Panda Cuisine: Fresh Seafood with Large Flavors
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At Panda Cuisine, it’s all about seafood. Ever since new owner John Liang took over Panda Cuisine this past year, the restaurant has been emphasizing its plethora of seafood entrees.
The eatery, which first opened in 1992, offers customers a variety of items on its menu, including barbecue specialties, Cantonese-style dishes, and poultry and meat dishes. However, according to manager Daniel Kung, many customers come to the restaurant because of the fresh seafood.
“We try to serve the best seafood (in Hawaii),” he says of the eatery, located on Keeaumoku Street across from Walmart and Sam’s Club. “The most popular (dishes) is seafood … we have fresh lobster, crab, king crab and fresh, live abalone (shellfish).”
Live seafood entrees featured at Panda Cuisine include Steamed Fresh Shrimp (seasonal price), Steamed Fresh Fish (seasonal price), Baked Lobster with Cheese and Butter (seasonal price) and Crab with Ginger and Scallions (seasonal price). Currently, Panda Cuisine is offering a Live Lobster special ($9.99), which is specially prepared with e-mein noodles.
The special is available for dine-in orders only, with the purchase of another entree (customers must present the coupon found on Page 22, which expires March 15).
“It’s a small lobster (featured in the special), and we put noodles under it,” Kung says.
Besides the current Live Lobster special, Panda Cuisine features lunch specials daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., which contribute to large lunch crowds.
“(The eatery’s) most crowded time right now is lunchtime,” Kung says. “The lunch special is $7.99 for one entree and it comes with soup and rice. There’s about 70 items to choose from.”
The most popular item on the lunch special menu is Deep Fried Whole Fish. Customers can opt for a wide-ranging selection of entrees, including Kung Pao Beef, Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce, Mushroom with Ginger and Green Onions, and House Special Pork Rib.
On the eatery’s regular menu, favorites vary among locals and Chinese who frequent Panda Cuisine, Kung states. For example, a favorite among Chinese customers is Fish Head Casserole Clay Pot in Zhongshan Style, or Homemade Style ($16.80). This dish — along with others such as House Special Royal Chicken ($14.80 half, $28 whole) and Diced Steak in Fukinnawa Sauce ($16.80) — is considered one of the best 10 dishes of the kitchen. For locals, though — who might not want to try unfamiliar Hong Kong-style cuisine — a multitude of options are available.
“For locals, we recommend our Peking Duck ($38 for whole duck with skin, buns and duck meat; $45 for whole duck, skin, buns, lettuce wraps and minced duck meat),” says Kung. “If they (customers) want half (a duck), we can do half. The most popular (dish) among locals is Prawns with Honey Glazed Walnuts ($16.80). A lot of local people also like Sauteed Scallops with Macadamia Nuts ($16.80) and Salt and Pepper Asparagus Prawns ($15).”
Other dishes available for locals who want more “traditional” dishes include Stir-Fry Sliced Rib Eye Steak with Mushrooms ($16.80), Stir-Fry Chicken with Mushrooms ($13.80), Stuffed Chinese Eggplants ($13), Stir-Fry Diced Rib Eye Steak with Pepper Sauce ($16.80) and Sweet & Sour Pork ($12.80). Although the eatery tends to attract more Chinese customers than locals, Kung states that Panda Cuisine is featuring seafood specials, in hope of attracting more local customers.
“We did the ad (on the lobster special) to encourage local people to come and try,” he says.
Changes might be on the horizon for Panda Cuisine, such as the inclusion of dim sum on the menu and a website for the eatery. However, for now, customers are encouraged to give the restaurant a try and enjoy the multitude of seafood and other Hong Kong-style delicacies.
- 641 Keeaumoku Street
- Honolulu, HI 96814
- (808) 947-1688
- Open daily
- 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.
- Validated parking available.