Choi and her husband, Bai, the restaurant's chef, have owned Chinese restaurants for more than 20 years, first in West Phoenix for about a decade before opening Hong Kong Asian Diner almost 12 years ago. The interior of the space appears to have not been touched since then -- a faded poster of the Hong Kong skyline is the only décor.
Choi says her first restaurant's location in Sun City required they serve a menu of Americanized cuisine, but the Tempe customer base allows for a menu of more traditional Chinese food.
Don't let that intimidate you if you're not familiar with authentic offerings. If you need help placing your order, Choi won't be shy about jumping in. She may even take a seat at your table to guide your selections in depth.
Normally, it's a pet peeve of mine when servers help themselves to a spot at the table, but in this case, it feels more like you're taking a seat at her table.
Either way, just be sure you have the right menu before you begin.
The restaurant's standard menu of Americanized Chinese fare is handed to just about every customer on the first visit. It includes dishes like orange chicken and lacks a section dedicated to bubbling, flavor-packed hot pots.
If you don't see shark fin soup and ma po tofu just ask for "the other menu." Not only will you have a much better meal, but you also will instantly win over your hard-to-impress hostess.
Kuang will probably suggest you begin your meal with an order of the daily soup, an ever-changing kettle of vegetables and meats that comes in a consistently dark brown broth. On one trip, I found the soup to be a light medley of carrots, celery, and beef while on the next, my bowl swam with pork and pieces of bok choy.
In any case, it's a fine place to start, though not necessary. You'll want to save room for the hearty entrées.