A Bounty of Chinese Fare Floods the Village Gates
With enticing new shops, restaurants and entertainment popping up in Waikiki, visitors clamor to be part of the excitement — some even traveling from half a world away to reach paradise. And while some establishments flaunt their prestige situated in big, lavish buildings and over-the-top decor to attract the crowd, others eateries, such as Seafood Village Chinese Cuisine, revert to simplicity and let the dining experience and its premier cuisine speak for itself.
Located on the lower level of Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa, Seafood Village is a gem. The restaurant has specialized in authentic Hong Kong-style cuisine for more than two decades, and a number of patrons have made their way down the steep staircase leading to the dining area. A wall of fame near the entrance marks notable patrons who have dined here, including President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, as well as the late King of Pop Michael Jackson and A-list Chinese celebrities — proof that Seafood Village is able to meet the highest of standards. In 2009, the restaurant was recognized for dining excellence in Chinese cuisine by Chinese Restaurant News.
Executive chef So Shu Chen is the man behind the magic at Seafood Village. Originally from Hong Kong, Chen made the Islands his home in 1990, and his culinary techniques are not far from amazing.
“I was trained in Hong Kong in 1978, and was taught everything I know from a famous chef there. He ranked among the top 10 chefs (in Hong Kong) at the time,” Chen shares.
Dining Out recently sat down with restaurant manger Yao Ming Guan, who was full of high praises for the fare. As we dished about the masterpieces presented on the table before us, it took much restraint not to automatically dig in.
Mouths water at the sight of Cantonese Roast Duck ($22.95 for half), which is bathed in a special seasoning. This seasoning (the details remain under lock and key) also is added into the stomach of the duck, resulting in morsels of tender roasted meat engulfed with flavor.
Then, hints of aroma tickle the nose as servers present a remarkable entree of Sweet and Sour Fresh Island Fish ($28.95). On average, the Hawaiian sun fish weighs in at close to 1 pound, with more than enough to go around. The locally caught fish is deep-fried, swimming in an outstanding sweet-and-sour sauce and topped with colorful accents of red and green bell peppers, and onions.
“Although we take pride in serving genuine Chinese cuisine, 89 percent of our clientele are tourists, and they’re not always familiar with ‘authentic’ dishes,” Guan says. “So, we like to slowly acclimate these guests into the dining experience with common Chinese selections, such as Zesty Lemon Chicken ($15.95).”
A creation with much universal appeal, Zesty Lemon Chicken features deep-fried boneless chicken breast doused with a homemade lemon sauce of thick, honey-like consistency.
“You could say this is our take on chicken katsu,” says Guan, noting that the sweet and tangy sauce is delicious.
“Chinese-style dining centers around the family and sharing in a number of dishes. That’s why the lazy Susan is so helpful,” he adds, pointing to the rotating glass plate at the center of the table.
Seafood Village’s large portions guarantee enough of everything to go around. Perfect, because Guan speaks highly of Marinated Hand Smashed Cucumber ($8.95) and Bacon Wrapped Shrimp and Scallops ($12.95). These appetizers are not usual Chinese dishes, yet it’s nice to deviate from the norm.
“Hand Smashed Cucumber is my favorite cold appetizer,” states Guan. It’s refreshing, and I just love that pieces of cucumber are marinated with shoyu, garlic and chili flakes.”
The award-winning restaurant also offers a total of three banquet rooms, each capable of seating up to 75 people, catering to every occasion.
“I encourage locals to come down to Waikiki and see what we’re all about,” says Guan. “We offer kamaaina discounts as well.”
Seafood Village Chinese Cuisine
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa
2424 Kalakaua Ave., # 103, Honolulu
Daily, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (lunch); 5–10 p.m. (dinner)