Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CNY Dinner at Hop Woo

There was something for everyone to celebrate this past weekend. If you're patriotic, there's President's day weekend. If you are in love, it's Valentines Day with your honey. If you're a single guy, it's a great weekend to prey on those lonely girls searching for that special connection. If you hate your job, you got Monday off. And if you're Chinese (or just someone looking for another reason to eat, drink and celebrate), you rung in the new year of the tiger. We decided to gather a group of friends and family for dinner over the weekend. Living in the Westside, you don't exactly have that many great Chinese food options. Just ask anyone on Chowhound. Despite the odds, I find that Hop Woo is the most authentic Chinese restaurant in the area. After all, what can be more authentic than a Chinese restaurant that has roast ducks hanging in the window and a wait staff that ignores you. Also, Hop Woo has locations in Alhambra and Chinatown - that must count for something.

They wasted no time serving the main star of the night, Peking duck, which was carved table side.

The best part of the dish was the duck skin which was sliced thin and served with buns, scallions and hoisin sauce. Somehow that combination is lovely. The crispy skin, with the soft layer of fat and topped with sweet sauce.

Don't worry, we're served the rest of the duck as well. The waiter chopped up the remaining non-skin pieces. The duck meat and bones were served separately with a side of MSG. There was a lot of gnawing of bones at the table.

French styled Beef of spicy, sauteed beef slices. Well marinated, tender and flavorful but not that special given the occasion.

Pork belly with preserved cabbage
The slices of pork belly were basically large pieces of fat and skin. It was fatty, melt in your mouth and tasted like bone marrow x 20. Some might cringe but I embraced it. Yes, it's an artery clogger but it's a new year and time for new resolutions. The pork belly sat on a bed of preserved cabbage. One tiny spoon was sufficient as it was salty and flavorful.

Fried chicken with fried shrimp crackers. I thought the chicken was a tad bit dry but I sure loved those deep fried shrimp crackers that crackled in your mouth and dissolved on your tongue.

They call it chicken salad but it's actually chicken and jelly fish. Personally, I love this preparation of chicken (boiled, shredded, pink and not 100% cooked through, fatty chicken skin) but it's not for everyone. In fact, some might call it undercooked and slimy. I call it delicious. The jellyfish added another texture to the dish and was well seasoned with sesame oil. I liked how the jelly fish camouflaged with the chicken skin so you never know which is in your bite.

Calamari seasoned salt and pepper. I liked the thick breading which looked more like beer batter than breading. You really can't go wrong with fried seafood.

Pan fried noodles with seafood. This dish never gets old for me. Carbs. check. Crunchy noodles. check. Fresh seafood. check.

The food was delicious and the portions generous. It's not every day that you get to celebrate with Peking duck. The best part of the meal was the price tag at $19 per person. You gotta love Chinese food. Hop Woo offers authentic (IMO) seafood and BBQ dishes. You can also order live lobsters and suckling pig platter at very affordable prices. It's also a great alternative to driving East for Chinese food. Oh, and don't forget BYOB too. Now that alone constitutes a winner in my book.

Hits: location in the westside, Peking duck, noodles, pork belly, prices
Misses: fried chicken could have been more moist
Rating: ****

Hop Woo BBQ Seafood Restaurant
11110 Olympic Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 575-3663

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