Sign up for news and special offers from Dining Out
Cover Story

Ring In The Year Of The Monkey at Royal Garden

By Ali Resich Photos By ANTHONY CONSILLIO
January 25, 2016

See more articles from

Executive chef Johnny Wong holds a large Gau ($12.95), which is available during Chinese New Year.

Executive chef Johnny Wong holds a large Gau ($12.95), which is available during Chinese New Year.

With Chinese New Year approaching, Royal Garden Chinese Restaurant is ready to help customers celebrate in memorable fashion with a slew of traditional favorites.

During the week leading up to, and the week of, the Feb. 8 holiday, the Ala Moana Hotel eatery will offer a number of highly sought-after specials that no festive feast would be complete without. The first of those must-haves is New Year Jai ($14.95), featuring a tried-and-true blend of black mushrooms, Chinese peas, bamboo shoots and tofu, all strewn among glassy strands of soft long rice. According to Calvin Wong, who owns the restaurant with his brother and executive chef Johnny, this vegetarian dish is commonly eaten on the first day of the new year as a light and healthy option after the meat-filled dining that takes place on the eve of the momentous occasion.

Royal Garden invites guests to purchase its authentically made Gau ($8.95 small, $12.95 large; available for a limited time), which must be steamed for hours before it is ready to be sold. Wong shares that customers often will purchase their Gau from the eatery, then take it home to chill overnight in the fridge and then pan-fry it with some eggs the next day — like the customary practice in Southern China.

The popular Chinese restaurant, which has been serving upscale Cantonese Hong Kong-style fare at the hotel for nearly 30 years, also introduces Minced Dried Oyster with Lettuce Wraps ($16.95) this time of year. A delightful combination of bamboo shoots, black mushrooms and water chestnuts accompany the dried oysters, and guests may wrap the mixture in a fresh lettuce leaf and munch away. “Most Chinese eat oyster (during the new year) because the Chinese pronunciation for oyster means prosperity — so expect to make more money in the coming year,” says Wong.

As kamaaina get ready to welcome the Year of the Monkey, they can enjoy a few of Royal Garden’s most popular dishes that are available year-round, but are especially requested during festive occasions like Chinese New Year. Take Braised Sea Cucumber ($19.95), for example, which is regarded as a delicacy with many health benefits. Here, it is prepared with black mushrooms and vegetables in oyster sauce. Patrons also will be ordering Baked Stuffed Top Shell ($6.95), which is one of Royal Garden’s signature dishes and features diced conch shell meat and mixed seafood baked in a creamy, curry-infused sauce. “No other restaurant in town will serve this one,” adds Wong.

Those wanting to organize a get-together with family and friends will find Royal Garden to be the ideal place to do so. The restaurant offers two Royal Garden Chinese New Year Menus for parties of 10 or more, with one day’s advanced notice requested. One menu priced at $368 (per table of 10) offers Steamed Chicken Soup, Shrimp with Glazed Honey Walnuts, Braised Sea Cucumber and more, while the other $468 menu (per table of 10) presents Royal Garden Roast Meat Combination, Peking Duck, Live Maine Lobster and Steamed Island Fish with ginger and green onion, among others.

So, as you start to bring out your lucky red items and anticipate exciting displays of dragon dances, be sure to add Royal Garden to your list of new year traditions.

Royal Garden Chinese Restaurant


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