Dining with the amazing Rozita Villanueva Lee and her doctor husband,
Clifford Lee, in the Imperial Palace's charming Seahouse, we are
mesmerized by her versatility and dynamic zest for life. She has
presented us with a fragrant necklace of fresh Arabian jasmines, pikake
- a traditional wedding flower, which she grows. "They grow profusely in
Hawaii," she says. She loves gardening. She also thrives on producing
and emceeing "Drums of the Island," the authentic Polynesian revue in
which she sings, dances, teaches the hula and introduces the specialty
acts twice weekly in the resort's pool area. These are only a few of her
talents and interests.
It all began for Rozita in the seaside port town of Lahaina, Maui.
Talking about the story of her life, it is fitting that we are in a
restaurant where the decor is reminiscent of a whaling town back East,
somewhere on the shores of New England, perhaps a summer home in Bar
Harbor, Maine, with its clapboard house look and faux windows with
shutters, and ship's memorabilia. We're enjoying our sublime appetizers,
oysters Rockefeller ($8.50) and Imperial crab cakes with remoulade sauce
Rozita's family moved to Honolulu in 1943 when she was nine.
At Roosevelt High School, where the Lees will attend her 50th reunion in
September, she was student body president. From there, she went to the
University of Hawaii Teachers' College, where she was a class senator.
"I was determined to be a teacher, but (in 1954) I got married and had
three children, two boys and a girl."
"From the surf" and "from the turf" entrees, preceded by clam chowder
(Cliff's choice) or a salad of mixed greens (for Rozita and us with
raspberry vinaigrette), are served with vegetables and rice or a baked
potato. Conversation was only a little less animated as we devoured our
delicious selections, shrimp scampi ($18.95) over pasta for Rozita and
with a jumbo potato topped with sour cream and chives for Cliff, sea
bass Veracruz poached with bell peppers, tomato, onion and white wine
($15.50) and salmon Oscar topped with asparagus, shelled crab legs and
hollandaise ($15.95), both accompanied by rice, for us.
In 1989, then-Governor Bob Miller personally offered Rozita the position
of special assistant, to manage his Las Vegas office. In 1995, she was
named to the Nevada Clark County Asian American Commission, receiving
numerous awards and certificates of appreciation from many
Her "spirit of aloha" fills the air when Hawaiian Hot Luau!
"Imperial-style" heats up the Imperial Palace's 700-seat Shangri-la pool
deck every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 pm. through October 24 (weather
The hour is late and it's time for our Seahouse desserts. Our server
presents the tray with an array of gorgeous temptations ($3.95 each).
The Seahouse is open Friday through Monday from 5 to 11 pm. Call
731-3311. For reservations to Hawaiian Hot Luau! call 794-3261.
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