On all of O'ahu there is no better Chinese food. And, being in a city with such a rich supply of Asian dining choices that's a pretty big huge statement. Be forewarned... You do have to be prepared for slightly higher prices and much more subtle flavor than most Chinese restaurants. I've had the owner, who can be found trying his very hardest on even the most busy of nights to stop by each table to say "thank you" for coming in, say that they do not use cornstarch in making their sauces. This means a whole lot more creativity and care goes into the choosing of ingredients and preparation of the otherwise traditional Chinese dishes. The sauces are not heavy and the layers of flavor are amazing. The atmosphere like the wait service, is average at best, but if you have the owner stop by your table to say "hi" or his wife or sister in-law to flirt a bit with your two year old, well then, who really cares about the physical space. It's loud-- just go with it and invite a large group of friends along so you can add to the clinking and chattering that fills the banquet hall-esque space. You can bring in your own alcohol--really a little cooler full if you'd like, and for a $5 corking fee glasses and table side pouring will be provided for wine and such. Our go to faves... The Peking Duck (pretty pricey but you can do a half order), Walnut Shrimp, (Oh my gosh I just die for this), The fresh spinach salad with Ka'u orange vinagrette, (seriously delish), The steamed flounder, (drizzle the extra sauce on your steamed rice-- yummo)... and the dessert. That amazingly kind owner just so happens is a former Halekulani pastry chef. Oh do save room for one of his creative desserts.
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Yep, that's right. Joyful Garden is simply a joyful surprise from the moment you step into the glass doors. The decor is elegantly done and the menu spans the spectrum from local Chinese tastes to sophisticated Hong Kong cuisine. The party menus are exceptional, be sure to have the double cooked chicken soup and flaming crab served at your table. Everything that I've tried on the menu has not disappointed me. Joyful Garden also serves dim sum for a late breakfast / early lunch every day of the week. While it certainly cannot compare to Fook Lam at the Cultural Plaza, it's a nice knosh if you want to stay on the Windward side. Make sure to try the crispy custard rolls with hot tea. They beat the same pastry served at Fook Lam, hands down.
So you know I'm in love with Pah ke's up the road right? Well, this is our less expensive, although also not as refined flavors wise, go to place for incredible Chinese food. The setting in this place is amazing and makes for such a sweet place to take friends for dinner or lunch or even to host a small to medium sized party in their party room. They really do seem to value their customers here and I have never been disappointed with either the service or the food. We even stopped in one afternoon for the dim sum cart experience and had a blast choosing little plates of steamed dishes right off of the cart that had been rolled table side. Eat here. Eat here often.