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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lavish menu helps usher in the New Year

Pei San Tu, Andrew Lee and Willy Xu, from left, offer guests a wide assortment of dim sum items.

Photos by Randy T. Fujimori

Hong Kong Harbour View Restaurant

Where: Second floor, Aloha Tower Marketplace

Call: 566-9989

Hours: Daily from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; dim sum service until 2:30 p.m.

Parking: Validated

Note: A traditional lion dance will be performed starting at 7 p.m.; fireworks will also be set off.

An old Chinese proverb says if a strange dog follows you into your home, you'll be bestowed with good luck for the rest of the year, so said Karl Kao, a reporter with the Taiwanese newspaper World General and a good friend of Hong Kong Harbour View owner Li May Tang.

"I hope one follows me here," smiled the charming Tang, referring to Hong Kong Harbour View. "This might as well be my home since I'm here so often."

With the advent of Chinese New Year (Jan. 29), chef Chih Chieh Chang has developed a special one-day-only "Year of the Dog" menu for $38.89 per person for a minimum of 10 people.

Pointing to what looked more like an ice-cream cone sprinkled with flecks of chocolate chips, Chang said that this was actually a crispy golden abalone roll, one of his newest dishes.

"If you want, you can even eat it as if you were eating an ice-cream cone," Chang laughed. "It's not sweet, but it does taste good."

Gaining a reputation for his innovative Chinese cuisine, Chang enjoys playing with ingredients and presentation when developing new dishes or coming up with a special-occasion menu, like this one for New Year's.

"I'm always looking for different ideas," Chang said. "Cooking is an art and it can always improve and change."

While Chang likes to push his dishes to a contemporary fusion level, it doesn't mean that he has completely abandoned traditional Chinese cuisine.

For example, his New Year menu will feature such trusted dishes as shark's fin soup steeped with bits of crab meat, Peking duck with buns and live Maine lobster sauteed with butter and garlic then served over e-mein noodles.

Chang's inclusion of jai is the epitome of a traditional feast, without which no veritable Chinese New Year menu would be quite complete.

Commonly known as monk's food or, charmingly, as Buddha's delight, jai is a vegetarian stew that varies from region to region, chef to chef. However, the technique is common: Mushrooms and assorted vegetables are quickly stir-fried, then stewed in broth along with bits of tofu, long rice (bean threads) and more vegetables, as well as seasonings.

Also included in the lavish New Year's menu is Chinese-style steamed whole fish and fried rice mixed with shreds of abalone and dried scallop.

"My hope for this year is to see continued success for the restaurant," said manager Andrew Lee. "I would like to attract more customers and keep them as regulars."

Chef Chang says his golden abalone roll looks like an ice-cream cone.
To help ensure diners' well-being throughout the Year of the Dog, Chang will prepare miniature individual gao, a type of mochi cake the round shape of which is symbolic of family cohesiveness.

Chang's gao, though, isn't the the Cantonese version that's widely seen in the Islands. His is Shanghai-style, the recipe and technique for which he learned from a visiting Shanghai chef who served this to President Bill Clinton when he toured the Asian country back in 1998.

"It's not just made with rice flour and topped with sesame seeds and a single red date," Chang said. "This one has lots of dates and looks more like a strawberry shortcake."

Kung Hee Fat Choy!