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.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year, DFS style

Nadine Kam photos
Morimoto's offering was foie gras chawanmushi with wasabi. It was so good I considered going back for seconds.

DFS Galleria Waikiki hosted its inaugural Aloha Nights block party on Kalakaua Avenue on Jan. 3, and brought in some major names to feed those who stopped to hear Jake Shimabukuro, Keola Beamer and Raiatea Helm perform, catch a glimpse of
Japanese TV personality IKKO, or check out what's inside the galleria, including the largest cosmetics department on the island.

The community thank-you party also celebrated the launch of The Vault Collection presented by DFS. The collection showcases rare and exceptional products that have never been seen in Hawaii, and is being shown by appointment only, through DFS Platinum Services Club at 931-2820.

The collection includes rare time pieces, exotic leather handbags from Chloe, Celine, Salvatore Ferragamo and more, as well as Bvlgari Sapphire Flower Collection jewelry Van Cleef & Arpels Snowflake floweret diamond necklace.

But a majority of those milling around Kalakaua were more in a more primal mode, figuring out what was for dinner at booths manned by Alan Wong's, Azure, Chai's Island Bistro, The Beachhouse at the Moana, Kai Market at the Sheraton, Morimoto's, Nobu, Roy's Waikiki, and Wolfgang's Steakhouse, which was serving a hamburger slider with chips for $5. There was a lot of beef all around, so I was hoping Wolfgang's would be offering their thick slabs of bacon or crab cakes.

As for how primal? Well, it just goes to show that locals know how to behave and keep a natural flow going at street fairs, by studying the signs from a distance so as not to get anyone's way, ordering quickly and moving aside to get out of the next person's way. But tourists came darting in at every direction, standing right at the table to study the signs for unduly long intervals, and there were a lot of Japanese tourists getting shoved by their larger Western counterparts.

The food was great though, and if DFS brings this back next year, maybe more locals will attend to show these tourists how it's done!

Robbyn Shim of Roy's Restaurants shows a plate of sous vide pork belly and roasted Hamakua mushroom baos that the restaurant was offering at $6 for three pieces or $2 each. This was before the varied toppings and sauces went on. Guests could help themselves, and they pretty much helped themselves to everything, which is partly why the line here was so long.

The pork was broke da mouth tender and though the mushroom doesn't look like much, it was super ono and tender as well! A nice man behind me in line thought I looked hopeless juggling camera and all, so he offered to help me with the toppings.

I started at the Ewa end of the food tents, where The Beachhouse at the Moana presented slices of grilled flat iron steak with apple wood-smoked bacon, sitting atop Surfing Goat cheese & macaroni, and topped with Kahuku corn jalapeno relish and gogi berry port wine demi, all for $5.

Tonkatsu specialists Ginza Bairin also offered chicken curry and had several takers rush up when they called out their last orders.

Azure restaurant offered an Alaskan crab claw with mustard creme fraiche and caviar, for $5.

The simplicity of ahi poke, Nobu style, was also appreciated.