Archive for January, 2011

500-plus fill Jade Dynasty

January 19th, 2011

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.

Eat and tell: Foodspotting turns 1

January 16th, 2011

Photos courtesy Nathan Kam

The Foodspotting app makes it easy to eat and tell.

There’s a social media site for every special interest. For lovers of food porn, there’s, which celebrated its first anniversary Jan. 15 with its first World Foodspotting Day. In that year, top Food Spotters like Pongchai of Thailand, have spotted more than 4,000 plates and racked up more than 75,000 points in the process. Randy F., of Palo Alto, Calif., has more than 100,000 points. Having just joined three months ago, I’ve contributed fewer than 50 dishes so far, but I hope to encounter more attractive plates in 2011 and beyond!

Foodspotting happens to favor the pretty, because people can choose to “nom” or “want” your dish, and they can only “taste” with their eyes. For those who like to keep score, you gain the most points (20!) when someone noms your dish.

Food is pervasive across social media sites because for those desperate for a subject, food is easy. Most people are sitting down to two or three meals a day anyway, so it’s no stretch to snap a picture and upload it quickly to any site. And chefs should be happy their dishes are being immortalized because food, like performance arts, is ephemeral. A particular dish is enjoyed by an individual once and it’s just gone. A photo can help keep memories of a great meal alive.

Foodspotting  is a place where foodies around the globe can congregate to share their plates with others. They make clear it’s all about the food, not the restaurant, so pictures are closeups of food. No people, no signs, no interiors. It’s great for the armchair traveler planning his or her next culinary adventure.

Menn photo
One of my favorite finds on Foodspotting, Menn’s Xiao Long Bao (eight flavors!) from Paradise Dynasty in Singapore. Oh, the food you will meet online, if not eat.

A decade ago, taking photos of food in restaurants was still so rare I didn’t dare do it here because, as a restaurant reviewer, it would have called too much attention to myself. On a trip to New Mexico, I was taking pictures and writing in a journal just because I was traveling alone, and a waiter asked if I was a food writer, because the particular restaurant was a national media darling and was always hosting press.

Now, I take photos all the time, just another face in the vast crowd. I joined Foodspotting about three months ago to share some of the photos left over from my reviews.

Locally, Nathan Kam (no relation) could not let the occasion go unmarked in Hawaii, and hosted a small gathering of Hawaii Foodspotters at downtown in the Hawaii State Museum. I have a feeling that the second anniversary will be much bigger, as someone who was on Twitter, as @Fashiiontribe, for two years before it blew up. I mean, random thoughts are one thing; love of food is potentially much bigger!

I was bummed I couldn’t make it because I had a date with my accountant in Kailua to start strategizing over 2011 and the mess that was 2010. But Nathan graciously allowed me to use some of his photos and Ed Kenney did not fail to make the food look as pretty as usual. And, I’m sure for those actually at the table, tasty as always.

Check out more photos at Nathan Kam’s foodspotting page:

Thanks Nathan!

And check out my page too:

Photos courtesy Nathan Kam
Pan-roasted opah.

Food spotters eat and post, Rebecca Pang, Christine Strobel, Teo Nguyen and Renee Iha.

The littlest food spotter, Nathan’s son Ensen Kam. Dad was behind the camera the whole time.

Bitter greens with almonds and raisins.