Food La La: Hwayo Soju Launch Party

Sep. 2, 2013 | 1 Comment

BY LINDSEY MURAOKA / Special to the Star-Advertiser

On Thursday, Aug. 29, I attended a launch party for Hwayo Soju, a premium alcohol from Korea. The party was held at Alan Wong’s The Pineapple Room, so there was lots of delicious food!


This was my first time trying a premium soju. Usually, when most people think of soju they think of cheap liquor you can get at pretty much any Asian bar. Soju is very versatile and can be mixed with lots of different flavors. Two of my favorite bars, Nocturna Lounge and Café Duck Butt, both serve more than 10 different varieties. However, Hwayo does not have the harsh aftertaste cheaper soju has, so you can order it on the rocks and sip on it instead of drinking it as a shot.


Hwayo is made with 100% Korean rice and no additives using a vacuum distillation method in low temperature and stored in pottery for a period of time, which develops the alcohol’s rich and soft flavor.

These miniature bottles were adorable!


Hwayo comes in three alcohol contents: 17%, 25%, and 41% ABV. I tried all three straight and they were all surprisingly smooth. My favorite was the 25% because it had a slightly sweeter taste than the other two.

I also tried a Hwayo mojito and a Hwayo sour drink. Since the alcohol is so smooth, you can’t taste it — but you certainly feel it!


Jeff Chung, general manager of Korean television station KBFD gave a speech about sharing and promoting Korean culture in Hawaii.


The president of Hwayo, Taekwon Cho, introduced the line before cheering with the crowd.


All of dishes served were delicious, but this fusion of bibimbap with poke was my favorite of the night!


Another favorite was this flaky soft misoyaki butterfish!


This salad tower was savory sweet, so it was almost like a dessert. It’s zucchini tempura with a creamy goat cheese and a balsamic dressing.


This is shrimp and very tender short ribs.


For dessert, there were these amazing dark chocolate ganache by Philippe and Pierre Padovani of Padovani’s Chocolates made with Hwayo 41%, which has a strong and deep flavor that blends nicely with the bittersweet flavor of the chocolate.



You can find Hwayo at Palama Market, Choi’s Garden and Budnamujib on Oahu right now; it will be available at more locations in the near future.
Lindsey Muraoka blogs about food and drink for the Pulse. Contact her on Twitter or via email at

  • Writer451

    “Usually, when most people think of soju they think of cheap liquor you can get at pretty much any Asian bar.” Yeah, if they’re a bigot who looks down on Koreans, then that’s usually what they think when they think of soju.