Sunday, October 23, 2011

Newport Seafood - 10/02/2011

518 West Las Tunas Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 289-5998

It isn't often that a Chinese restaurant starts in Orange County and expands to the SGV so it stands to reason that Newport Seafood must be something special. Despite having moved to a larger space, the restaurant is perpetually packed and we had to wait about 40 minutes for one of the semi-private booths to open up.

Baked Shrimp with Salt and Pepper
The salt and pepper shrimp was provided in lieu of the baked crab which was apparently sold out. Though the flavor was enjoyable the shrimp was overcooked making the texture dry and rubbery; a poor substitution for the crab that we were expecting.

Crab Meat & Fish Maw Soup
Fish maw is a popular ingredient in high-end Chinese soups. The jelly like consistency and slight umami sapor of the swim bladder complimenting the crab's sweet salinity.

Beef Loc Lac (French Style)
This was probably the best course of the night and be best French-style beef that I've had. The dish isn't leaps and bounds above its peers, but the delectably tender texture and succulent contrast of the fresh tomatoes and onions do serve to set the dish apart. J Gold declares this the best in SGV and I find myself inclined to agree.

Newport Special Lobster
Without a doubt, the special lobster is the dish that put Newport Seafood on the map. My first time here, I was a bit underwhelmed as the lobster tasted under seasoned. Things were markedly better this time around, the snappy lobster offered a deep wok fired sapor heightened by a robust garlic and spice tinged sauce.

Yang Chow Fried Rice
Like the French-style beef, the fried rice exemplifies what sets Newport apart from its competitors. In most respects, the dish is similar to its counterpart at the innumerable other Chinese restaurants that dot the SGV, but when it comes down to the flavor and the subtle nuances this just feels more on point.

Sea Cucumber with Black Mushroom
In my family, the eldest relative always goes first when a new dish is brought to the table. Occasionally this means the kids are lift with scraps which happened to be the case here. I was able to taste the mixed vegetables that accompanied the sea cucumber but I hesitate to judge a dish without tasting the key ingredient. Though perhaps I should let the absence of sea cucumber speak for itself.

Steamed Whole Fish
A fairly textbook steamed fish, the mild white fish is completely dependent on the sauce for flavor. Ever since I was a little kid I was happy to forgo the fish in favor of eating a big bowl of rice bathed in the sauce.

Kong Pao Shrimp Chicken & Beef
I always feel a bit embarrassed having Kung Pao anything at a Chinese restaurant. Discomfort aside, there was something addictive about this dish and I noticed my cousins returning for more time and again.

Sauteed Broccoli
I was disappointed that my father opted for the broccoli, as the pea shoots were one of the highlights of my previous visit. The broccoli was fairly typical, with a monolithic bitterness, rather than the grassy levity of the shoots.

Clam with Spicy Hot Sauce
The clams were another of the night's stars, with an immensely satisfying contrast between the herbaceous basil and bitter salinity of the clams. After we polished off the clams, I was again compelled to get some rice and slather it with spoonfuls of the basil and chili gravy.

Peking Style Pork Chop
The pork chop itself was nicely cooked, with a light batter and moist interior, I never cared for sweet and sour dishes and the sticky saccharine sauce here didn't do anything to change that opinion.

These sliced oranges hardly merit being called a dessert but their sweet juice was a nice way to wash down the salt and oil from the meal.

My first visit time here was enjoyable but underwhelming; the lobster in particular didn't live up to the hype. The food felt a bit stronger this time around and I was able to see some flashes that help separate Newport from the pack.


Aaron said...

What kind of steamed fish was that? This is the first time I've seen beef loc lac at a Chinese restaurant. Was it actually like the Vietnamese dish or more like the common Chinese beef in XO sauce?

Epicuryan said...

It was some sort of flatfish, not sure what exactly. Newport incorporates influences particularly Thai and Vietnamese, but French style beef (法式牛柳) is also common in Cantonese food.

Charlie Fu said...

That's flounder I think. Vietnamese Chinese places love using that type of fish.

James said...

Where was the original OC location? There's so many restaurants named "Newport Seafood"...