Wang Chung’s held a private tasting party two weeks ago on Thursday, March 19, 2015, for the official debut of their new pupu menu to compliment their also new “Bigger Wang” Karaoke bar in Waikiki.
Wang Chung’s recently relocated to the STAY Hotel in September 2014, just steps away from their original “Little Wang” spot, which opened in September 2009.
Everyone actually loved “Little Wang’s” at their old location because it was so small, you HAD to help each other sing and buy drinks. We’re talking so small, some homes have bedroom closets bigger than what “Little Wang’s” was.
Fortunately in an ironic twist of the notion, while the new “Big Wang’s” is much, much larger, it hasn’t lost its romance, and still has the comraderie and aloha of the original, yet with much more seating and standing options.
The new “Big Wang” menu, featuring “whimsical Asian and Latin inspired delicacies”, was devised by Dan “Little Wang” Chang, owner of Wang Chung’s and Chef “Mexican Randy” Sanchez.
Hawaii media folks invited to “Big Wang”s” private tasting event included Emi Hart from Yelp, Grace Lee from Hawaii News Now, Melissa Chang & Grant Shindo from Frolic Hawaii, Martha Cheng from Honolulu Magazine, Olena Rubin Heu from Olena Heu Communications, Pam Davis from Oahu Conceirge, Robbyn Shim from Roy’s Hawaii, DJ Chika Pin from KORL, Bill Carl from Dine and Draught and Joey Gottesman from Young’s Market. Oh, and me too! Yay!
WANG CHUNG’S ALL NEW POWER UP MENU
• f.o.b. – fried. oyster. bao. oyster, katsu sauce, asian spices, house slaw.
• flied pickles – everything is better, flied. fresh battered pickles, sriracha mayo.
• #45 (ginger crab rangoon) – what white people eat. lump crab, cream cheese, ginger, scallions, wtf.
• handcut house fries – made by mexican sweat & tears. fresh russet potatoes, sriracha mayo, house ketchup.
• saigon pork hash sliders – a banh mi that doesn’t hurt the roof of your mouth. vietnamese style grilled pork patties, house pickles, vietnamese mayo.
• general wang’s chicken torta – china man meets mexican. housemade flied chicken fingers, orange gastrique, chili dust, house slaw.
• chinese popcorn chicken – those chinese people & their crazy scams. good food though. taiwanese popcorn chicken, flied basil, house dipping sauces.
• uncle juan tachos – juan tacho is mexican randy’s uncle. house roasted kalua pig, chef mexican randy’s nacho sauce, mango pico de gallo, housemade wonton chips
ARMOR MENU (in case you’re wondering)
• really big wang – a really big wang tshirt. athletic fit. printed locally. who doesn’t like a really big wang in their life?
• extra little wang – an extra little wang tshirt. athletic fit. printed locally. grower, not a shower.
• combo (1 big & 1 little) – extra value combo. one really big wang and one extra little wang tshirt.
Without further ado, soon after the meet and greet, the new menu dishes began rolling out, where we started with Big Wang’s Saigon Pork Hash Sliders, making their rounds to everyone via super awesomely fun guy, Bartender Brian.
Upon closer inspection, you see they’re topped with Do Chua, those tasty jullienned pickled Vietnamese style carrots and daikon, suggesting its the slider version of a Banh Mi.
And? Excellent. The deep-fried pork meatball-shaped “patty” is super moist and tasty, being nicely seasoned, contrasted by the zippity-zap of the Do Chua and buttered ‘n toasted dinner roll bun. I can see polishing a set of these very quickly deep into a long night of Karaoke.
Next up we have General Wang’s Chicken Torta, described as, “China man meets mexican: housemade flied chicken fingers, orange gastrique, chili dust and house slaw.”
And you know what? As much as I repeated say on this blog that I don’t care for chicken, ironically, this was actually my favorite dish on the entire menu. Reason being, the deep-fried chicken tender was so moist and succulent, it hardly tasted like chicken at all, but more like a plump fillet of deep-fried Monchong, or some other really fatty, tasty fish. Go figure!
I tell ya’ General Wang’s Chicken Torta for the pub grub WIN! It didn’t even need the otherwise fantastically hearty, glutenous, rustic ‘n crusty baguette style “bun” and slaw. Just serve the deep-fried chicken tender in their newspaper-lined Chinese takeout box with dipping sauce, ’nuff!
Next up, yet another whimsical nod to Dan’s proud Chinese heritage, we have Big Wang’s “F.O.B.”, described as, “fried. oyster. bao. oyster, katsu sauce, asian spices, house slaw.
An interesting note to make here is, you may notice this, and several other dishes are served on Chinese news print. As it turns out, Dan gets these from shops in downtown Honolulu’s Chinatown district.
Well, Dan asks the shop owners if they’d be willing to simply give the unsold expired newsprint to him to take it off their hands, thinking they’d otherwise wind up in the trash. But nope, they pull the “pake” on a pake, asking Dan to pay full newsstand price for expired Chinese newspapers! WTF?!
Going in for the “money shot” bite, as you can see, the “F.O.B” is indeed a deep “flied” oyster inside a steamed Chinese dim sum style bao.
It’s OK, however I honestly think the abundance of steamed bao (bun) overpowers the delicately sensual flavor of the oyster. To which Dan did make yet another note that Chef Randy wants to try Chinese Roast Pork Spare Ribs with the bao in a future iteration.
Next up, we have the #45 (ginger crab rangoon),described as, “what white people eat. lump crab, cream cheese, ginger, scallions, wtf.”
Being mostly one myself, I love “white people food”, and I love Crab Rangoon, and Big Wang’s take on it is spot-on. Incredibly, Wang’s uses (costly) real lump crab in it, along with some imitation crab. It’s served just the way I do mine, with Sweet Thai Chili Sauce. Perfect.
Danny noted that the #45 will alternate per Chef Mexican Randy, where he’ll also be featuring local “flied” sweet corn tamale wontons with “Mexican power bar” fillings, including local sweet corn, chicken, masa, secret mexican spices, avocado and sour cream. Ooh, that sounds awesome!
Next up, we have the Flied Pickles, described as, “Eeverything is better flied (fried). Fresh battered pickles, sriracha mayo.” And with that, it is what it is. Which may sound weird to the uninitiated, however after one bite, and then a dip in the srirachi mayo’ with every next one, you’ll soon find yourself making quick work of the entire basket of Flied Pickles!
Addictively tangy ‘n tasty, Big Wang’s tempura style Flied Pickles would be fantastic with a tall cold glass of Deschutes, my favorite draft on tap at Wang’s.
Next-up, we have Big Wang’s new Handcut House Fries, described as, “made by Mexican sweat & tears. Fresh russet potatoes, sriracha mayo and house ketchup.”
Replacing their former bar fries, which were the commercially-packed frozen variety that most places serve, now they’re into In ‘n Out Burger territory, being hand-cut daily, and kept in an ice bath and “flied” to order, seasoned with the perfect dash of kosher salt and finely chopped cilantro.
And they’re fantastic! Golden brown ‘n crispy on the outside, steamy hot ‘n fluffy tender inside. To which I especially appreciate that Chef Randy leaves the potato skins ON. Dig that!
Of course the dipping sauce is equally important to any fries. Of which If I had to choose between the housemade ketchup and Sriracha Mayo’, I’d go with with the Sriracha Mayo’, as It matched the heartiness of the thick hand-cut fries better, in the truest sense of “Pub Grub”, rich-meets-rich-‘n-tasty way. Ya’ know?
Next up, we go into “savage Karaoke bar mode”, digging into a heaping pile of Big Wang’s “Uncle Juan’s Tachos”, described as “Named after Chef Mexican Randy’s uncle, our Tachos feature house roasted kalua pig, chef Mexican Randy’s nacho sauce, mango pico de gallo, and housemade wonton chips.”
And man-o-man, are the wonton-based Tachos muy bueno! Delicioso! This kinda’ reminds me of a deconstructed version of the deep-fried wonton-wrapped cheese-stuffed Jalapenos from Los Chaparros Mexican Restaurant on Beretania Street. And the smokey Kalua Pig totally kicks it up a few notches. Nom-nom-nom-nom!
Next up, Big Wang’s new Chinese Pop Salad, described by Chinese-born Dan Chang himself as “Those Chinese people & their crazy scams. Good food though. Taiwanese popcorn chicken, flied (fried) basil and house dipping sauces.
The dipping sauces served with most of the new pupus are their house-made Ketchup and Sriracha Mayo’, which as noted previously regarding the hand-cut fries, I prefer the Sriracha Mayo’. With that, I think they should also add a really smokey house-made BBQ, Mustard, Wasabi/Spicy-Hot and Sweet ‘n Sour sauce to cover everyone’s individual tastes.
“Little Wang” Dan also noted that the Chinese pop chicken salad is now a box of popcorn chicken, sans the salad, since he and Chef Randy learned over the past few weeks that salad and slaw don’t really fit what people want to eat as bar food. I suppose it is safe to say you don’t see people eating granola bars in a bar. lol
Big Wang’s new “Yuzu Me, Prease” cocktail. Image courtesy of Dan Chang.
Finally, to wash everything down is Big Wang’s featured new libation, the “Yuzu Me, Prease”. Or in a complete sentence at the “K.B.”, “After you buy me do-link-ee, yuzu me, prease”. lol
“Yuzu Me, Prease” is made with homemade yuzu jelly, Ocean Vodka, distilled right here in Hawaii on the island of Maui, Housemade Ginger Lemon Fizz and Thai Tea.
I’m not a sweet mixed drink kinda’ guy myself, however I think the “Yuzu Me, Prease” will be a popular drink with the ladies, especially with the interesting bubble drink type of texture it has from the homemade Yuzu jelly at the bottom that gets slurped-up through the thick straw it’s served with. I gotta say that Thai Tea flavor it predominantly has is quite tasty, especially with the added “twang” of the Ginger Lemon Fizz.
Ocean Vodka was one of the sponsors of Wang Chung’s tasting event
I didn’t try the Ocean Vodka straight-up as a shot, so can’t comment on that. However I must say, the bottle is GORGEOUS!
Added to Big Wang’s fantastic new pupu menu were some great people to hang out with for the evening. Here’s Yours Truly with Emi Hart, the all-around awesome-cool community manager of Honolulu Yelp…
Continuing my narcissism with Dan “the man” of Wang Chung’s…
And with his kitchen master, Chef “Mexican Randy” Sanchez…
And with Bartender Brian…
And with Melissa Chang…
Dan and his artist, Scott Daimaru…
Speaking of which, if you walk into Wang Chung’s, the first thing you’ll notice is the infatuation with Japanese Anime, as well as Kaiju, or “Giant Monsters”. Namely Godzilla, where every table features a poster of Godzilla, a.k.a. “Gojira” films…
Back to the party peeps, here’s Dan and Olena Rubin Heu…
Dan and Bartender Cory…
Before closing, I must say, Wang Chung’s probably has the CLEANEST bathroom in Waikiki, which is probably because superheroes keep watch over it…
A funny note on that: if you notice, there’s a Green Lantern and Superman DC Comics superhero suit hanging on a bath bar next to that mural. Well, one time a brave patron feeling “too good” attempted to steal the costumes, running out the door with them, where Dan and his bartender chased him down as he tried to flee up the stairs of the Stay Waikiki Hotel.
Thankfully they caught him and got the suits back. So Dan no longer keeps them in the bathroom for display, only for private events such as the tasting party that night.
However, I suggested Wang’s should keep those superhero suits in the restroom, locked in a red-framed glass case like they do for fire hoses, with a sign in front that says, “BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY”. That would be way cool!
Oh, and I did mention before that Wang Chung’s is an LGBT-friendly establishment (I’m 100% straight), which is no surprise you’ll find “shenanigans” such as this taking place…
Bartender Chris is shocked as Bartender Cory gets his groove on. lol
“Is that a shot in your hand, or are you just happy to see me?” LOL!! Actually, this err, “whimsical”, blown-glass (no pun intended) liquor bottle originally had Amaretto Liqueur in it, and came from a bar in Italy that had a phallic theme, which is pure genius! It’s now filled with red dye colored vinegar water. I told Dan he should fill it with a liqueur that has a creamy white appearance. Har-dee har-har-har!
Summing it up, whether you’re a visitor staying in Waikiki, or a local looking for a great place to get your drink and “sing” on, Wang Chung’s is an absolute MUST. It’s by far the best Karaoke bar I’ve ever stepped foot in and mic on, and I can almost guarantee you’ll walk out of the bigger and badder “Wang’s” having a fantastic, “most funnest” night! Wang Chung’s no ka’ oi! Oh, and now there’s ono ‘kine grindz, too!
Wang Chung’s Karaoke Bar
2424 Koa Avenue (behind the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa)
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815