Feast on traditional, current Chinese fare
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Royal Garden Chinese Restaurant, located on the third floor of Ala Moana Hotel, has been serving up both modern and traditional Chinese cuisine for more than 30 years.
One traditional dish that has customers salivating is Baked Rock Salt Ranch Chicken ($45), which starts with a free-range chicken flown in from California — making it more rich in flavor and tougher than those found here.
The entree starts with the whole chicken being cooked for 30 minutes under a layer of rock salt. Then, it is brought straight out of the oven to the table for diners to see — and smell — the wonderful dish. Afterwards, servers bring the dish back to the kitchen to be arranged, prepared and plated for customers to enjoy.
The use of rock salt works to lock in the moisture and taste of the chicken, creating juicy and tender poultry.
All the work put into this one meal is what makes most Chinese restaurants stray from serving it, according to Royal Garden owner Calvin Wong. But, in keeping with tradition, the eatery proudly serves it, and customers can enjoy this if they order the chicken a day in advance.
Another dish that’ll warm your belly is Curry Seafood with Long Rice in Casserole ($18.95) with a coconut-curry base, long rice noodles, a medley of seafood — shrimp, scallops and squid — and a nice spicy kick to it.
The casserole comes out steaming in a large pot, perfect for sharing with friends and family.
Royal Garden also serves a variety of other sharable dishes from open to close, as well as delectable dim sum during lunchtime only.
Royal Garden Chinese Restaurant
Ala Moana Hotel, third floor
410 Atkinson Drive, Honolulu
Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner nightly, 5:30-9:30 p.m.