Restaurant: Seafood Village
Location: 684 W Garvey Ave. Monterey Park, CA 91754. (626) 289-0088
Date: September 15, 2013
Cuisine: Chiu Chow Chinese
Rating: quite tasty!
Chinese food is incredible regional, and we are blessed in SoCal with a lot of very specific resteraunts (mostly in the San Gabriel Valley). This time, my Hedonist group has head out for some Chiu Chow (also Chaozhou) which is a Southern Chinese style originating in Eastern Guangdong province. This is a fairly ingredient driven Chinese regional cuisine that often features seafood. It has a relationship to Cantonese and is often found in Singaporean cooking (as many Teochew people settled there).
Seafood Village is regarded as one of the best Chiu Chow places in California. It has the usual glamorous SGV exterior.
And interior. But hardly the PF Chang tourist crowd!
Starting off with a little champagne.
Peanuts are traditional on the table in China. I suppose that the allergic are just put out of their misery quickly.
1998 Château Monbousquet Blanc. 91 points. Straw, lemon grass, mineral nose; earthy, lemon grass, mineral palate; medium finish. A very pleasant white Bordeaux with mineral flavors.
A typical cold appetizer platter. In the center, jellyfish. Starting with the top and heading clockwise: roast duck, cuttlefish, pork gut, fried tofu (yummy), pork stomach, and pork knuckle.
In case you want to spice it up!
2008 Cold Heaven Viognier. 90 points.
And it’s worth noting this interesting feature of authentic Chinese restaurants. After you eat a lot of some dish, they will “replate” or “consolidate” it into a smaller dish to preserve premium table space.
2005 Wittmann Westhofener Morstein Riesling Trocken. This was a more or less dry riesling, and quite nice.
This is what most people come here for, the house special Chiu Chow Style Crab (Dungeness). This is basically battered crab, fried with chilies and lots of garlic. I’ve also heard this called “Causeway Style.” Good stuff with lots of flavor. You end up sucking out the meat mostly.
2012 Recuerdo Torrontés. 88 Points. A very floral light white made by Jose, one our very own Hedonists!
One of are party wasn’t into “weird stuff” and ordered themselves some orange chicken. Go figure. It was fine, but nothing special.
From my cellar, 1970 Gros Frère et Sœur Vosne-Romanée. 92 points. It was still very much alive and drinking quite beautifully. A veritable chameleon in the glass, the aromas kept changing every time I brought the glass to my nose. First sour cherries, then papaya, then raspberries, then red clay, then lemon rind, then caramel — it was intoxicating. The palate, on the other hand, was a bit simple and one-dimensional, but I thought the nose more than made up for it. A lovely wine! My favorite of the night — being a Burghound!
Special Turtle Soup. This is a very pleasant broth with lots of umani flavor.
And in case you wondered f it was authentic enough, check out the chicken foot!
2000 Araujo Estate Syrah Eisele Vineyard. IWC 89. Full ruby-red. Rich, smoky aromas of plum, blackberry, bitter chocolate, smoked meat, minerals, tobacco and licorice. Sweet, lush, chocolatey and seamless; a distinctly warm-climate syrah with exotic notes of roasted berries. But there’s also lovely lift from the blackberry and violet notes. Finishes firmly tannic, oaky and long, with notes of spice and bitter chocolate.
Chilies with ground pork. I’ve never seen Jalepenos per se in China, but they do have lots of peppers. Regardless, this was a fabulous dish as the pork was cooked in a great black bean sauce and the combination of the mild heat and the slightly sweet meat was wonderful.
2009 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave St. Joseph. IWC 93. Opaque ruby. Expansive, seductive aromas of blackberry and blueberry preserves, cherry pit and fresh flowers, plus a sexy incense note and a touch of licorice. Stains the palate with dark berry and spicecake flavors, with smoky minerality adding cut to the back end. Blends depth and vivacity smoothly, finishing with outstanding clarity and lingering sweetness.
Sautéed jellyfish heads with asparagus. Not bad — for jellyfish.
2011 Luisi Barbera d’Asti. 82 points. I didn’t try it, as I’m not much of a Barbera fan. Works occasionally with pizza.
Rock fish steamed with ginger and garlic. This was a lovely fish and the meat was perfectly done and very succulent.
2009 Orma Toscana IGT. IWC 92. Fully saturated ruby-purple. Sexy aromas of ripe dark plum, Asian spices, licorice and cocoa powder, with a floral quality adding lift and freshness. At once suave and penetrating, with very good energy and definition to the flavors of sweet red cherry, dark plum, mocha and fresh herbs. In a distinctly ripe style, but with a vibrant, long finish thanks to harmonious acidity. The sweet, broad tannins show a distinct chocolatey ripeness.
Duck with mushrooms. It’s hard to tell them apart (the duck has bones) as the heavy gravy gives it all a brown sheen. This dish might look a bit sketchy, but it tastes great with a rich heady earthiness to the sauce and a pleasant spongey texture to the woody mushrooms.
2011 Vigilance Petite Sirah. I didn’t try this either.
Special Chiu Chow Style “lettuce”. Evidently a classic. It head a bit of a porky taste so there must have been something in there with the veggies. Not bad.
2008 chin chin syrah. Another wine by Jose.
Beans, lotus root, and oxtail. Interesting mix of flavors and textures. The meat was fatty of course, but full of flavor.
Clearly someone had too much pork gut.
2007 Lillian Winery Syrah. IWC 94. Opaque purple. A kaleidoscopic bouquet evokes black raspberry, cola, incense and olive tapenade, with a sexy floral quality that gains power with aeration. Lush, palate-staining dark berry preserve flavors are complemented by exotic spice and violet pastille qualities and are lifted by zesty minerality. Gains weight with air but retains its energy, finishing spicy, smoky and with outstanding persistence. Readers should also seek out Maggie Harrison’s excellent Antica Terra pinot noirs from Oregon.
House Special Chiu Chow Style Pan Fried Noodles. There are also shrimp, pork, mushrooms, and sprouts in here.
This might not seem like the most sophisticated dish, but the sauce was really really good with the tender noodles. I used to get a similar dish as a kid and found not not only delicious, but deeply nostalgic.
This Vin Santo was a rather wonderful sticky of the passito/Sherry PX variety. Oddly, it’s from Greece (Santorini) — doesn’t matter, as it’s very good.
Taro with Ginko dessert. God only knows what the white stuff was. There were grapes and ginko nuts, blobs of taro, and a gelatinous mass that that was supposedly snow fungus. The net effect was sweet and vaguely chewy. I think it’s a Chiu Chow speciality.
Jose brought some (apparently) 19th century Madeira in this little flask. It was good. Caramelized, complex, and well… like good Maderia.
Almost mochi filled with red bean, mung bean, egg custard, and taro. Not as good as true ice cream mochi, but enjoyable the same.
Overall, an incredibly fun evening as usual. We even went next door afterward to overwhelm the minimall’s $15 an hour foot massage place, which is always great except that Yarom got screwed since we had one person more than they had masseuses. These Chinese outings are great fun with really interesting, tasty, and reasonable food.
The Seafood Village staff treated us great, bringing the dishes one at a time, and being extremely friendly and helpful — if occasionally confounded by our lack of Mandarin (or perhaps they spoke the Chiu Chow dialect, I wouldn’t know). Great fun.
We were also joined (see below) by Chef Kaz Oyama of the amazing Totoraku, who is now an honorary Hedonist, and he took it seriously by consuming his fair share of libations.
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