Welcome the New Year With Exotic Tastes at The Mandalay
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Amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Honolulu lies a heavenly oasis where diners can push all their troubles aside, making room for hearty, top-notch Cantonese cuisine with exceptional flair. Located on Alakea Street, The Mandalay is embarking on its sixth year in business, and according to owners and husband-and-wife team Larry and Linda Chan, this acclaimed establishment caters to all your dining needs, especially when it comes to celebrating all of life’s special occasions — the restaurant boasts two stories and seats 320 people comfortably.
Dining Out recently sat down with Larry, who shared with us the majestic happenings this restaurant has in store for New Year’s and the upcoming Chinese New Year.
DO: The Mandalay opened its doors in 2006 and has been welcoming hungry diners ever since. What is the concept of the restaurant?
Chan: If you look at the decor here at The Mandalay, you’ll notice that it’s very contemporary and elegant. We want your entire dining experience to be of the highest quality, from the atmosphere to the taste of the food. We serve Hong Kong-style cuisine here, and we utilize only the best fresh ingredients — and most importantly, we use no MSG in our cooking. Our head chef Ping Mau Au has been with us for years.
DO: Prior to opening The Mandalay, you and your wife owned Eastern Garden Chinese Restaurant. How has business been for The Mandalay?
Chan: It’s been great! Being that we’re located right in the heart of downtown Honolulu, we cater primarily to businesspeople, and we’re extremely busy during lunch hour (from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) — that’s when the restaurant is packed. A lot of business meetings are held here, so we have private banquet rooms that people can request.
DO: With Chinese New Year right around the corner (Jan. 23), The Mandalay must have lots of things in store for its guests during this festive time, correct?
Chan: Yes, we have many things prepared especially for Chinese New Year, including Chinese New Year Special Menus that are available now. The first menu ($288 for table of 10) includes Mandalay Delight Salad, Mixed Seafood with Fish Maw Soup, Sauteed Fresh Lobster with Ginger Onion, Steamed Fresh Catch of the Day, Lawhon Jai, Deep Fried Oyster, Peking Duck with Bun, House Special Fried Rice, Crab Meat E Mein and Mango Pudding. The second menu ($388 for table of 10) features The Mandalay Combo, Chicken with White Fungus Soup, Black Mushroom with Baby Abalone, Steamed Fresh Catch of the Day, Mixed Seafood in Taro Basket, Stuffed Duck with Lawhon Jai, Mandarin Beef with Broccoli, Fukien Fried Rice, Shredded Chicken E Mein and ice cream.
Guests also may order Jai for $10.95 per order and Gau ($6 small, $12 large). Reservations for Chinese New Year are highly recommended.
DO: Are there any specific items on these menus that are absolute must-haves for Chinese New Year?
Chan: Of course Jai and Gau, in addition to the fresh lobster. The lobster signifies longevity, and Jai is a Chinese vegetarian dish that is believed to symbolize good health and longevity. Gau is a Chinese sticky mochi rice that represents friends and family sticking together in the new year. The Gau is garnished with a red date that symbolizes good luck, and sesame seeds that are believed to bring an abundance of good fortune and wealth. In fact, we’re expected to sell more than 200 orders of Gau for this new year.
On Chinese New Year, The Mandalay also will host a lion dance at 6 p.m. — a New Year’s tradition.
DO: Fantastic! Regarding the other items on the Chinese New Year Special Menus, what are some of your favorite entrees?
Chan: Chinese dinners always start off with soup and an appetizer dish, and the appetizer dish that we’re featuring as part of our Chinese New Year Special Menu is The Mandalay Combo, consisting of five spice beef, boneless pig feet and jellyfish — that’s very tasty. Then Black Mushroom with Baby Abalone is delicious, featuring black shiitake mushrooms sauteed with oyster sauce and baby abalone, and you always have to have Mixed Seafood in Taro Basket, consisting of shrimp, calamari, scallop, fish filet and assorted vegetables all nestled nicely in a deep-fried taro basket.
DO: What are some of the most popular dishes that The Mandalay is known for?
Chan: Well, The Mandalay Delight Salad is always a favorite. It’s a shredded duck salad that also features fresh fruit such as honeydew, cantaloupe and apple slices. This salad is a great starter dish, it’s very refreshing and cleanses the palate for the meal to come. The Honey Walnut Shrimp also is a best-seller, as well as House Special Seafood Noodles and dim sum. We have a variety of set menus for lunch and dinner that our customers can choose from, which eliminates the hassle of choosing from a number of a la carte dishes.
DO: Of course, dim sum feeds the masses here. When is dim sum available and what are some of the must-try items?
Chan: Dim sum is served daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have close to 50 items to select from, and we don’t have dim sum sitting in carts for extended periods of time — all of our dim sum is made steamed to order, meaning everything is served hot and fresh. Our most popular dim sum items are Steamed Shrimp Dumpling, Steamed Pork Dumpling, Steamed BBQ Pork Bun, and Steamed Scallop with Spinach Dumpling.
DO: What are you hoping for The Mandalay in the new year?
Chan: Of course, we’re hoping to get an increase in customers. We also hope that our customers continue to enjoy the food and customer service here.
- 1055 Alakea Street
- Honolulu, HI 96813
- (808) 525-8585
- Open daily
- 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Free validated parking Monday-Friday after 5 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday all day at Bishop Square (across the street from the restaurant).