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Chinese seafood for only 2 people?

  • i

Reading descriptions on this board of adventures in Chinese seafood and banquets have made me extremely covetous. But all those joyful posts seem to detail meals for groups of at least 4, and often more.... are there places where ordering for only two people makes sense? I guess I am asking for any picks where we can have a great time eating exiquisite Chinese seafood dishes (and some veggies) without going overboard on the family style. My range is anywhere from Santa Monica to the SGV, and probably the Valley too.

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  1. I don't see any problem in going to any of the restaurants. Yes, you won't be able to order a 4 pound lobster but there are plenty of other seafood choices.

    1. There should be no problem for two at any Chinese seafood restaurant. It's just that you'll be able to order fewer dishes and have more food to take home. Just beware: wedding banquets usually take place on Saturday or Sunday night, so it may be difficult to grab dinner at the more popular wedding banquet locations at those times.

      1. Pretty much any steamed fish dishes or shrimp by the pound will be OK for 2 people.

        We have 3 people and we still order the 3-4 pound lobster. Still good as leftovers. Plus I don't think they ever look at you strange for ordering a bit too much and taking the leftovers home.

        The one seafood item we didn't tackle are those gigantic 6+ pound crab. That's way too much...

        2 Replies
        1. re: notmartha

          My wife and I tackled an 8lb King Crab last night. It was awesome. The leftovers were great for lunch today.

          1. re: jkao1817

            Hats off to you then! We had 3 people (2 adults, 1 child), and tackled a 2.5 lb salt & pepper fried Dungeness crab. At the end of two pieces I have to throw in the towel.

        2. You're going to be hard-pressed to enjoy the full panoply of seafood offerings if it's just 2 people.

          I would suggest trying dim sum at one of the more upscale locales. You won't get to order any of the live seafood items (e.g. steamed fish, prawns, crab, etc.), but you'll definitely be able to sample a variety of seafood items.

          For example, at Sea Harbour in Rosemead I've had abalone, sea cucumber, squid, stir-fried giant clam, fish maw, etc.

          You could probably get a similar experience at Triumphal Palace, New Concept or the Kitchen.

          Enjoy and have fun.

          SEA HARBOUR
          3939 N. Rosemead Blvd.,

          1. Depending on the size of crab, you could also get one order of whole crab. I've done this on numerous occasions as part of a 2 person meal. My mom and I can pretty much polish of a 1 to 2 lb crab in a sitting, with a noodle dish on the side or something. Of course, you can also order more than enough to stock the fridge =)

            2 Replies
            1. re: S U

              Which type of crab? The only ones about that size that I've seen is the Dungeness Crab at SF (about 2.5 pounds).

              The crystal (whitish looking?) and king crab are like 6 pound monsters - I asked.

              1. re: notmartha

                definitely dungeness... and I prefer the garlic s&p prep (if leftovers, then the crispy bits end up on steamed rice or something at home).

            2. bah. thats why there are doggie bags. :D

              1. only two people is just that. The idea of more than three dishes is absurd with only two people unless you are buying food for leftovers as well.
                I'd say go to MPV seafood on Garfield in Alhambra (almost at valley). It's like an aquarium. Pick one live fish like a sheepshead or a grouper or someother fish. have it steamed and served either with ginger and scallions or with black bean sauce. Ask the server for the rec depending on the fish.

                order one vegetable dish with it. Steamed rice. You are only two people. you are done. OR if you aren't concerned about live fish - you can order live shrimp to order - cooked in the kitchen, simple with salt is best i think, and a pre-cut flounder or sole or other fish, or a scallop dish -live/fresh cooked scallops are the best, and one vegetable dish, steamed rice, done again.

                whole fish is usually banquet food rather than date night at a chinese seafood house.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Jerome

                  "whole fish is usually banquet food rather than date night at a chinese seafood house."


                  Really? I routinely get whole live fish (and other live seafood) items when dining out with the family, and see others do it all the time as well. Usually group of 4 or more.

                  But yes, typically banquet menus will often offer live steamed fish.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    four or more
                    not two
                    i guess a banquet is four or more and then we agree <g>

                    butfor four, wouldn't two whole live fish be too much? It's like ordering the pork shank/pump at a huaiyang restaurant. you have to have at least 6 people - otherwise there's too much and too much, in fact, of one thing.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      I order whole steamed fish in cantonese restaurants a lot. Most of them are around 1.5 lb range and with the heads and bones, are quite managerable for 2 people.

                      If the OP is wary of seeing fish head/tail, I will recommend a stir fried dish with sliced fish. That's managerable and still quite good.

                      I wouldn't order a lot of stuff that aren't good for leftovers. For instance, I don't think fried stuff are good next day generally, and neither are clams. But things like stir fried beef, chicken, veggies are quite OK reheated - assuming you will eat leftovers.

                      I deliberately order twice the amount needed in some restaurants so I can have more variety, and also I can get at least 2 days of leftovers for lunch. Even leftover reheated chinese food tastes better than the crap my local cafeteria served.

                      Lastly, I will modify the game plan above by substitute something like a meat dish that's stir fried with veggies. Then you can get a more well rounded meal.

                      1. re: notmartha

                        If having the head or tail are objectionable, one can always ask the kitchen to remove them. It'll take them about five seconds to do that.

                        1. re: raytamsgv

                          Good thought, but bad luck for chinese. ;)

                  2. Hop Li in West La you can dine for 2, though the more the merrier I think (more dishes to share).

                    1. How about a lobster and fish for less than $20???

                      Go to May Flower in LA Chinatown and you can get their House Special Lobster for $12.99. One pound lobster stir fried with chili, onions and garlic. They have a fried flounder for like $3.99 which everyone orders. Also order a vegetable and your out of there for less than $25 including tax and tip.

                      I see two people eating that combination all the time.

                      May Flower Restaurant 679 1/2 or 685 N Spring St, Los Angeles, 90012 (213) 625-0588 Open 10am-2am 7 days/week

                      1. Steamed Live Shrimp or butterflied over glass noodles (if you need starch)
                        Abalone, usually comes with a spot of vegetables.
                        Fried Manila Clams
                        Steamed Fish
                        Geoduck Sashimi
                        Fried Crab/Lobster

                        Pick any 4 of the above, won't be too heavy for two. It's really quite manageable.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Sgee

                          You've got to be joking.

                          Last time I checked, the geoduck comes in at least 3 lbs, and lobsters are between 3-4 lbs.

                          Live abalone is like $75? Plus it's an acquired taste, so I wouldn't recommend for those who just try cantonese seafood for the first time.

                          The only ones that are consumable by 2 people at one seating are the shrimp, clams, fish, and maybe the crab (as long as it's small).

                          1. re: notmartha

                            to be fair. i went to mpv seafood with a friend and we ordered up geoduck sashimi. yep, it is >3 lbs but the sashimi is quite manageable and the non-sashimi quality portions were turned into soup....which i might add, was simply delicious.

                            we also had a fish and meat dish that evening and finished 85-90% of the food.

                            1. re: wilafur

                              Must have quite an appetite! Don't know that they serve geoduck in soup. Usually we had them stir fried. I guess they must quickly poached it, or it will probably start to resemble rubber bands.

                              1. re: notmartha

                                Most geoduck (or giant clams) are eaten in hot pots or stews. If not, then raw as sashimi.

                                But, you're right. Stir-frying them really brings out their natural earthy-sweetness, esp. if done properly with high-heat in a well seasoned wok (and a couple quick flips of the wrist).

                                1. re: notmartha

                                  yep, i can eat. =)

                                  stir frying geoduck is definitely delicious. however, it was a cold evening and soup sounded so good.

                              2. re: notmartha

                                I can usually find a lobster under 2 lbs.

                                1. re: notmartha

                                  Done it before myself, you can always insist on smaller sized lobsters or crabs or geoduck. Most of what you're paying for is the shell anyway. Each time I've gone with my wife, the restaurants have been very accomodative in ensuring that portions are as manageable as possible.

                                  Additionally hardly consider the taste of abalone unique, unless you're not fond of shellfish.

                                  The poster did ask for 'exquisite'. Exquisite and cheap tend not to go hand in hand.