affordable prices make Hong Hua a hit
Published in the Detroit News, May 12,
Molly Abraham: Restaurant Review: Hong Hua ---
Hong Hua's four owners --
Danny Yu, left, Peter Chan, Gary Yau, and Shetwai Seto --
play various roles daily at the eatery that serves lunch and
dinner. Max Ortiz / The Detroit News
Next month, Hong Hua will mark the 11th anniversary
of the date four partners transformed a former Bill Knapp's location
into what has evolved into the best Chinese restaurant in Metro
It's quite an achievement, remarkable in the fact that the same
quartet is still together after more than a decade, running the
restaurant in ensemble fashion. All four — Danny Yu, Seto Shetwai,
Gary Yau and executive chef Peter Chan — are on hand in the handsome
free-standing building just about every day.
That's certainly one reason for the remarkable consistency in both
food and service, and it also shows in the smooth and efficient way
the dining room, or more properly, dining rooms run.
The main room at the entrance, sophisticated in its simplicity and
completely free of cliche decorations, is augmented by two more that
have lazy Susan-centered tables for large parties. The front room
includes the small cocktail lounge with just a handful of seats, and
a nice selection of wines that team well with the fare, contrary to
the myth that wine does not go with Chinese food.
The special menu at lunch, when crisp white paper covers the white
linens on the tables and light streams through windows on both sides
of the room, is particularly notable for its affordable price
structure. Complete lunches, beginning with a choice of hot and
sour, wonton or eggdrop soup, a spring roll or fried or steamed rice
and the chosen entrée, are no higher than $9.95.
Notable dishes include wok-fried shrimp, with fresh asparagus in a
subtle garlic sauce, and grilled shrimp served as a salad with fresh
The dinner menu is more elaborate, with more than 100 choices, about
a quarter of which feature seafood, some plucked live from the tank
in the kitchen.
A recent dinner, on a weekend night when all three dining rooms were
packed, began with a complex and elegant crab meat and fish maw
soup, to which aficionados of the dish add a splash of vinegar,
followed by thinly wrapped rolls of finely chopped mixed seafood and
vegetables, deep-fried and served with mayonnaise.
Main courses included what the menu calls "lobster duo," wok-fried
lobster tail and deep-fried lobster legs, set off by the complete
contrast of a tender fillet of sea bass.
Then came ribeye steak sparked with Maggi sauce (the fermented wheat
condiment that enhances the flavor of the beef), and stir-fried snow
pea leaves with garlic sauce and king mushrooms.
A very light fried rice dish, made with brown rice, egg whites and
vegetables, completed the array, all handsomely served on white
At the next table, a group was sharing one of the house specialties
— a glistening Peking duck, its crispy skin wrapped in pancakes and
the meat sliced and teamed with Asian vegetables. (Next time, Peking
duck for sure.)
A couple of visits to Hong Hua can only scratch the surface of what
chef Chan's kitchen can do.
A loyal return clientele of both Asians and non-Asians happily
testifies to that.