Feast Away For Chinese New YearCover Story
January 28, 2018
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
Around the world, many cultures have New Year’s traditions that involve eating certain foods for good luck.
At midnight on New Year’s Eve, Spaniards eat exactly 12 grapes — one for every month and toll of the bell — to help ensure a good year for wine. Polish people eat pickled herring, believing its silver color symbolizes prosperity. And in China, the typical New Year’s dinner is an elaborate feast in which almost every ingredient in every dish is thought to bring luck for the coming year.
You can embrace the traditions of China at Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant, where a spectacular New Year’s dinner for 10, offered through Feb. 28, provides ample opportunities for gustatory good fortune.
Even the number of courses — nine — carries meaning. “Chinese usually like to have a lot extra,” chuckles Sylvia Ho, owner of Jade Dynasty. “Extra is good. That’s why when you go to a banquet you don’t have just one, two or three dishes. It’s normally eight, nine or 10. Each number is significant.”
In ancient China, the number nine was associated with the emperor; even his robes were commonly embroidered with nine dragons. And in Cantonese, the word for “nine” is a homonym for the word for “longevity.”
From the start of one’s dining experience, Jade Dynasty provides an impressive setting for a feast whose every ingredient symbolizes longevity, harmony and prosperity. At the entrance, a handsome pair of enormous brass horses flanks the delicately carved portal. The spacious main dining area is lush with crimson and burgundy. Crystals sparkle from the ceiling over the bar, and from lambskin chandeliers custom-made with a design exclusive to the restaurant. Servers wear gold uniforms that complement the chandeliers and the front of the bar, which is butterscotch-colored stone, sliced wafer-thin and translucent.
The restaurant is known for its Hong Kong-inspired fare and dim sum service, while the chefs are constantly coming up with creative spins on traditional dishes. For the new year celebration, the special menu will heat up with Lobster with Ginger & Onion on a bed of noodles, and Braised Pork Ribs with Buns, just to name a few. (Check out the sidebar to the right for the complete holiday menu.)
Located at Ala Moana Center’s Hookipa Terrace, the restaurant is the perfect place in which to host a vast variety of meetings, events and celebrations. A 32-foot area provides a dais for wedding parties, or a stage for bands and hula performances. For events with video, there’s a giant high-definition screen over the bar, so that guests seated at tables don’t have to turn to see the stage. The restaurant seats about 320, and rooms can be partitioned off for private events for 10 to 60 guests.
“We get people from the pharmaceutical, medical and financial industries that do business presentations,” says general manager Gary Chan. “We have a lot of wedding receptions, graduations, society meetings and birthdays. We’ve hosted parties for 1-year-olds and 100-year-olds!”
Jade Dynasty will offer its New Year’s feast through February 28, priced at $438 for nine delectable courses that will feed a table of 10. One day’s advance notice is required. For the ultimate in good fortune, the restaurant will host a traditional Lion Dance at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve (Feb. 15), and at 6:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day (Feb. 16). Reserve your table today.
YOU’RE IN LUCK
Each of the nine delightful courses on Jade Dynasty’s Chinese New Year Menu ($438 for a table of 10) symbolizes promise for the year ahead:
• Deep Fried Shrimp Balls & Jellyfish symbolizes fortune coming with blooming flowers.
• Imitation Shark’s Fin Soup stands for harmony, feeling just like a fish in water.
• Golden Chicken with Roasted Garlic is a nod to the phoenix bringing good news.
• Steamed Whole Fish with Scallions respresents wishes for prosperity every year.
• Lobster with Ginger & Onion on a bed of noodles connects to the spirit and health of the dragon.
• Braised Pork Ribs with Buns hopes to bring promotions at every step.
• New Year Good Luck “Jai” symbolizes wealth’s source.
• Sticky Rice with Preserved Meats in Lotus Wrap promotes an easygoing atmosphere.
• Mochi Balls in Sweet Ginger Broth offers good fortune and good endings.