The Disappearing Era of Cantonese Restaurants in Honolulu

As the years pass by, the once-thriving Cantonese restaurants in Honolulu are gradually fading away, leaving behind a wave of nostalgia and cherished memories. Growing up in a Chinese family, my life’s milestones were celebrated with grand banquets at these establishments, creating a sense of tradition that I believed would endure for eternity.

One of our regular spots was Royal Garden, where weddings were joyously commemorated amidst the delectable fare served in taro baskets. Lau Yee Chai, with its iconic clover-shaped entrance, also held a special place in our hearts. As we savored shrimp chips and noodles, we playfully swung on the stanchions protecting the captivating paintings. Hee Hing was the go-to venue for first birthdays and graduations, where little ones would marvel at the fish swimming in the tanks, accompanied by doting grandparents or older cousins.

Seafood Village in Waikīkī had become our designated location for Christmas lunch, with my Uncle Hing Chock and Auntie Bea Wong hosting the festive gathering. Doong Kong Lau on River Street brought us together for birthdays, anniversaries, and casual dinners with our grandparents, serving up mouthwatering dishes like beef sin choy and pork hash while we enjoyed the scenic T’Sung sculpture overlooking Nu‘uanu Stream. Informal lunches with other family members included cozy bowls of jook topped with fragrant green onions and crispy youtiao, the beloved deep-fried Chinese doughnuts.

However, one by one, these treasured establishments disappeared. Lau Yee Chai, where my sisters celebrated their weddings, vanished before I had the chance to walk down the aisle. Our big day was commemorated at the Ala Moana Hotel, solely so we could have our favorite dishes from Royal Garden, which had also shuttered its doors. Even Hee Hing, the venue for my older daughter’s first birthday, was no longer in operation by the time my second daughter arrived.

Gone are the family parties at Pah Ke’s in Kāneʻohe and the pre-midnight Christmas Eve dinners at Pauoa Chop Suey. Now, my daughters associate Chinese food memories with the meals their grandmother prepares – roast pork, jook, and jai – using recipes that have been passed down through generations. Fortunately, they can still savor the taste of our family history, without the need for reservations. Nevertheless, I find myself yearning for the long-lost restaurants that effortlessly transformed ordinary meals into cherished memories.

An FAQ Section:

1. What is the main topic of the article?
The article discusses the gradual disappearance of Cantonese restaurants in Honolulu and the nostalgic memories associated with these establishments.

2. Can you provide some examples of the restaurants mentioned in the article?
– Royal Garden: A regularly visited spot for grand banquets and celebrations.
– Lau Yee Chai: Known for its iconic clover-shaped entrance and shrimp chips.
– Hee Hing: A go-to venue for first birthdays and graduations, famous for fish swimming in tanks.
– Seafood Village: A designated location for Christmas lunch, hosted by Uncle Hing Chock and Auntie Bea Wong.
– Doong Kong Lau: Brought families together for various occasions, serving mouthwatering dishes like beef sin choy and pork hash.

3. What type of occasions were celebrated at these restaurants?
Various milestones and celebrations were celebrated at these restaurants, such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and casual dinners with grandparents.

4. What has happened to these Cantonese restaurants?
One by one, these cherished restaurants have disappeared and are now closed. Some have closed before the author had the chance to celebrate important life events.

5. How have the author’s daughters started associating Chinese food memories?
The author’s daughters now associate Chinese food memories with meals prepared by their grandmother, using recipes that have been passed down through generations.

– Cantonese: Referring to the Chinese culture and cuisine originating from Guangdong Province, China.
– Nostalgia: A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past.
– Delectable: Extremely delicious or appetizing.
– Taro: A root vegetable commonly used in Asian cuisine, known for its starchy texture.
– Stanchions: Upright posts or pillars used as a barrier or support.
– Fragrant: Having a pleasant or sweet smell.
– Jook: A rice porridge commonly eaten for breakfast or during illness.
– Youtiao: Chinese crullers or deep-fried doughnuts.

Suggested Related Links:
Honolulu Magazine
Seafood Village
Ala Moana Hotel