Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Jade Dynasty Seafood RestaurantRestaurant Insider
December 29, 2019
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
ANNE LEE speaks with Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant owner SYLVIA HO
Nestled within Ala Moana Center on Hookipa Terrace, Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant opened its doors in December 2010 and will mark its 10-year anniversary in 2020 of serving the finest in Chinese cuisine.
Owner Sylvia Ho explains that the elegant establishment specializes in Hong Kong style Cantonese dim sum and seafood. She shares that it’s more modern cuisine, healthier, and less oil is used. It combines the best of both traditional and innovative dishes.
“We have traditional options of dim sum, but we also offer more modern items such as our snow mountain char siu bun — this is light and flaky and baked,” Ho adds.
I had a chance to sit down with Sylvia Ho to talk more about her award winning restaurant Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant.
AL: What makes the restaurant stand out from other restaurants on the island?
SH: Before opening Jade Dynasty in 2010, we have had many successful restaurants in Hawaii. Royal Steak & Seafood, our very first restaurant was at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, as well as Lobster and Crab House and Antonio’s. We opened Seafood Village at the Hyatt shortly after that. We wanted to change the concept of Seafood Village. Last year, timing was good as our lease was up also, and coincidentally the owners of Kirin wanted to retire. That is how we incorporated Kirin into the Seafood Village space and concept, keeping the chef, workers etc. We opened Atlantis Seafood & Steak on Kalakaua also. Our concept is to invest in our chefs and employees. We have our chefs train with the best teams in Hong Kong and bring that knowledge and skill back to Hawaii and into the cuisine. Our chefs have been with us since the beginning, and our chefs can provide more than the basic beef and broccoli dish and give patrons options similar to what you would be able to experience in Hong Kong and China. Nowadays you have many people that do travel to different parts of the world. We want to be able to provide cuisine for these palates.
AL: Does the restaurant have a specific motto or mission it runs by? What is your goal?
SH: We had family gatherings in mind when we created this restaurant. We would like to provide good food and service to the community. Our local clientele love to bring their family, friends and out of town guests to Jade Dynasty for dim sum and dishes that they’re unable to get in other restaurants. Every other month we try to create new seasonal dishes for our customers. We emphasize service, cleanliness, different types of food — especially after I travel, I come up with different dishes that we offer here, based on dishes I tried on my travels to Asia.
AL: Who is executive/head chef at the restaurant? Dim sum chef is Yi Bin Liu. SH: Kitchen chef is Kwok Wah Chan. I am very thankful of their willingness to work with me on the new dishes.
AL: What is the restaurant’s most popular dish?
SH: Our Turnip Cake. We use lots of turnips in our dish. We buy so much turnip! This is also a popular dish for Chinese New Year.
AL: What are some of the restaurant’s other specialties or customer favorites? SH: The Snow Mountain Char Siu Bun is a favorite item. This is light and flaky, a little bit sweet and salty. Other popular dishes are Honey Garlic Ribs, Salt & Pepper Crab, Pomelo Chicken Salad, and our dim sum is very popular.
AL: Any specials or events coming up? SH: We offer our annual Chinese New Year 9-course Special Menu from now until Feb. 15, 2020, $488 for a table of 10. We ask for one day in advance notice. We start with Steamed Scallop in half shell with garlic and long rice, Shark Fin Soup, Golden Chicken with roasted garlic, Steamed Whole Fish with Scallion & Soy Sauce, Lobster with Ginger & Onion on a bed of noodles, Braised Pork Rib in chef’s special sauce, New Year good luck Jai, Sticky Rice and Mochi Balls in sweet Ginger Broth. We will also have a lion dance on Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. This is really popular. A lot of our guests reserve a year in advance.
AL: Anything else you’d like to share about the restaurant?
SH: With Jade Dynasty located in Ala Moana Shopping Center, there’s a lot of ample free parking. We also have a 32-foot stage and 150-inch high definition screen. It’s great for banquets and parties of various occasions. We also have various sizes of private rooms that can accommodate 10 to 60 people. We often have clients that want to buy out the restaurant for parties. There’s enough space for 32 tables of 10. We also provide high quality audio systems for our clients.
AL: How long have you been owner at this restaurant? What got you into the culinary industry?
SH: About nine years. Travel Industry Management was my major at University of Hawaii. My husband, Alan, who is also owner of the restaurant, worked at Spencecliff restaurant here in Hawaii.
AL: What is your favorite part of your job?
SH: I’m able to create new dishes and special menus for my clients. I make a lot of friends through what I do.
• 1 daikon radish (about 20 ounces, grated)
• 1 to 1 1/2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon dried shrimp (washed, soaked and chopped)
• 3-5 dried shiitake mushrooms (washed, soaked, and chopped)
• 1 Chinese sausage (diced)
• 1 scallion (chopped)
• 1 1/4 cups rice flour
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
• 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
Add the grated turnip and 1 cup water to a wok or large pan, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the turnip does not brown. The turnip will produce liquid, some of which will evaporate. You will have liquid left in the wok with the radish that you will also use. Scoop the cooked turnip into a large mixing bowl to cool. Pour any remaining liquid in the wok into a measuring cup, and add water until you have a total of 1 cup of liquid. Add it to the mixing bowl with the cooked turnip.
Clean your wok or pan and place it over medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons of oil. Add the shrimp, mushrooms, and sausage, and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped scallion and remove from the heat to cool.
Add rice flour, cornstarch, salt, sugar, and white pepper to the mixing bowl with the radish and cooking liquid. Mix well until the dry ingredients are well-incorporated. Add in the cooked shrimp, mushrooms and sausage, and be sure to scrape the oil from the pan into the batter. Mix well and let sit for 15 minutes.
Give the batter a final stir, and pour it into a well-oiled loaf pan. Place the pan into a steamer with plenty of water and steam over medium-high heat for 50 minutes.
Remove the pan from the steamer and let your turnip cake set for about 30 minutes. Once cooled, loosen the sides with a spatula and turn it out onto a cutting board. It should come out quite easily.
Use a sharp knife dipped in water to slice 1⁄2-inch thick pieces. I know people who’d enjoy it just like that, but most people pan-fry the turnip cake first. Add a couple tablespoons oil to a non-stick or seasoned cast iron pan over medium heat. Fry the cakes on both sides until golden and crispy. Serve with oyster sauce!
Note: You can also make this turnip cake in advance, refrigerate it in the loaf pan, and slice/fry later. If you’ve refrigerated turnip cakes that you’ve already fried, the best way to reheat them is to re-fry them in a pan.