Hakka Chow Asian Eats: The restaurant review that almost wasn’t
Well, the review would have at least been a bit humdrum and quite redundant. At a recent family outing to Hakka Chow in Winston-Salem, I was wise enough to make a query of the desires of the group and what they were about to order. When doing a restaurant review, it is not helpful if every single adult at the table orders the exact same thing—and my people are nothing if not predictable. Fortunately, at our visit, I asked around and caught the pending snafu in time. I managed to get enough different entrées on the table to share our thoughts about Hakka Chow.
Hakka Chow, located in Saint George Square Court off Hanes Mall Boulevard, is a local Asian fusion restaurant owned by Hai-Sang and Caroline Chung and their sons, Andrew and Johnny.
The menu undoubtedly will remind you of that huge chain restaurant down the street, but Hakka Chow got here first. The Chungs have added more to its menu, and now the trending Poké and Bulgogi are among some of its offerings of traditional yet modern stir-fry, noodle bowls, curry and sushi. If you’re a fan of General Tso Chicken, they’ve got you. Lunch entrées are served with your choice of salad or soup, and a spring roll can be added for $1 and egg roll for $1.50. They are pretty straightforward; the spring roll is delicate, crispy and screaming hot when it comes to the table (be warned, let it cool), and the egg rolls come split lengthwise for easy sharing.
A platter or two of Hakka Zen Shrimp led the appetizer train. It’s lightly battered shrimp in a spicy aioli sauce. The shrimp have a bit of heat, but they are so satisfying. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve ordered the appetizer as a meal. The leftover sauce makes a nice dressing for the bed of lettuce. The tender yet crisp Calamari proved to be a crowd-pleaser as well; there were no tentacles, though I would’ve loved them had they been on the platter.
That brings us to the most popular dish of all time apparently —the aforementioned General Tso Chicken. It is the perennial favorite for most people, which is specifically true for my family and extended family, for that matter, because this was the most ordered dish at our meal. Who doesn’t love sweet deep-fried chicken? At Hakka Chow, it doesn’t disappoint, and I dare say it usually wins the table even when I set out to be more adventurous. It’s not too sweet, has just the right amount of spicy kick, and is perfectly crispy. I’m pretty sure there was nothing left from any of the plates, which is great because I’ve yet to find a way to reheat it successfully. A similar variation, Sesame Chicken, was the choice of the folks who don’t care too much for things being Tso spicy. Like its spicy sister dish, the battered chicken held up well against the sweet brown, sesame infused sauce.
I branched out and tried the Beef Bulgogi, which is described on the menu as “slices of tender beef marinated in a traditional soy-based sauce grilled with onions and mushrooms — topped with Kimchi (spicy), scallions, and roasted sesame seeds.” I’m always a bit leery of Kimchi because I don’t love it, but the peppery bite of it complemented the beef and cool cucumber on top. My husband took one for the team and ordered Mongolian Beef, a dish that’s not quite as colorful as the curries or noodle dishes, but the tender beef on top of the bed of rice always seems to hit the spot.
Most of the children at the table ordered a version of fried rice. If there was any criticism at the table, it would’ve been that a few stated that the dish was a bit dry. The portions were very generous, and we found when we brought it home, quick stir-fry with some soy sauce and butter, loosened things up a good bit.
Hakka Chow proves that it still beats the chain with a fresher taste and warmer service. In fact, often, you’ll see Caroline right outside the kitchen, with a keen eye on the food being expedited, in-between visits to the dining room to check on her guests. After six years in business, Hakka Chow has proven a knack for hospitality and an ability to evolve and add new items that have kept them relevant in a competitive culinary scene.
Kristi Maier is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.
Hakka Chow is located at 615 St. George Square Ct., Winston-Salem. www.hakka-chow.com