‘Crazy Rich’ DishesOno, You Know
September 2, 2018
Story By: Ellise Kakazu | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
I watched the movie Crazy Rich Asians last week and completely fell in love.
In fact, after watching the box office hit, I devised a plan to live out my own version of the film and pretend for a day or two that I am a crazy, rich Asian, too. Of course being the foodie I am, my first thought of living the luxurious life led me to dream about expensive eatable items like escargot, wagyu steak and caviar.
But let’s be real.
I am not actually swimming in money like the characters in the movie, so I thought of something that still is lavish but more affordable, abalone.
After doing some research on the delicacy, I found that abalone often symbolizes good fortune and high status in China, which is probably why it is often found at Chinese restaurants. However, its prevalence in kitchens may soon wither, as abalone market prices are on the rise.
As the saying goes, “Time is money,” so let’s not waste any of it — this opulent Asian adventure starts now!
EAT ‘TIL YOU DROP
Our indulgent journey begins at Ala Moana Center.
While the large outdoor mall is known for its high-end retail stores, this visit does not involve shopping. What it does entail is decadent dishes found at Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant, a popular Chinese restaurant that features dazzling decor, an elegant dining area and exquisite food.
Much like its luxurious ambience, Jade Dynasty’s menu items will make customers feel like queens and kings.
Whether one decides to order a variety of dim sum or a few entree selections from the dining hot spot’s extensive menu, customers are sure to be pleased.
According to owner Sylvia Ho, one of the most popular dim sum items is Jade Dynasty’s original Snow Mountain Char Siu Bun, which was inspired by Ho’s travels to Hong Kong. Ho explains she wants to “bring more innovative dishes” to Hawaii, providing locals and visitors with something new to enjoy.
Jade Dynasty’s latest creation is Poached Kona Abalone (served chilled) ($14.95 per piece), an item that requires much time and care to perfect. The chef cleans the abalones, creates a special broth, cooks the abalones in the broth and chills them for about 24 hours before they can grace one’s plate.
Each piece of abalone really is as precious as a jewel — an abalone can take years to grow to an eatable size. Ho notes abalone is a symbol of prosperity and is not cheap.
Since abalone is such a prized seafood gem, Jade Dynasty’s Poached Kona Abalone should be savored. Biting into the abalone’s juicy meat, one can enjoy its natural flavors, as the chef does not use overpowering seasonings to flavor this treat. A small dish filled with a light soy sauce and a dot of wasabi is provided with the abalone for dipping.
Jade Dynasty also offers other succulent abalone items, such as Braised Sliced Abalone with Jelly Fish, Braised Whole Abalone with Supreme Oyster Sauce, Abalone Mochi Rice and Braised Sliced Abalone with Seasonal Vegetable.
So, if you too want to feel like a Crazy Rich Asians character, I highly recommend trying one of Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant’s abalone dishes. The food, atmosphere and service will make you feel like a million bucks.
GOOD AS GOLD
This venture would not be complete without a stroll through Honolulu’s vibrant Chinatown. With an array of businesses and vendors lining its streets, Chinatown is the place to be when searching for Asian goods and more. One can find anything from beautiful hand-sewn lei to Chinese herbs, and of course tasty bites.
There are many restaurants in the area that serve up good food, but there is one that I highly recommend visiting — Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant on North King Street.
Golden Palace is a family-owned and operated business that has been feeding the community for years. General manager Gary Lam explains his father Howard, who sharpened his cooking skills in Hong Kong, opened the restaurant in 2001, turning his dream into a reality.
“It’s always been a dream of his (Howard’s),” notes Lam.
The riches of the world could not buy the respect, care and sense of family found at Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant. “We actually get to know a lot of the customers on a personal basis,” says Lam. According to Lam, many diners have been coming in for years, some even stop by every day.
Regulars often order traditional entree and dim sum items consisting of pork, shrimp, beef and chicken, but there are some swanky dishes that help customers step up their dining game. Among the more fancy offerings is Abalone with Black Mushroom ($13.95), a luscious dish featuring lettuce, shiitake mushrooms, and thinly sliced abalone, which are topped with a house-made gravy made from the abalone’s natural juices.
Lam explains Abalone with Black Mushroom is more so a traditional dish, as abalone often is paired with shiitake mushrooms in China. “It’s one of the more well-known abalone dishes in Chinese-Hong Kong cuisine,” says Lam. “The abalone and shiitake mushrooms are pretty much a staple.”
“Abalone can get to be very, very expensive,” he also notes. Luckily, Golden Palace’s abalone dishes are quite affordable, so one can enjoy them again and again. Another menu item that features the delicacy is Ab-alone with Choy Sum, which also is reasonably priced at $13.95.
Pairing an entree like Abalone with Black Mushroom with an assortment of dim sum or another menu item is not uncommon, as diners can feast like royalty due to the restaurant’s extremely low prices — all of Golden Palace’s dim sum are $2.69 per order.
“We have the lowest prices on the island,” notes Lam. “We don’t sacrifice quality or quantity, and it’s family run.”
This week, I learned an important lesson — one doesn’t have to be rolling in dough to eat richly. My piggy bank still is intact, so it looks like there will be many more crazy, rich meals ahead. Ah, life is good.