The Golden Standard
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Thirty years ago, Colin and Darlene Fong left their home in Canton, China, and went as far west as they could before settling in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Here, among tradewinds and year-round ideal weather, they began their pursuit of the American dream — buoyed by the promises of prosperity and success.
Today, their dream continues as part-owners and managers of the recently opened Golden Duck Chinese Restaurant in Kahala, while Darlene’s brother, Aaron Fong, serves as part-owner and manager of the original South King Street establishment.
Dining Out recently paid a visit to the new 7,000-square-foot Kahala location to learn more about the Fongs’ passion for top-notch culinary delights. What we discovered was that people with a strong work ethic and sense of family often come up “golden” in the Land of Opportunity.
Dining Out: Golden Duck recently opened the doors to its new Kahala location this past October. What are your thoughts on this expansion?
Colin: This is a great location for expansion and we have a lot of customers from the East Oahu area like Kahala, Hawaii Kai and Kaimuki. It’s very convenient for them.
Darlene: Yes, a lot of loyal customers have also been passing on the word. We have a great space here and we can seat about 180 people.
DO: Do you serve more of a northern or southern style of Chinese cuisine?
Colin: We serve Cantonese cuisine here, more of a Hong Kong style. We use lots of fresh ingredients, which I think really makes the meal.
Darlene: Family-style dining is what we cater to most, as well as catering and take-out orders. However, it’s the South King Street location that is usually very busy with the take-out orders.
DO: What would you say is the ideal family-style meal here? Any must-try items?
Colin: We have many items that do really well, but I would definitely recommend the Sizzling Platter
Tenderloin Beef with Twin Mushrooms Sizzling Platter ($10.95), the Lamb Stew with Dried Bean Curd Casserole ($11.95), Live Lobster with Ginger Onion ($13.99), and the Live Crab with Salted Pepper ($20.99) and the Minute Chicken Noodle ($8.25).
Darlene: Our crab and lobster are set at a special price right now and we have daily specials under $8. We’re also giving 10 percent off all take-out orders.
DO: The dishes all sound so enticingly delicious and diverse. Why would you recommend these items?
Darlene: Our head chef Cheung Lam Lau has been working for Golden Duck for more than 30 years, and his cooking is fantastic. The Tenderloin Beef with Twin Mushrooms Sizzling platter is so tasty with Chinese peas, straw mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. Then it’s seasoned with garlic and oyster sauce, and the meat is so tender.
The Lobster with Ginger Onion is fresh — sauteed and seasoned perfectly with fresh ginger, green onion
and garlic, while the Crab with Salted Pepper is seasoned with chopped garlic, fresh chili pepper and Chinese parsley. If the customer requests for it to be spicy, we can do that as well, but usually it’s very mild.
The Minute Chicken Cake Noodle is another customer favorite, and the tender chicken, ong choy, gravy and garlic really bring out the flavor of the dish.
The Lamb Stew with Dried Bean Curd Casserole is one of our specialties and customers love the shiitake mushrooms, green onion, parsley, dried bean curd, won bok and tender pieces of lamb that are featured in this dish. We use a lot of vegetables in our dishes, so for the most part it’s really healthy.
DO: What are some of your personal favorites on the menu?
Colin: I especially like the Salt and Pepper Pork Chop ($9.50), Shrimp with Honey Glazed Walnut ($11.95) and the Roast Duck Chow Mein ($8.95).
DO: What sets the Kahala location apart from the South King Street location?
Darlene: The South King Street location is always busy with diners dining in and taking out. Here at the Kahala location, we have a great
room for parties that holds about 110 people, so we specialize and host a lot of events and special occasions. We host a lot of wedding/baby showers, graduation parties, anniversary parties and birthday celebrations. We have a prix-fixe dinner party menu that usually can serve a dinner for 10.
DO: That makes party planning a lot easier. What are a couple party menus frequently selected by patrons?
Darlene: For $198, customers receive our most popular dinner option, which consists of the Seafood Tofu Soup or Scallop Soup; Chinese Chicken Salad; Barbecue Pork and Roast Duck Platter or Peking Duck; Crispy Chicken or Hot Ginger Chicken; Steamed Sea Bass Filet or Sweet and Sour Sea Bass Filet; Salt and Pepper Shrimp or Shrimp Canton; Tenderloin Beef with Twin Mushrooms or Black Pepper Tenderloin Beef; House Special Chow Mein; Steamed Rice; and Almond Float or Tapioca for dessert.
Our second most popular party menu is $238 and features Scallop Soup, Crispy Fried Seaweed Roll, Peking Duck; Hot Ginger Chicken or
Cold Ginger Chicken, Clam with Black Bean Sauce, Honey Glazed Walnut Shrimp, Ginger Onion Lobster or Crab, Black Mushroom Tofu and Vegetable, Yang Chow Fried Rice or Dried Chicken E-Mein, and Almond Float or Tapioca for dessert.
DO: A lot of attention to detail is placed here, as far as quality food and lovely decor. Would you agree?
Darlene: Yes. For starters, our restaurant is very clean and neat, with many of our decorations coming directly from China.
DO: Nowadays, many people are wary of MSG in their food. Does chef Lau use any MSG in his cooking?
Colin: He does, but you can request your order without any MSG as well — so there’s that option.
DO: Have you always been active in the restaurant business? What made you want to open the doors to your own restaurant?
Colin: Yes. I previously worked for Royal Garden for 11 years and made dim sum before we took on Golden Duck. We basically wanted to see if we could pursue this adventure on our own.
DO: People can’t seem to get enough of Chinese cuisine. Why do you think that is? What is it that makes Chinese food so tempting?
Darlene: Most of our cooking is wok-cooking, which results in food that’s very fresh, flavorful and authentic. We use a lot of garlic and Chinese five spice, which really adds to the taste.
DO: Do you have any plans to add dishes or services at Golden Duck?
Darlene: When it comes to the Kahala location, we hope to offer bar service in the near future. We also hope to begin serving dim sum when the time is right, but the kitchen is not yet ready to add dim sum to the list.
DO: What’s been the secret to Golden Duck’s success?
Darlene: A lot of customers think of us as part of their family and we also treat them like family. I think that’s really important.
Golden Duck Chinese Restaurant
- 1221 South King Street
- Honolulu, HI 96814
- (808) 597-8088
- Open daily from
- 10:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.