George Hwang has owned and operated Pearl of the Orient Restaurant in Rocky River since 1984. “The Pearl” as locals say is the place to go for an authentic Asian dining experience. In fact it was George and his sister Rose Wong who first acquainted Clevelanders with Szechuan cuisine, introducing them to authentic Chinese foods, informing them there were dishes other than chicken chow mein and fried rice to delight their palates.
Located in the Beachcliff Market Square, Pearl of the Orient remained during and after the 2006 renovation of the mall into the present “lifestyle center” concept. Surviving the rise and fall and uncertainty of the economy, George has persevered in his vision to bring West Siders delicious, fresh and fabulous food. Included in that vision was to expand the menu into sushi, Vietnamese and Thai offerings. Today, the sushi bar is one of the most popular aspects of the restaurant with many customers coming in just for the sushi alone. Pearl of the Orient Restaurant has won “Best of the West” in Sushi and Chinese Food category with Living Well/Cleveland Magazine Peoples Award in 2010. A full service liquor bar rounds out the establishment ensuring customers can enjoy an always hand mixed fresh poured cocktail with their meal.
As for George, he moved to United States as a young man in 1973. Both of his parents were journalists from Northern China who were forced to flee to Hong Kong after the Communist takeover in 1949. Stressing education and seeking to provide the best for their children, they sent George to an Anglo Saxon Chinese Catholic high school in Hong Kong. After arriving in the US, he received a BA in Accounting from Northeastern University, Boston and an MBA in Finance form Suffolk University, Boston. He then went on to study the culinary arts at Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute, Providence RI. In 1991 he and Lily Yao became married and now have two children Jacqueline and Vincent.
George travels annually to Hong Kong and Toronto, and occasionally to Vancouver, Taiwan and China gathering recipes and cooking techniques. He is a regular celebrity chef on local television and radio programs and enjoys cooking for the public at the many benefits held in the Cleveland area such as Market Under Glass and the Taste of the NFL. He has also been a member of the Board of Trustees of Fairview/Lutheran Hospital, under the Cleveland Clinic since 2004.