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Birthday Lunch at Wah Kung

Wherever you go on Oahu, chances are you’ll find a neighborhood Chinese restaurant or two. Even here in off-the-beaten-path, industrial Mapunapuna where we celebrated Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E’s birthday once again, this time at Wah Kung Restaurant, buried deep within the confines of Moanalua 99 Food Court, formerly known as 99 Ranch Market.

And we’re not talking about a make-shift Chinese takeout joint, but a FULL-ON Chinese restaurant, complete with all the requisite themed decor, and of course them infamous barely English, mostly Cantonese-speaking waitress ladies (I like to think of them as my distant-related aunties) that ask you questions in a heavy accent such as, “You like Fai Lai or Wai Lai?”. Excuse me? “Hey Pomai, she’s asking you if you want fried rice or white rice”. Ohhhhh. “I take Fai Lai, two odah, pee. Give me too, wah odah Shee Shau Shee and wah Duh Ay” (I’ll take Fried Rice, two orders, please. I’ll also have one order of Sweet & Sour Shrimp and one Duck Egg). LOL!!!

While we’re on the subject, in case you regular readers may recall me noting before, I once was a “jaded soul” when it comes to Chinese food, as my parents literally BURNT ME OUT on the stuff, having grown up in Kaneohe where we ate at Mui Kwai and Kin Wah practically EVERY WEEKEND from pretty much when I was a little kid, and all the way up through my teenage years. After that, I was so over it.

But I’ve since overcome my parents-induced “Burnoutphobia” for Chinese food, now finding it one of my newest culinary passions. I now LOVE THE STUFF! Weird how life works out that way.

So what get fo’ odah (so what shall we eat today) here at Wah Kung? Let’s check it out…

This is all there was on the back cover of the menu, which looks like some sort of Chinese sauce dispenser. But who knows, it just might be an ancient Bong the Chinese used for smoking Tea Leaves. “Here Ling Chow, have a hit.” LOL!!!…

Specials of the day…

Ah yes, Hong Kong style Chinese food would never be complete without Coleman’s Mustard and Shoyu dippin’ sauce…

And of course Chinese Black Tea…

First to land on the table is Honey Walnut Shrimp…

Angle B…

Immediately followed by a bowl of steamy-hot rice…

Minutes later followed by, well Minute Chicken!…

Notice on this order of Minute Chicken, Birthday Boy Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E opted to add Cake Noodle with it. CAKE NOODLE, BABY! Good call! Only in Hawaii.

Zoom in…

Less than a minute after Minute Chicken, Steamed Fish lands on the table…

Angle B…

Damned, that looks delicious. Angle C…

Last, but certainly not least, we have Stuffed Eggplant…

Angle B (the hover)…

And that’s it. For the five of us, that’s PLENTY of food. Plenty of delicious lookin’ Chinese food!

Let’s plate ’em up and give it a try…

As you’re probably aware of, I’m currently on a “meatless” diet (cough-cough), so didn’t take any Minute Chicken, but of course I MUST have some of the cake noodle served with it! Speaking of which, I didn’t know at the time that there was pork in the stuffed eggplant, which I thought  was stuffed entirely with Chinese Fishcake. Oh well, so there was some pork in it, no biggie. I’ll just drink an extra cup of green tea and run an extra 10 minutes to burn it off.

And how was the Stuffed Eggplant? Pffft. Dude. DUDE! THE BOMB! Seriously GREAT EATS. Super meaty, savory-deep ‘n delicious beefy oyster sauce goin’ on coating it all. Under that gelatinous coating of sauce, the eggplant had a delicate, light and crispy crust, which I’m guessing is cornstarch, while being tender “like buttah” in the meat of it.

That “stuffing” is actually a cap on the end of each eggplant slice, which in and of itself tasted like a fantastic clash between Pork Hash and Gobo Tenpura Fishcake. Fricken’ AWESOME! Yet for some reason, Diner A didn’t like it. Whatevahz, I LOVED IT.

Now let’s sample the steamed fish…

Specifically, this is Sole, a very common white-flesh flat fish from Samoa (nah, jus’ kidding lol) with a mild and delicate flavor. In this case, I’d say it was silky, smooth, being like a pillowed morsel of fresh fish goodness. It literally melts in your mouth, barely needing to chew it. The ginger, green onion and shoyu sauce was just what the doctor ordered to boost the mild flavor of the fish, without overpowering it. Another 5 Ume Musubi winner!

Let’s try the Honey Walnut Shrimp…

The shrimp itself was cooked perfectly, with a slightly crisp finish underneath the thick coating of Mayonnaise; the latter of which I thought was too much. Yet, when you eat it with the Honey-coated walnuts, that contrast makes it work, where you don’t notice the excessive Mayo’ as much.

Finally, let’s try the Cake Noodle (sans the Minute Chicken)…

It was spot on in both flavor and texture, however I think what it was missing is the sauce that I’m used to it being covered in from what I’m normally used to having on my Cake Noodle being Beef Broccoli, which is certainly one of my favorite classic Chinese dishes. What sauce there was on my piece from the Minute Chicken wasn’t as bold as and savory as that from Beef Broccoli. Other than that, very good Cake Noodle. 3 Ume Musubi.

The sum of its parts, I LOVED the food here at Wah Kung, eager to return to try more stuff! Excellent food at very reasonable prices, friendly, well-tended service and a nice, clean ambiance to boot. Highly recommended!

Before I finish, let me just show you a few art pieces they have on display…

Speaking of art in the performing category, who happens to sit right next to us for lunch is Taylor Wily, who plays the character Kamekona in the current rebooted hit series Hawaii Five-O, now filming for its third season…

Super cool braddah who was more than happy to take a photo with me. Mahalo Kamekona! It’s actually very common running into Five-O live sets all around town. Especially in downtown where their “Headquarters” are, Ala Moana, Waikiki and East Oahu.

Oh, for dessert, we had a fresh box of Napoleon’s Bakery (Zippy’s) pastries awaiting us back at the office, courtesy of Diner CMA (mahalo!)…

While I currently refrain from refined flour and sugar-laden treats, I couldn’t resist at least half of one of them buttery-delicious Coconut Napples (the two at the bottom right in the box). So ono, hit da’ spot!

One last thing, I didn’t realize there’s a lot more parking on the backside of Moanalua 99 Food Court, which is actually right where the door is to get into Wah Kung…

That off-ramp overhead coming into Mapunapuna gives you an idea how Rail will look when it’s in place, except there won’t be two pillars, just one larger one in the center.

Once again, Happy Birthday Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E! As always, great choice!

Wah Kung Restaurant
1151 Mapunapuna Street (at the very back of Moanalua 99 Food Court)
Honolulu, Hawaii  96819

Tel. (808) 833-0880

The Tasty Island rating:

(5) Superb. Worthy of repeat visits or purchases. (Broke Da’ Mout’!)

P.S. For today’s weigh-in, I actually went up a pound from my last one, going from 183.0 to 184.4 pounds. No biggie. However, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to make it down to 180 lbs. as I wanted to be at the end of this month. Even if I’m losing at a slower pace than expected, as long as I’m steadily going down, no matter how long it takes, that’s all that matters. People are already noticing how much better I look. I feel much better, and that’s all that matters.

Speaking of fitness, I’m THOROUGHLY enjoying the Olympics in London. The only competition I’m going to miss from the Winter games is Curling

Dude, that is by far the most WHACK game in the Olympics. LOL!!!

And here’s Mr. David Gilmour, an Englishman who happens to be THE GREATEST ROCK GUITARIST/SINGER/SONGWRITER walking our planet. You seriously need to watch the entire concert of either these two performances to fully embrace the God-given musical talent that is David Gilmour…

20 thoughts on “Birthday Lunch at Wah Kung

  • July 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm
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    Hey, nuthin’ wrong wit Kin Wah’s Boneless Minute Chicken with Cake Noodle (actually on my list of end-of-the-world meals), Beef with Sweet Sour Cabbage or Shrimp Fried Rice which hits your table about a minute after you order it…

    Reply
    • July 31, 2012 at 5:15 am
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      Ryan, ha ha, I should do a post on “Bucket List Meals”. I already said on Yelp, and I stand by that statement, that the very last meal I want on Earth is Shoyu Ramen from that very special Ramen shop, hidden in a deep, dark alley in Tokyo’s Ginza district, nearby Teikoku Hoteru.

      Speaking of which, Migration Mark is working on a piece about “meals worth traveling halfway around the globe for”, which I suppose are essentially what you could consider “bucket list meals”.

      Back to Kin Wah, a family friend of ours who I had lunch there with recently, told me their food has lost some of its flavor since the grandchildren took over the business. The original owner/cook was originally the head cook at Mui Kwai further down the street (which is now under the name “The New Mui Kwai”. Back in the day, Mui Kwai was THE Chinese restaurant in Kaneohe. Then when the cook left and started his own restaurant as Kin Wah, all the Mui Kwai patrons followed him, as did we. Kin Wah still looks the same. Same place, next to Masa and Joyce.

      I dunno, ‘the food I had there recently was pretty darned good.

      Reply
  • July 30, 2012 at 12:31 am
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    Pomai, first time saw minute chicken on top Hong Kong fried noodle and it looked good. I like to try it. In many part of Hong Kong and Manila they serve prawn salad it honey walnut prawn without walnuts it not popular with nuts. I guess soon no more shark fin soup for it much ban by people in Asia too.

    Reply
    • July 31, 2012 at 5:24 am
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      Kelike, Shark Fin Soup is one “delicacy” I’ve never tried, and, IMO, best left in the history books, as shark finning is a total atrocity born out of pure greed, not sustenance. More like contribution to complete destruction of the marine ecosystem. :-(

      Reply
  • July 30, 2012 at 12:35 am
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    Oh yeah why you wrote they use Coleman mustard? It Chinese hot mustard which dry powder they mix with water in big tub or large bowl and pour into little containers and jars to use and takeout.

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    • July 31, 2012 at 5:47 am
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      Keep in mind, Hong Kong was under British rule from 1847 to 1997, and there certainly was an influence on their cuisine (Colman’s Mustard is English; product introduced in 1814) from that, not to mention their speaking language. Several of our Hong Kong friends sounded like they were from London, not Hong Kong, even though they were Chinese. Quite odd, actually.

      Reply
      • August 1, 2012 at 6:17 am
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        Pomai, in Hawaii no Chinese restaurants use Coleman mustard. Hong Kong can use what ever and HongKongnese prefer hot mustard. One thing good many placs in Hong Kong you can speak English to many people to get around. Singapore also. Taiwan only with young people you could in Beijing young people learn in schools not older people at time .

        Reply
  • July 30, 2012 at 9:43 am
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    My favorite minute chicken cake noodle on the island is On On in Kapahulu. Also, boyfriend laughed at me when I said my favorite winter olympic sport is curling…

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    • July 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm
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      So is mine. Mostly because I like watching the Swedish women curling team.

      Reply
    • July 31, 2012 at 5:51 am
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      Jill and Pat, regarding Curling, you ARE joking, right? If not, all I can say is, you must have REALLY clean floors. lol

      Reply
  • July 31, 2012 at 10:10 am
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    Wow everything looks so tasty! I wish I could go to that restaurant! :)

    Reply
  • July 31, 2012 at 11:45 am
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    The size of the place and the menu remind me of the Golden Duck, from the early 70’s I guess that place is gone now.

    Reply
  • July 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm
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    I also grew up going to more than my share of multi-course meals…but damn that plate (especially the eggplant and fish) looks GOOD!

    Reply
    • August 2, 2012 at 6:16 am
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      Now that you mention it, remembering back to my “jaded days”, I think being a little kid in a Chinese restaurant setting can be overwhelming, as there’s just too much food to really appreciate each dish. As, as kids, we’re not inherently “foodies”, but just take what we’re served. So when you get too much stuff on the table, you actually lose focus and almost want to walk away from it all. Where you’re like, “folks, is there a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich anywhere nearby? Just give me that and I’ll be happy”.

      Ya’ know?

      Reply
  • August 2, 2012 at 8:22 am
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    Pomai,
    Food looks so good. Hard to find local style Chinese food here in Seattle. The spicy northern fare is more common over here. There is one consolation KauKau BBQ makes roast pork and char siu just like Hawaii. Although I hail from the 96744 my dad wasn’t much of a Mui Kwai or Kin Wah type. He preferred Golden Crown. They made the best roast pork harm ha. Can’t find that here probably because of the odor so I have to make it on my own.

    Reply
  • August 2, 2012 at 12:59 pm
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    Pomai, since I came back from San Francisco the Chinese food is indeed very different from Hawaii Chinese. My cousins from San Francisco like Hawaii Chinese food and minute chicken and kau yuk with steam buns. They like Patti Chinese Kitchen to them better than Panda any day.

    Reply
  • August 16, 2012 at 11:23 am
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    As a Hapai Local girl living in CA, I am dying right now looking at your cake noodle!!!!! There is nothing in my area up here that resembles cake noddle, must be a local Hawaii thing because people look at me crazy when I ask if they have it! Aloha!

    Reply
    • August 17, 2012 at 9:26 am
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      Maile, from what I hear, like Korean Meat Jun, Chinese “Cake Noodle” is almost exclusive to Hawaii. Surely other areas do a form of it, but not the same way. My sister’s favorite dish from Kin Wah in Kaneohe was their Cake Noodle. When I was a kid, I couldn’t stand the stuff, but now as an adult, I love it. Go figure.

      Reply

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