Mark Lee

Jo McGarry photo

Owner, Mauka
Chinese Cuisine Gateway at Mililani Mauka

Where were you born and raised? Canton. I came to Hawaii about 20 years ago.

Did you grow up in the restaurant industry? No, not really, but I had friends who had restaurants and I could see how the industry worked, and then I worked in restaurants, too. I thought it seemed like a good profession.

And then you realized it was really just lots of hard work. (laughs) Yes! Lots of work, but very good, very enjoyable. But, yes, hard work.

What is it that appeals most to you about the industry? It depends on which restaurant and at which time. We also have a ramen restaurant, and I enjoy both for different reasons, different food and different people.

You have some really excellent food here. Your fried rice is light and flavorful, and your soups have body but are not artificial and gelatinous. Thank you. Yes, we are very careful to use clean oil, fresh ingredients and good recipes. People often tell us that they really enjoy the food.

What do you like to eat when you’re not working? At home, I don’t cook. My wife does all the cooking. Sometimes Chinese food, sometimes American food. But when we go out, we love to go and eat Japanese food. My children especially enjoy Japanese food. We enjoy any kind of simple local restaurants.

What was the last great meal you ate? At home on Father’s Day – my family celebration included abalone, whole crab and dozens of side dishes. It was really spectacular.

What’s always in your fridge? Chinese food and noodles and ramen dishes! I am always taking food home from the restaurant to taste test, so we always have examples from the kitchen in the fridge.

Is there any one dish that is more popular than the rest? Many people like our salt and pepper shrimp and our seafood dishes, but I think that our Chinese chicken salad gets the most comments from people. We make an orange dressing that’s our house secret and customers really enjoy it.

What’s the next most exciting thing on your personal menu? A family vacation to China. I haven’t had a vacation in more than five years, so it’s something to look forward to.

Mauka Chinese Cuisine, 95-1840 Meheula Pky., Mililani; 626-6288