Dining In StyleCover Story Features
May 7, 2017
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
The facade of The Mandalay, Alakea Street’s favorite Chinese restaurant, includes a limestone-and-tile mural of a sweeping ocean wave.
Compared to the dragon-draped columns and lacquered gingerbread on some of Honolulu’s other Chinese restaurants, the handsome mural might seem understated. But its textures and elegance are echoed throughout The Mandalay’s decor: subdued lighting, embroidered crimson tablecloths, etched-glass doors, graceful porcelain vases in recessed alcoves. Intriguing textures and subtle elegance are also emblematic of The Mandalay’s cuisine.
“We emphasize quality, and our kitchen makes everything fresh,” says Larry Chan, who co-owns The Mandalay with his wife, Linda. “We make our dim sum daily — from scratch, one by one.”
In many Chinese restaurants, pre-cooked dim sum is served from carts pushed from table to table, so that guests may peer at the offerings and make their selections. The Chans, however, were early pioneers of cartless dim sum service. Why eliminate the carts? “The texture and quality are so much better!” Chan explains. “Dim sum in carts tends to overcook. It still tastes good, but you can tell the difference.”
Chinese cuisine is steeped in tradition, but the Chans are always willing to explore changes that improve the taste of their extensive menu.
This month, for example, their featured dishes include Orange Chicken ($12.95) — a ubiquitous item on most Chinese buffets. “But what’s special about our orange chicken is that our chef uses juice extracted from fresh oranges,” Chan says. “It costs more, but it’s worth it.”
Barbecued Baby Back Ribs also are highlighted this month. Succulent and tender, the ribs may be ordered à la carte, and Chan notes that they’re one of the most popular dishes on the banquet menu.
Now that spring has arrived in the Islands, that banquet menu is in constant use at The Mandalay. But the busy season really never ends. With room for 350 guests on two spacious levels, the restaurant frequently hosts wedding receptions, birthday and graduation parties, political fundraisers and other celebrations. Offsite catering also is a huge part of their business.
Furnished with huge tables outfitted with turntables in their centers, The Mandalay is the perfect place for a big ohana or group of friends to enjoy a family-style feast. Three of this month’s featured dishes are ideal for such gatherings.
Perennial favorite Peking Duck ($36), for example, is a showstopper of a presentation: a whole or half duck, crispy and aromatic, served with snowy-white steamed buns and plum sauce.
Seafood with Vegetables in Taro Basket ($21 small, $38 large) is another special dish this month. In this recipe, shredded taro is fashioned into a nest, deep-fried, then filled with a melange of shrimp, calamari, scallops and fish, along with carrots, mushrooms and snap peas.
Finally, Golden Shrimp ($19.95), impeccably crafted with shrimp dipped in salted egg yolk, then battered and deep-fried, is one of Chan’s favorites. “I eat out a lot, and as far as I’m concerned, our restaurant is one of the cleanest and classiest,” he says. “That’s what keeps our customers coming back.”
SPEND Mother’s Day AT THE MANDALAY
Make your plans now for Mother’s Day at The Mandalay! Celebrate Mom at the Dim Sum Brunch Buffet with a delectable assortment of Hong Kong-style dim sum. There are five seatings for this popular buffet, starting at 9:30 a.m. and ending at 1:30 p.m. Or treat Mom and your whole family to a Dinner Buffet featuring prime rib, roast pig, crab legs and Peking duck. There are two seatings for dinner: 5 and 7 p.m.
1055 Alakea St., Downtown
Daily, 10:30 A.M.-8 P.M.