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Chew On This

From Ranch to Restaurant

By Dining Out Team Photos By Rachel Breit
February 24, 2013

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BY RACHEL BREIT

We all know that a delicious meal starts with quality ingredients. That’s why at Royal Garden Chinese Restaurant, owner Calvin Wong goes straight to the farm for fresh chickens. Free-ranging, ranch-raised chickens’ access to the outdoors encourages movement and pasture grazing, which produces a leaner, more meaty chicken that is higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids — a difference you can taste. “The chicken is very rich in taste and the meat is not too soft,” says Wong. Its firm and flavorful meat is so exceptional that Wong is willing to pay the extra price (three times more) for a ranch-raised California chicken that he flies in fresh.

Once Wong has his birds in hand, his brother, co-owner and head chef Johnny Wong, prepares them the traditional Chinese way. “No other restaurant in town will do this. This is traditional rock salt chicken,” says Calvin Wong. The chicken is marinated in salt and simple spices such as star anise. A pot of rock salt is heated to a high temperature. The marinated chicken is placed in special paper and buried in the salt pot. The pot is then placed in a very hot oven and baked for 30 minutes. The result is a crispy skin and juicy meat — the robust flavor is accented with a hint of the floral aroma of anise.

Baked Rock Salt Ranch Chicken is regularly $45, but Wong is offering a 50 percent discount good until the end of March with only one discount per table and not to be combined with other offers.

Also, orders must be placed at least a day in advance because the chicken takes special preparation. One whole chicken is more than three-and-a-half pounds and can be shared among up to 10 people with side dishes accompanying it.

Another special item on the menu is Baked Stuffed Top Shell with Seafood. Minced seafood is combined with mushroom, onion, water chestnuts and curry powder, and baked. The item is regularly priced at $5.95 each, but until the end of March, Royal Garden is offering a 50 percent discount on this fusion-fare delight.

Royal Garden Chinese Restaurant

Ala Moana Hotel
410 Atkinson Drive, Honolulu
942-7788
Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner: Daily, 5:30-9:30 p.m.