Top-Notch Chinese Fare at Canton Seafood
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Since arriving on the Hawaii restaurant scene on April 10, Canton Seafood Restaurant has become a popular destination for those looking for a taste of authentic Cantonese cuisine.
“All of the Chinese people (who eat here) agree our Cantonese food is the best,” says manager Peng Gong.
Winning over locals, who may be wary of dishes like Roast Young Pigeon ($12.99) and Caterpillar Fungus Chicken Soup ($6.99), has taken some time, but Gong says Hawaii residents have finally started to give the Chinese restaurant a try, delighting in dishes prepared in the traditional Cantonese way thanks to cooks who hail from the renowned foodie district.
“In China, Canton is very famous for food; people say, if you want to eat, go to Canton,” Gong says. “Our (head) cook is very good — he used to work at a popular Chinese restaurant in Hawaii years ago — and our other cooks are from Canton, so our food is very Cantonese-style — it is not chop suey- or mixed local-style.”
The food also is prepared family-style, so it is encouraged to order a few dishes to share among the entire table. Gong suggests starting with what is undoubtedly the most popular item on the menu, the House Chicken with Flavor Sauce ($15.95/half).
“We are famous for this dish,” Gong says.
The cooks only use fresh, free-range chickens, which gives the meat a different flavor and texture from frozen fowl. Another secret to this frequently ordered dish is the house sauce, which the chicken marinates in for two hours to fully absorb all of the subtle flavors.
“It’s a very special sauce that is different from the regular ginger sauce,” Gong says. “It is a little bit salty, and it has special Chinese herbs in it. It is special to our restaurant, and only our cook can make it.”
Another specialty Canton Seafood Restaurant has become known for is its Deep-Fried Flounder with Garlic ($17.95/whole).
“It is completely boneless — they scoop out all the meat then deep-fry it and serve with a special garlic,” Gong explains of dinner dish. “It is very crispy and very tasty.”
And while Peking duck is standard fare at most Chinese restaurants, the House Special Roast Duck ($13.95/half) and Peking Duck ($16.95/half) at Canton Seafood Restaurant are anything but ordinary.
“People say that in all of Hawaii, ours is the best,” Gong says. “Usually other restaurants will make eight or 10 together all at one time, but we only cook two at once so it does not dry out. This makes the quality really good.”
On the Side
It is hard to believe Canton Seafood Restaurant is located on the ever-busy, ever-congested Keeaumoku Street. With its high-roofed wood-slat ceiling and wide-open dining room framed with walls of art, the Chinese restaurant is a sanctuary from the rush of downtown Honolulu.
As soft music plays from overhead speakers, well-dressed waiters quickly bring out plates of food so beautifully arranged, they are almost too pretty to eat.
The key word is almost, because it is hard to resist the tempting smells of the food set before you.
And as fellow diners dig into their orders of sweet and sour pork, crispy beef and steamed seafood, it is soon apparent that people come to Canton Seafood Restaurant as much for the food as for the complete dining experience.
“We concentrate on quality, quality of the food and the total product,” says manager Peng Gong. “Also, because the economy is not too good, we try to make the price affordable. But that doesn’t mean the quality is low — we always use the best quality of food.”
This commitment to true value can be seen in the daily lunch and dinner specials. Lunch specials start at $5.99 and are served between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. While the Gon Lo Mein ($5.99) is always a hit, Gong says other items to try include the Beef Spicy Noodles ($6.99), Salt and Pepper Pork Chop Noodle in Soup ($6.99), Shrimp with Eggs Chow Funn ($7.99), Sweet and Sour Cabbage Stir Fried with Rice Noodle ($6.99) and Fried Spring Beans-Pork on Rice ($6.50).
Lunch plate options that come with choice of white or fried rice also are available starting at $6.50, as are side orders such as Fried Egg Rolls ($4.99), Young Chow Fried Rice ($6.50) and Crispy Gau Gee ($5.99).
“All of the vegetables, like the choy sum and Chinese broccoli, come fresh from the local farms,” Gong adds. Though they do use MSG, Gong says diners can request their dishes be made MSG-free.
“You can ask to make it how you like,” he says.
Dinner specials begin at $7.99 and are available to order any time of day. Currently, Live Maine Lobster is specially priced at $12.99 each, with most weighing well over 1 pound. Another seafood delicacy, the Live Crab is available for $18.95 per pound.
Canton Seafood Restaurant
- 923 Keeaumoku Street
- Honolulu, HI 96814
- (808) 955-3388
- 10 a.m. – Midnight
- Monday – Sunday
- Free parking available behind restaurant; street parking also available.