Macau Street in monterey park
is it that good?
sounds interesting and accessible?
are the fried crabs really that good?
and does anyone know if the crab are cooked in lard or other oil, given that i don't speak cantonese, or mandarin, etc. i sometimes have communications problems.
and how are the duck tongues, and squab dishes?
when they say ried crab, they are REALLY fried. like so deep fried u could easily crack the shell with ur teeth and might mistakenly eat it too (or are u supposed to?). we couldn't eat too much of it though. if I want crab I'll stick with newport seafood or just get some from the chinese markets and steam them on my own. the egg tarts were however AMAZING and the best Ive ever had. so fresh, so buttery, so freakin' good!!!
Okay maybe I went at the wrong time. When if first opened my friends and I waited almost 1.5 hours for a table (around 7pm). Service was horrible, we had to ask them to bring the rice/soup/water numerous times, they kept forgetting. The dishes at $10 were pricey because the portions were so small. The crab dish was tiny and there was hardly any meat. The only good thing were the egg tarts which were fresh and quite tasty. I have not been there since, didn't think it was worth it. The friend who invited us felt so bad, he paid for the whole dinner..6 ppl = a little over $100.
Had an assignment in Monterey Park today, and found it "convenient" to be there elevenish, chortle chortle...and it was SO close to Macau Street. Fancy that.
Okay, so lunch is cheaper - lots of under-$6 specials, including some very interesting-looking curry dishes. However, I've been on a sort of mission to check out as many variations on the pork & greens theme as I can find; as indicated above I've already had one version here, but I saw Chinese Broccoli with Pork for $5.95 on the lunch menu and went for that. Pork was cut into strips about 1"x 2", about as thick as very thick bacon, meltingly tender and slightly sweet, with just a whiff of star anise in there somewhere. The greens were cut to exactly the right length for chopstick eating, bright green and crunchy-tender with a nice clear flavor, and bathed in that rich-tasting brothy sauce that Chinese cooks can probably do in their sleep. Straw mushrooms, a few decorative strips of carrot and some slivers of ginger filled in the gaps. The rice smelled a bit Jasmine-y and was, again, perfectly cooked for this chopstick amateur. A one-shot carafe of tea was nice to sip before and after, though charging a dollar for 8 oz. of hot water and a cheap teabag strikes me as the same thing as charging for bread - I figured I'd at least get a small pot. The food OTOH was a very generous portion, and I was sure at the beginning that I'd be packing half of it home, but it just kept disappearing...right down to the last scrap of mushroom I couldn't quite pick up.
I could have done very well without the unavoidable TV (Super Bowl run-up, all muted) and the annoying music, mostly Canto-pop, and though the service was friendly enough I thought I was going to have to tackle someone to get my bill. But that was just over ten bucks, including an approximate 20% tip, and hey - I'm ready to go back to Monterey Park just any old time.
We finally got over there tonight, and followed Mr. Gold's advice mostly, getting the House Special Crab and the Pig Neck. They were all out of the Ong Choy, dammit - that's what I really wanted, and it's the least expensive veg on the menu. Mrs O has this thing for snow pea greens, ever since we got'em at Chung King; the main difference between these and the others were that Macau Street's were damn near ten bucks - more than either the crab OR the pork! - but they were incredibly good instead of just very good. The aforementioned, plus two chrysanthemum teas (cold and prepackaged), an order of those addictive Small Cookies, and the obligatory steamed rice, came to almost forty dollars, to which of course we added our customary what-the-hell-take-my-left-nut-too tip.
Was it worth it? Well, to put it bluntly, yes. The crab was a spicy, somewhat overcooked but delightful mess, and the pig meat was just what the greens needed to be eaten with, although I REALLY wish they'd had the ong choy. My biggest gripe about the whole thing is that I cannot make my body fit their furniture; being an average-proportioned 6' even, with my hip sockets exactly halfway up my body, I banged my knees on the table and sat about 6" too low and a good foot too far away. But I'll still happily go back.
To me, Macau Street is really a HK-Cafe style restaurant with a dash of some Macanese dishes, but the cooking style and presentation are decidedly HK/Cantonese style.
Chicken knees are interesting, to read on a menu if nothing else. Don't taste all that fabulous though, sort of like chicken yakitori but with lots more tendon -- think sinewy chicken McNuggets. If that appeals to you, give them a try and give a shout out to McDonald's while you're at it (LOL).
People rave about the fried crispy shrimp and the fried crab, but to me they're simply slick ways to dress-up less than sub-par seafood items.
The roasted pig neck (again, a curious read on a menu) appears on a plate and resembles thick-cut slices of proscuitto. Tastes very sweet.
If you go, maybe try some of the more exotic sounding dishes like duck chin or goose intestine or beef stomach -- things I've never had the gumption (nor the curiosity) to try -- and report back.
Service is always friendly and the late hours make for a nice hideout to quell late night munchies, esp. if you're keeping a friend company at the hospital up the street.