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New Year’s a family affair at Kowloon

Stanley Wong of Kowloon Restaurant in Saugus packages a take-out order on Friday. Wong said his restaurant is prepared for the heavy load of take-out orders for the holiday weekend. He has a system that has orders ready for customers at an exact pickup time. (Jim Wilson)

SAUGUS — Nothing beats watching the ball drop in Times Square from the comfort of your living room while eating Chinese food.

And the longstanding tradition of chowing down on egg rolls and crab rangoons as the year ends is not going away, restaurant owners say.

The last night of the year is also the busiest for the Kowloon, the landmark restaurant on Route 1.

“People started making reservations, some, over a month ago,” said state Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus), who owns the business with his family.

Kowloon was started by Wong’s grandparents in 1950 with seating for 24. It was then passed on to his parents in 1960 and later to Wong and his three brothers and two sisters. The building has been expanded four times and can now seat 1,200. All seats are expected to be filled Sunday night.

“We have to keep some seats open in the restaurant for people who walk in, so I think we can squeeze in a few more,” he said. “We have hired a lot of extra help. I’ll be working with my brothers and sisters. All the siblings will be there and my mother will be there and even the grandchildren should be there.”

Preparation begins days in advance with ordering in bulk, marinating large quantities of meat, and putting together bags of hats, horns, and confetti based on the number of people who made a reservation.

But the staff at Kowloon has it down to a science, said Wong.

“The volume we go through in one day will probably be equal to what we typically go through in a week,” said his brother Stanley Wong. “We get a lot of large orders.”

A large portion of the dining room in the take-out area will be closed and orders will be lined up in alphabetical order on rows of tables. Advanced orders have already been placed and are organized by pick-up time next to the kitchen.

The pu-pu platter remains the most popular menu item, said Stanley Wong. Also popular are the restaurant’s signature Saugus Wings, which are coated in a sweet, sticky, soy-based sauce and sprinkled with garlic.

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