Restaurant: Top Island Seafood
Location: The Marketplace, 740 Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801. (626) 300-9898
Date: December 29, 2016 & July 17, 2017
Cuisine: Cantonese Chinese
Rating: Good — and great value — Cantonese
The San Gabriel Valley is just oozing with new Chinese Restaurants to try.
And no category is more crowded than the Cantonese Banquet House. Top Island fits right in the middle of this pack, offering up all the luxury ingredients in a big format at reasonable prices. Look at that sign on the left, lobster for $8.99!
2006 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir Hyde Vineyard. VM 89. Dark red. Subdued, brooding aromas of dark cherry and chocolate. Fresher red and dark berry flavors are brightened by zesty minerals and given grip by dusty tannins. Finishes with very good persistence but limited definition. A serious, deeply concentrated style of pinot that needs some cellar time to loosen up.
2013 Boundary Breaks Vineyard Riesling No. 198 Reserve. VM 90. Quite reduced on the nose, with slightly shy aromas of Asian pear, white pepper, champagne mango and chamomile. The palate is quite honeyed and coats the cheeks and tongue in a soft layer of sweet fruit. A strong acidity keeps the palate in motion and prevents the wine from feeling fat. 58 grams per liter of residual sugar.
From my cellar: 2006 Henri Boillot Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. VM 93. Ripe peach, orange and hazelnut on the nose; a real essence of Charmes. Then opulent, sweet and rich but with very good inner-mouth tension to the ripe peach flavor. A seamless, highly concentrated wine with a wonderfully silky texture and a very long, fruit-driven finish. This fruit was harvested early, noted Boillot.
Seb brought: 2005 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex. 92+. There is no doubting this is Sauvignon blanc – it has that straight out green grass, a bit of lime, definitely very crisp although not tart. When NZ makes SB, this is what they are going for I think. Very well done version of that style.
Lobster noodles. A solid lobster dish. Maybe a touch “fishy” and while the noodles looked gross, they tasted great with the drippings.
2012 Giesen Pinot Noir The Brothers. VM 90. Bright medium red. Perfumed aromas of strawberry, rose petal and spices. Juicy and intense, offering very good concentration to its brambly red berry and cherry flavors. Finishes with firm but smooth tannins and very good tactile persistence.
Curried Meat. Can’t remember which meat, maybe beef or mutton. Pretty delicious though.
Fried pork chop. I didn’t love the oily taste.
Seb brought: 2010 Marcassin Pinot Noir Blue-Slide Ridge Vineyard. 95 points. In a great place. A showy wine highlighting ripe red fragrant fruits with a sweet edgy appeal. Quite pretty for a large scale pinot as slightly faded sour cherry fruits are well integrated with bright acidity and baking spice. Finishes really lasts. Quality stuff.
Chopped pork and string beans. Classic dish. Excellent verison with crunchy beans and lots of pork.
Chinese greens. tasty (surprisingly).
2015 Château Doisy-Daëne Grand Vin Sec. 93 points. Tasted like Durian! Very dry and very interesting.
Yin yang fried rice. Fried rice is underneath and covered with pork and shrimp sauces. Delicious!
2002 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate. VM 93. Good deep ruby-red. Highly aromatic nose combines musky redcurrant and tobacco. Plush, broad and fine-grained; atypically sexy and showy for this wine, in much the same way that Montelena’s basic 2002 Napa cabernet is unusually pliant and rich. Finishes with big, dusty, but rather suave tannins. This offers early accessibility but has the material and structure for extended aging. The alcohol here is 14.3%, the highest since the 1978, which was 14.4%.
Adam brought: 2004 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 98. Another rating identical to that which was given in 2007 (when first tasted from bottle), the 2004 Harlan Estate is performing essentially the way I suggested in 2007 as it is one of the more precocious and accessible of the Harlan Estate wines to date. A great showing at this retrospective, this wine, which seems like a hypothetical blend of a Pauillac, St.-Estephe and Graves, represents around 1,500 cases from 40 acres of beautifully manicured hillside vineyards overlooking Oakville. Still dense purple to the rim, with notes of creme de cassis, charcoal, blackberry and sweet toast, the wine is full-bodied and voluptuously textured with the tannins largely resolved. But the density and richness suggest this wine can go a long, long way, even though the window for drinking it seems open and inviting already. A world-class, first-growth wine if there ever was one from Napa, this is simply an exquisite Harlan Estate that has atypically reached mid to late adolescence at the age of ten. That is great given the fact that these are 30- to 40-year wines – possibly even half-century wines. Drink it over the next 30 years.
Steamed fish with ginger and soy. Too plain for my taste.
I brought some pistachio gelato from home (which I made).
Overall, a great time and really solid meal. Top Island isn’t in the league with Elite or such for high end Cantonese, but this whole feast was $35 a person with tax and tip! So considering with had Peking Duck, Lobster etc and it was all very tasty this was a steal. All the dishes were enjoyable and they have a huge menu. Plus, as Yarom says, “they treated us like Pharaohs.” I.e. we had great service as they were very warm and brought out all the dishes “slowly” (by Chinese standards). Too bad they don’t have this sort of quality on the Westside!
And a bunch of wines from the second night: