mmm-yoso!!! is Kirk's foodblog. Nice guy that he is, he lets some others like Cathy, Vicky, and even ed (from Yuma) post here sometimes. Today we magically go back to last summer when ed and Tina finish their culinary roadtrip with a stop in San Gabriel Valley.
Before leaving Monterey, Tina and I had begun the day with some pastries and lattes at Patisserie Parker-Lusseau by the post office, so by the time we rolled into the San Gabriel Valley more than five hours later we were hungry. Really hungry.
After locating a reasonable room for the evening, we headed out for an evening of Chiu Chow dining at the Seafood Village location in Temple City. This location (the original is in Rowland Heights) is larger, has more parking, is less crowded, and well, it was closer to our room. And did I mention we were Hungry?:
We parked in the giant lot behind the restaurant and entered the restaurant by its back entrance. At this time, slightly before 6 p.m., we were one of the few groups of customers in the spacious main dining room:
While we were looking over the menu, a small bowl of boiled peanuts accompanied by mildly pickled vegetables were placed on the table. Although not mind-blowing, these helped keep our hunger in check until real food started arriving:
That evening we had brought our own wine, a bottle of 2007 Roussane from Tablas Creek Winery (which had ridden down to SGV in an ice chest in my car). Tablas Creek is my favorite winery in the Paso Robles area, and to my palate at least, this bottle was the tastiest white wine I had encountered on my trip:
The restaurant charged a modest five dollar corkage fee and provided the stemware.
The seasonal vegetable that evening was pea greens ($12.99). They were wonderfully fresh and perfectly prepared. There was none of the toughness or stringiness that sometimes ruins this dish:
We also ordered baked oysters with XO sauce ($10.99). It arrived with eight breaded oysters on top of slices of a somewhat crunchy stirfried vegetable:
My first oyster was slightly disappointing because I was expecting more crunch from the breading -- having already forgotten that the oysters were "baked." However, the more of this dish that I ate, the more I liked it. This preparation really focused on the taste of the shellfish. And the oysters were perfectly cooked, moist and full of wonderful funky oyster flavor.
The crunch in the dish was instead a product of the accompanying veggie. At first, I was puzzled by that crunchy vegetable as it seemed to resemble no vegetable that I had ever had in a stirfry, and yet it was very tasty. "What's this vegetable?" I asked Tina.
As soon as she said that it tasted like cucumber, I realized she was right and remembered that Kirk had recently posted a stirfried cucumber recipe. I felt only slightly embarrassed that I had missed the identification of such a common vegetable.
Our main dish that evening was the house special crab ($4.99 a pound -- $14.97 total):
When reading about this restaurant at various places on the Internet, everyone said that this was the signature dish at the place. Still, at first it seemed odd to be eating crab that had been breaded and deep-fried in its shell . "Why bread shell?" I wondered.
As soon as we started eating the crab, any puzzlement I felt completely disappeared. This was really good crab (and the breading was pretty tasty as well). Flavors of garlic and mild chilies were predominant. The breading was good enough that I sucked some of it off of crab shell. The greatest part of the dish, however, was the succulent, moist, tender, and flavorful crab inside the shell:
And I realized then that the breading serves to keep the hot oil away from the crab meat, which was not greasy at all. This was so good it will be hard to drive through the San Gabriel Valley in the future without stopping in and eating it again.
Overall, Tina and I were delighted and impressed. We had tasted seafood and vegetables different than anything we can get back home. The wine proved to be an excellent match with the cuisine, having enough body and structure to stand up to the flavorful preparations. The service was not as superb as at Sea Harbour, but it was more than adequate, and our total for the evening was $50, not including tip, about half of what we had paid at Sea Harbour. Thanks, Kirk, for the recommendation -- it was spot on!
Seafood Village, 9669 Las Tunas, Temple City, CA, 626-286-2299