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Getting a Jump on the New Year at Golden Palace

Inside Feature

January 30, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Jump-starting this new year of luck is Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant, which will be dishing up a Dinner for 10 through the entire month of February.

  • Owner Howard Lam, right, and son Gary.
  • Peking Duck with buns
  • Chinese Chicken Salad
  • Jai
  • Steamed Sea Bass with ginger and onions
  • Walnut Shrimp
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The dinner costs $159 and is loaded with a mouthwatering combination of traditional Chinese delicacies local patrons have been returning for since Golden Palace opened in 2001. Honey Walnut Shrimp, Peking Duck with Buns, Oyster Sauce Abalone with Vegetables, Chicken Cake Noodles, Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Onions, Scallop Soup, Chinese Chicken Salad and Steamed Rice all round out the meal, but be sure to pass around the Jai to get an extra helping of prosperity this year.

“On New Year’s Day, the Chinese do not use any sharp objects whatsoever because it’s bad luck, and since they can’t kill any pigs or chickens and what-not, that’s why they eat the vegetarian dishes,” explains Gary Lam of the significance of Jai, a fresh medley of rice noodles, snow peas, baby corn, carrots, mushrooms, fungus, bean curd, water chestnuts, dried oyster and dates.

“And we’re opened from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, so that special is not only for dinner. We can serve it for lunch if people want to do like a luncheon thing. It’s available all day and also for take-out.”

Gary is the son of Howard Lam, who owns the Chinatown eatery and operates it with help from his two sons (Gary and younger brother Sherman) and wife Virginia. In fact, the Lams also have a stand in King’s Market next door, which Virginia runs during the day before joining her family at the restaurant for the busy nighttime rush.

Family is important at Golden Palace, which regularly offers dinner specials that encourage eating in large groups and sharing the bounty of the meal.

One of its most popular orders, for example, is the $149 Dinner for Ten, which comes with Chinese Chicken Salad, Chicken Scallop Soup, Peking Duck, Crispy-Skin Chicken, two live Maine Lobsters, Seafood Combination Basket, Sweet & Sour Sea Bass, Chicken Cake Noodle, Steamed Rice and Dessert.

“That’s the main one that everyone comes in for for the past seven, eight years,” says Gary, adding that people also leave with a bag full of their handmade dim sum.

“I can honestly say that we have the cheapest prices for dim sum. It costs $1.89 and has only gone up 39 cents over the past 10 years.”

In addition to the dim sum, most of the food at Golden Palace is the brainchild of the senior Lam, who immigrated to Hawaii in 1972 after starting out as a head chef in Hong Kong.

“He’s been cooking for the past 30-plus years,” Gary says. “He was actually hired to come here (in Hawaii) to cook.”

“At the old Golden Duck, in McCully,” Howard adds.

Gary himself has literally grown up in the restaurant scene, his family having started Golden Palace when the space fronting North King Street became available 10 years ago. He just finished college, where he majored in travel industry management, and now works full-time at the restaurant both behind the scenes and out front with the customers.

“I like to keep my customers happy,” he says. “That’s my main focus, to keep the customers happy so that everyone stays happy and healthy.”

Considering he was born under the Year of the Boar, his aim to please is to be expected — according to Chinese astrology, Boars are chivalrous, honest and tolerant, all good traits to possess when working in the fast-paced restaurant industry.

“I thought I would be going into the hotel industry, but I’m here for now. We’ll see where this goes.”

As for what Gary wishes for in this new year: “I’m hoping this new year is going to bring us another 10 years,” he laughs.

Which may come true if he eats some Gau. According to Chinese belief, partaking in this sweet, sticky rice pudding will ensure good luck and prosperity.

“It represents family sticking together,” adds Gary, “and it’s round, which signifies family unity also.”

Golden Palace makes its own Gau fresh daily in three sizes, small ($2.49), medium ($3.95) and large ($7.50). Be sure to eat some this Chinese New Year to ensure 2011 is your best year yet.

Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant

  • Where
    • 111 North King Street
    • Honolulu, HI 96817
  • Call
    • (808) 521-8268
  • Hours
    • Open daily
    • 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.