything goes nice and smoothly,” he says. “It kind of took some time to do all the changes, (but) I think we’re up to the point that pretty much the bar’s set now.”

A driving force in Leung’s success has been his dedication to unmatched quality at every stage of the cooking process. Regulars continuously return for Shrimp with Honey Roasted Walnuts ($12.95), as more than 20 pieces of seafood are delicately covered in a house-made sauce prepared with fresh lemon juice, mayonnaise and condensed milk. Always going the extra mile for flavor, Asian Mix pre-cooks the walnuts in a syrup and water mixture before roasting and glazing them to crisp honey perfection. This ensures the nuts absorb sweetness and don’t dry out.

Recently, Leung also took a popular plate lunch item, Curry Chicken ($8.95), and added it to the a la carte menu for diners to enjoy whenever they please. A richly flavored blend of yellow Indian curry, coconut milk and a touch of chili pepper dress up a generous portion of chicken and onions.

“It’s the perfect dish to go with steamed rice,” says Leung, “and somehow it opens up your appetite and normally you’ll eat a little more than you expected to.”

With a successful lunch and dinner operation under way, Leung continues to expand the business. About a month ago, Asian Mix Tea Time debuted at the restaurant to offer shoppers, students and regulars alike a wide range of Taiwanese-style flavored drinks to slurp up after the lunch rush. In true Asian Mix form, unmatched attention to detail goes into every cup.

“We’re trying to concentrate on using fresh ingredients. For instance, we brew our tea every two hours, so we constantly have fresh tea available,” says Leung.

Sip away on everything from fresh Jasmine green and black teas, to flavored teas, milk teas, iced milk drinks, smoothies and yogurt drinks. Baby Plant Milk Tea ($4.25, 24 ounces) is especially popular with Oreo cookie powder and a fresh mint sprig sitting on top of fresh milk tea.

Peach Flavored Green Tea ($3.50, 24 ounces) is another refreshing must-have, according to Leung. “It also includes some rainbow jelly in there because it’s nice to have something to chew on when you drink the tea,” he says.

For patrons who prefer a creamier sip, Iced Milk Drinks ($3.75, 16 ounces) with fresh milk — no powders allowed — as well as various coffee jelly, tapioca pearls and custard pudding fillings hit the spot. Customers may order extra add-ons for an additional 50 cents each.

Now that Asian Mix is not only satisfying diners’ cravings, but quenching their thirsts as well, it seems Leung has found the perfect recipe for success.

Asian Mix

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

Honolulu, HI 96814

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best