New year luck abounds at beloved eateryA La Carte Columns
February 2, 2016
Story By: Yu Shing Ting | Photos by: Nathalie Walker
In celebration of Chinese New Year (which this year is on Feb. 8) The Mandalay in Downtown Honolulu offers special traditional Chinese New Year dishes now through Feb. 15.
Available are Jai ($12.95), Braised Pig’s Feet with Fat Choy ($58), Deep Fried Oyster Roll ($18.95), Gau ($6.95 small, $12.95 large) and more.
The Chinese like to eat Jai during the new year to cleanse their body with vegetables for a fresh start. It also typically consists of many ingredients that are symbolic, such as long rice for long life. Mandalay’s hearty Jai recipe has 18 ingredients — bean curd, black mushroom, water chestnut, black fungus, long rice, snow peas, button mushroom, tofu, golden mushroom, white fungus, chestnut, straw mushroom, carrot, red date, bamboo shoot, won bok, ginkgo nuts and lotus seeds.
Deep Fried Oyster Roll also is popular for the new year because the Chinese believe oysters symbolize good luck or good fortune. It also consists of pork and water chestnut, and according to Mandalay’s executive chef Leo Leung, this particular dish takes a long time to prepare because they first have to steam it and let it cool down before they finally can fry it for a nice crunchy, crispy texture.
Braised Pig’s Feet with Fat Choy, which needs to be ordered at least one day in advance, also is eaten for good luck, especially in regards to business and finances. The braised pig’s feet, which takes about an hour to make, is cooked separately from the fat choy, a natural vegetable that grows in China and looks like black moss, but is served together. Chef Leung notes that the treasured fat choy has become hard to find because of its high demand. Also, its name in Chinese literally translates to “become rich.”
The Mandalay also has crafted outstanding Chinese New Year set menus to celebrate the auspicious occasion (available for lunch or dinner through Feb. 15, one-day advance notice recommended).
Menu A ($328 for a table of 10) offers Deep Fried Oyster Roll, Mix Seafood with Fish Maw Soup, Smoked Tea Chicken, Sautéed Fresh Crab with Ginger Onion, Steam Fresh Catch of the Day, Jai, Braised Pig’s Feet with Fat Choy, House Special Seafood Noodle and dessert.
Menu B ($428 for a table of 10) includes House Special Roasted Squab, Imperial Scallop Soup, Peking Duck with Bun, Sautéed Lobster with Ginger Onion, Steamed Fresh Catch of the Day, Braised Abalone with Black Mushroom, Jai, Dried Egg White Scallop Fried Rice, Shredded Chicken E-mian and dessert.
For private parties, the restaurant offers rooms for 10, 20, 30 and 50 people. There also will be a traditional Chinese lion dance Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.
The Mandalay, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, is known for serving authentic Hong Kong-style cuisine and dim sum. Locally owned and operated by longtime restaurateurs husband-and-wife team Linda and Larry Chan, the elegant two-level restaurant has become a favorite for locals and tourists alike, including nearby business professionals, politicians and families. The establishment also is perfect for business meetings and special gatherings.
1055 Alakea St., Downtown
Daily, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.