Part 2 of 2: Learning more about Chinese New Year in Chinatown


Tonight, we continue our tour of Chinatown and traditions for the Chinese New Year, which is Tuesday February 5, the first day of the Year of the boar or pig.

Last we left off, we were on Maunakea Street with Chu Lan Shubert-Kwok, quite the dynamo founder of the Chinatown Business and Community Association, for Kupuna Life.

“How are you? Bye Loretta,” Chu Lan Shubert-Kwok said.

“This is pig, big pig, this is small pig (laugh),” Linda Zhang, Owner of Guan Hua Company, Inc. said.

“See this one, they hang the fok with fish,” Chu Lan says.

“This is Chinese for good luck, this is health, this means money,” Linda Zhang says.

“The word fish is yi. Yi means plentiful, overflowing with good fortune and good luck,” says Chu Lan.

“Everybody Happy New Year. Kung Hee Fat Choy. Good health, good luck. Aloha,” Linda Zhang says.

Around the corner at Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant on King Street.

“This is called the 8 treasure plate for candies and preserved fruits. This is the lotus root. It has 8 holes, symbolizes the 8 paths to Buddhism and also 8 is a lucky number. Lotus seed is very important for symbolizing lots of children, lots of successful generation,” says Chu Lan.

Chu Lan is a wealth of energy, barely able to ask about her. But here’s what I got. She came to Hawaii 44 years ago. 

“I was born and raised in Singapore. The crazy rich Asian (laugh).”

She owns a mortgage real estate business in Chinatown and ten years ago started the Chinatown Business and Community Association. 

“There was no help and a lot of people were robbed and my office was broken into many times. Oh, this is a fabulous jai. On the first day of Chinese New Year they don’t eat anything killed, no meat, no blood. So, it has to be vegetarian to symbolize purity, a new beginning, respect for life. But second day of Chinese New Year you got to eat everything–fish, meat, pork is a big thing, and the chicken, duck. Everything you can afford you put on your table. So it symbolizes your family can afford to eat good food.”

“Then we have the stuffed duck. It’s cooked and steamed then deboned, and then the filling which consists of ginko nuts, barley, ham, chestnuts and dates,” Gary Lam, Manager, Golden Palace Seafood Restauarant said.

“They just came out with the biggest gin dui in Honolulu. They are the only one with the biggest gin dui,” Chu Lan says.

“First of all, it’s because of the shape. The roundness, it symbolizes unity, family. That’s why it’s one of the important dishes during new year,” says Gary Lam.

“Round is completeness, everything round is perfect,” Chu Lan says.

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