Kung Hee Fat Choy

Year of Rooster crows at Maui restaurants for Chinese New Year

At Ichiban Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Kahului, owners Henry and Patsy Chan showcase their specialties in the front row as sushi chef Ren Padilla and servers Carol Jaramillo and Anna Pader all relax behind. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

The Year of the Rooster will strut into Maui’s Asian restaurants and stores starting this week with authentic and auspicious tastes sure to please your palate.

* Mike’s Hong Kong Bistro, 1900 Main St., Wailuku; 244-7888; www.mikeshongkongbistro.com

Now through Feb. 7, Mike’s Hong Kong Bistro in Wailuku will entice you with authentic Cantonese specials. Savor jai, or vegetarian “monk’s food,” made with eight to 10 exotic vegetables in secret sauce; and gau, a Chinese rice cake with coconut and brown sugar. Both jai and gau traditionally promote good luck for those who eat them. Or pick up a dozen or so jian dui, or golden sesame balls, and be the hit of any party that you throw or attend held during the new Lunar Year.

All of the New Year’s specials are family recipes of owners Mike and Tina Xiao. Natives of Guangzhou, China, they have intrinsic knowledge of Cantonese  tastes and the prices are right.

Roast pork and roast duck tempt daily as specials. “Look for more specials,” says Tina. “We will rotate these after we go to market and look for the freshest vegetables.”

Mike’s Hong Kong Bistro owner-chef Mike Xiao and his wife, Tina Xiao, are enticing with authentic jai, gao, jian dui and other authentic Chinese New Year dishes now through Feb. 7. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

Hong Kong chicken will be steamed with black mushrooms (pepiao) and green onions; baby bok choy stir-fried with sea bass; and spare ribs wok flamed in black-bean sauce. Heading up the kitchen, Mike boils meat and bones for hours for his oxtail soup stock, a rich broth brimming in a big bowl with beef, peanuts and grated ginger (people make the drive all the way from Lahaina to savor it). Dine-in or takeout is from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

And remember the longer the noodle one eats, the longer one is expected to live, according to Chinese legend. Slurp noodles and pick up the bowl to drink the broth. Most of Mike’s customers do, a testament to the soul-satisfying taste. Add hot mustard or chile paste for some kick.

Popular noodle dishes are char siu gon lo mein and crispy seafood cake noodle; and crispy gau gee mein.

In a rush? Walk past  the hot bar, laden and aromatic with Chinese and local favorites, and pick a prepared plate to go. As for catering, view the menu online to order all manner of half and full pans to go. Mike will even add garlic to shrimp fried noodles if you like. Whatever you order, it will be a Chinese feast to remember.

*A Saigon Cafe, 1792 Main St., Wailuku; 243-9560

Hurry and make reservations for Chinese New Year on Saturday at A Saigon Cafe, where lion dancers will weave  through the tables at 5:30 p.m. In addition to the regular award-winning menu, savor pork tenderloin simmered overnight in coconut juice until fork tender and topped with hard-boiled eggs and pickled vegetables; and mochi stuffed with red or mung beans or pork, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.

The Wailuku restaurant is also famous for its Vietnamese green papaya salad; garden-party shrimp; rice in a clay pot and much more.

*Ichiban Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Kahului Shopping Center, 65 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului; 871-6977

For 40 years, Ichiban Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Kahului Shopping Center has remained one of Central Maui’s most popular restaurants.

While the name is Japanese and sushi, tempura, donburi and udon are staples, the owners are Chinese and so you will find egg rolls, potstickers, stir frys, lemon chicken and shrimp chow mein on the menu.

“On Saturday, we will feature lion dancers at lunchtime,” says owner-chef Patsy Chan. “I cooked at the Hyatt Regency Maui for 11 years, and here I cook and season everything myself.”

From the official Chinese New Year date on Saturday through Feb. 4, Chan will present specials like jai, oxtail soup, roast duck, steamed whole onaga with ginger and onion sauce and stir-fried chicken with sugar-snap peas.”

For the jai, Chan incorporates fat choy, a Chinese black moss seaweed believed to make you a lot of money. “You have to put that inside for good luck,” she says. “And I also put lotus seeds and lotus root, red dates and the wood-ear mushrooms, water chestnuts, cabbage, won bok, long rice and tofu steak.”

Open for lunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Sushi chef Renanti Padilla rolls the Bomb, the Patsy Roll, the 007 and new roll Hawaii 5-0. Do come and try.

* Ah Fook’s, Kahului Shopping Center, 65 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului; 877-3308.

Want to make your own Chinese feast? Pick up all of the ingredients for vegetarian monk’s food, or jai, at Ah Fook’s, such as wood ear mushrooms, lily flowers, black moss, fresh bamboo and more.

The historic Maui grocery store is also the go-to place for meats, fresh vegetables, Year of the Rooster T-shirts, coin banks, Chinese candies, calendars, gau, moon cakes and more. See lion dancers at the shopping center starting at noon Saturday.

“Everybody come on down and celebrate the beginning of the New Lunar Year, have a good time, enjoy festivities,” said Raymond Hew, store president.

* Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, 2525 Kaanapali Parkway, Kaanapali; 661-0011; www.kbhmaui.com

Last but not least, the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, known as Hawaii’s most Hawaiian hotel, will flap its wings for its  Year of the Rooster brunch celebration from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5.

Feast on more than 50 items, from won tons and pot stickers to beef stir-fried with broccoli. Fill up on steamed mini manapua, Chinese roast duck, shrimp egg fu young and lemon chicken, among Chinese-themed offerings. There will also be an iced seafood bar, action stations, keiki station and desserts galore.

Enjoy fireworks and lion dancers from Au’s Shaolin Arts Society at 9 and 11 a.m., as well as live Hawaiian entertainment. Choose from Tiki Terrace, Courtyard or Kanahele Room seating.

Cost is $46.95 for adults, $22 for children 6 to 12 and free for children 5 and younger accompanied by a paying adult. Call KBH at 667-0124.