A ‘Garden’ of Eatin’Ali Carte Columns
October 7, 2012
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Leah Friel
Since 1984, Royal Garden has allowed locals and tourists alike to escape to a world of traditional Hong Kong-style Cantonese food. Upon entering the pristine, spacious and ornate interior of the restaurant, patrons are often surprised to learn that it has been situated within Ala Moana Hotel for 28 years. The minute they taste the refined flavors of its tried-and-true classics, however, they realized they’ve entered a culinary landmark of sorts.
In fact, the most loyal of customers remember the establishment’s original location on Keeaumoku Street, back when it was called Capital Chinese Restaurant. Why did they keep coming back after it moved? It’s as simple as good eats.
“I want to tell you about one of our specialties,” says owner Calvin Wong, when describing Live Maine Lobster Royal Garden Style (seasonal pricing), one of the most popular dishes. “It’s really special compared to how other Chinese restaurants prepare it. We call it Royal Garden style because our way of cooking it is with minced garlic, shallots, butter and a very rich chicken broth.” Such a velvety garlic sauce pairs beautifully with the high-quality lobster.
Another dish you truly won’t see anywhere else is Baked Conch Shell ($6.95), overflowing with a savory mixture of scallop, shrimp and pork. What makes this opulent platter so unique is its beautiful curry sauce accented with Parmesan cheese for a surprisingly delicious flavor. “It’s one of our signature dishes,” adds manager Ian Tam.
When it comes to starters, Deep Fried Stuffed Tofu ($11.95) is great to pass around the table. “It’s simple, but really elegant,” explains Wong. “The tofu is soft on the inside, but we make the outside crispy.” These delicate bites are filled with baby shrimp and served with a spicy green onion sauce.
And for an absolute classic, try Shrimp with Honey Glazed Walnuts ($20.95). Puffy shrimp are doused in a creamy sauce and garnished with honey-glazed walnuts bejeweled with sesame seeds.
Retreating to an oasis of Chinese cuisine has never been so easy.
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: Daily, 5:30-10 p.m.