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While many local establishments offer assorted seafood dishes, Panda Cuisine raises the bar by offering fresh, live seafood that is brought in daily and served to order.
Situated conveniently on Keeaumoku Street, Panda Cuisine features an extensive menu headlined by a host of delicious seafood selections, such as lobster, crab, king clams, abalone and even live-raised tilapia, which are on display in large tanks that greet diners as they enter the restaurant. Guests are also treated to an array of Chinese favorites including appetizers, soups, pork, beef, lamb, chicken and duck dishes, tofu and vegetable offerings, as well as rice and noodle specialties. Dim sum selections are also available daily, and Panda Cuisine’s menu offers nearly 100 different selections to choose from.
“Freshness gives meat more texture and flavor, especially lobster,” explains managing partner Chris Lin. “With crab, if it’s not fresh, it will taste mushy. Frozen seafood tastes totally different, and you lose the (natural) taste. It’s hard to eat, and you don’t get that sweetness that we offer with live and fresh seafood.”
As the restaurant celebrates its second anniversary under its current ownership, Panda Cuisine presents seafood specials that should not be missed. Diners may enjoy a whole Live Maine Lobster ($11.99), or Live Dungeness Crab ($14.99) prepared in various styles and via multiple techniques. The special deals must be ordered along with an entree, and are available for a limited time.
“We want more people to come and enjoy what we have to offer, and see the difference that fresh seafood makes,” Lin says. “We want to share our food with customers and also thank the community that has continued to support us.”
Live Maine Lobster (seasonal price) represents one of the restaurant’s flag-ship dishes, and is made to order with a variety of preparation options to select from. Customers rave about the lobster, as it can be baked and served in an alluring garlic and butter sauce with green onion before being presented atop a bed of E-Mein noodles.
Seafood enthusiasts also make a habit of ordering Live Dungeness Crab (seasonal price), and many choose to have it prepared Hong Kong-style with a secret house spicy sauce, which features green onions, basil and garlic. Honey Walnut Shrimp with Mayonnaise Sauce ($14.99) is another popular option. Plump, juicy shrimp is tossed in a savory sauce that incorporates the rich flavors of the shrimp coupled with the sweetness of the walnuts.
Panda Cuisine offers a wide range of locally-influenced dishes as well, including French-Style Beef Diced ($14.99). The dish draws comparisons to Hawaiian chopped steak, and offers up a plentiful portion of succulent beef, along with green and red bell peppers and onions all tossed in a special house sauce. Stir Fried Clams with Black Bean Sauce ($13.99) features a thick and rich black bean sauce, and also includes a variety of fresh vegetables including onions and bell peppers.
Do you have a celebration or special gathering coming up? Panda Cuisine has two private rooms for groups celebrating various special occasions, and can seat 15 to 20 and 60 to 80 people, respectively. To add a level of convenience to the dining experience, validated parking is also available in the lot below the restaurant.
641 Keeaumoku St., Honolulu
Daily, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.