Wednesday, January 19, 2011

500-plus fill Jade Dynasty

Nadine Kam photos
Enter the dragon! The grand opening of Jade Dynasty restaurant at Ala Moana Center's Ho'okipa Terrace was marked by a grand Hong Kong-style celebration featuring one dragon and eight lions.

More than 520 guests poured into the newly open Jade Dynasty at Ala Moana Center's Ho'okipa Terrace Jan. 18, for the restaurant's grand opening celebration.

When I arrived, some people were already leaving, claiming it was too hot inside the packed restaurant. People were clustered in front of the stage to hear the greetings and speeches, but at the entrance, there was room to mill about, and study the five roast pigs that were being set up at one of the food and drink stations representing the five corners of the world.

Looking at the crowd made me wonder how they were going to feed that many people in that standing-room-only audience, but once the speechifying was over, the crowd parted into their separate lines snaking toward the food tables, service was rather quick.

Some grabbed their plates and headed off to the smaller private dining rooms on the side, where there were chairs and doors to shut out some of the noise. In the room closest to the stage, I found designers Eric Chandler and Takeo holded up with 2011 Miss Hawaii USA Angela Byrd and 2011 Miss Hawaii Teen USA Courtney Coleman, as well as Avanti Fashion vp Jenny Hui, Blossom Tyau, Ed and Leilani Keough. When things got a little too hectic, restaurant co-owner Alan Ho's wife Sylvia also took a few minutes refuge there before braving the crowd again.

Other guests simply moved from line to line, eating while standing and waiting to get to the front for the array of pork, noodles and dim sum, which are among the restaurant's specialties. Some of my favorite dishes of the evening were the kau yuk, char siu, shrimp dumplings, honey walnut shrimp and roast pork bao.

The restaurant is a major addition to the center. The last time we saw a restaurant this big in the area was China House. It's an ambitious move for the Hong Kong based Paramount Banquet Halls, no doubt with an eye toward continued local banquet business, as well as anticipating growth in Chinese tourism in coming years. There's nothing like finding a familiar name (Paramount has 22 restaurants in Hong Kong) when you're in a foreign city!

Five roast pigs were featured at the food station closest to the restaurant's entrance.

Kau yuk, char siu and chow fun were being offered toward the back of the room, in front of the stage.

This table featured chicken, deep-fried tofu and honey-walnut shrimp.

At the dim sum table were crispy gau gee, shrimp dumplings and crystal taro dumplings.

Jade Dynasty partners Alan Ho, left and Ave Kwok, welcomed more than 500 guests to the opening.

Ave Kwok with his wife Sally, and Ho Ka Lok Benny, director of the Hong Kong-based Paramount Catering Group, which has 22 restaurants there. Jade Dynasty is the group's first overseas restaurant, and the group is aiming for further expansion.

Alan Ho with his wife Sylvia.

The lions finish their blessing outside the restaurant. A tourist who happened to stop by while I was getting some air outside said she was thrilled to have accidentally stumbled upon the cultural event.

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