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Family Legacy

Cover Story

May 30, 2021

Story By: Don Robbins | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

The Mandalay owners Linda and Larry Chan pose with the Stir-fried Rib-eye Steak with King Oyster Mushroom ($28.95) and Beef Chow Fun ($13.95).

The Mandalay has relocated to Waialae Avenue in Kaimuki from its former site in downtown Honolulu with a focus on providing spectacular Chinese cuisine.

“Currently it is a new environment so we are still very much experimenting with hours, menu items and offerings,” explains manager Christina Chan. “Our menu is streamlined to offer the usual popular Chinese fare, but we actually specialize in unique dishes that you don’t really find at your typical Chinese restaurant.”

These items are usually only available on a preorder basis, so The Mandalay is gravitating to taking private dinner reservations, in which the customer sets a custom menu beforehand.

“In this way, we want to have a greater focus on each individual dining experience as well as an emphasis on the freshness and quality of the food — quality over quantity. It also allows us to showcase our chef’s amazing talents and skills that aren’t limited to just the usual orange chicken and beef broccoli,” Chan declares.

Beef Chow Fun ($13.95)

The eatery’s mission is to provide top-notch food to a greater reach of people at reasonable prices through items such as the Grad Platter ($98) and the Dim Sum Platter ($49). For example, the Grad Platter includes four pieces each of har gow, siu mai, potstickers, shrimp chive dumplings, half-moons, spring rolls, gau gee and jin dui. It also features gon lo mein, char siu, honey walnut shrimp and green beans with ground pork. Meanwhile, the Dim Sum Platter has gon lo mein and six pieces each of shrimp dumplings, pork dumplings, steamed barbecue pork buns, potstickers and shrimp chive dumplings.

“These are great options for special occasions, but I’ve also noticed that people like to order them just for your everyday family meal,” Chan says.

The eatery also has an array of other offerings, and among them is the Beef Chow Fun ($13.95). It’s a classic that includes flat rice noodles stir-fried with bean sprouts and green onions. Meanwhile, there are items that require advance notice, such as Stir-fried Rib-eye Steak with King Oyster Mushroom ($28.95), Stir-fried Pea Leaf Shoots with Garlic ($16.95), and the Chef’s Signature Char Siu ($18).

The Mandalay has been established since 2006 in downtown, but its roots actually stem from 1992, with owners Larry and Linda Chan starting with Eastern Garden in 1992 in the same location the eatery is currently occupying in Kaimuki.

Chef’s Signature Char Siu ($18, requires advance notice)

“It is a very exciting chapter for us to return to where we originally started,” Chan explains. “Larry and Linda both have been committed to serving Hawaii quality Chinese cuisine for over 28 years,” she adds.

Both Larry and Linda were born and raised in Hong Kong, and worked their way up from servers at the local Chinese restaurant King’s Garden — which is where the couple first met — with the dream of becoming restaurateurs in their own venture.

When they got the opportunity to move into the historic Yong Sing building in downtown Honolulu, they started The Mandalay Restaurant which hosted large banquets.

“As with most, the pandemic was a time of reflection from which we ultimately decided that it was best to downsize and seek out a smaller location,” Chan says.

In addition, after more than 30 years of service in the restaurant industry, both Larry and Linda thought it was time to slow down, but their passion and enthusiasm for serving quality Chinese food never dwindled.

Stir-fried Rib-eye Steak with King Oyster Mushroom ($28.95, requires advance notice)

“As their children, we’ve been brought up with the hard work ethic that our parents had instilled in us, always working even on holidays, working in all forms of the restaurant business from dishwashing, cashiering and serving, etc.,” Chan shares. “It was important for us to carry on the legacy of what our parents had wanted to create, but we also realized the importance of evolution and adaptation in order for long-term success and sustainability,” she adds.

This is still much a venture of Larry and Linda’s, but it is not uncommon to see their children stepping up into roles to help out whenever they can.

“At the heart of it all really is family, and I want to emphasize that this really is the epitome of a family-owned and -operated business,” Chan declares.

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