888 Seafood (Short Report)
Went last night with 3 friends and had a great evening. The giant room was divided into 3 spaces, with a wedding at one end, a 25th anniversary on the other and paying customers like us in a middle section. The wedding party was in full swing, with competing karoake versions of La Vida Loca being crooned under the duress of copious amounts of alcohol; the anniversary party was more tame and heartfelt as the guests sang German leider to great applause. All in all it was a damn festive atmosphere.
We brought some Alsatian Gewurztraminer and were greeted upon arrival with great care by someone who seemed to be the manager, Larry. He immediately asked if he could put our second bottle in the refrigerator and proceeded to open the other. It was only when we opened the menu, and attendant wine list that we saw their own excellent selection, which believe it or not includes first growth Bordeaux. When Larry returned we apologized for bringing our own wine and explained we didnt know that had such a list and he made us feel totally at ease. Our waiter, who was equally as nice as the Larry helped us order, and 5 minutes later all of our food arrived: deep-fried crab balls; crab and white asparagus soup; salt and pepper shrimp (with skin on); scallops with yellow leeks; and, Peking Duck prepared two way. Everything was superb. The crab dishes really stood out. The soup was so warming and nourishing, with succulent crab and abundant pieces of tender asparagus in a thick broth that was neither too sweet nor too salty. The crab balls too were delicious. A potato skin wrapped around a lump of meat and then, obviously, fried. With a tangy dipping sauce, they quickly disappeared. The shrimp were notable for their utter freshness and the relish, which was chopped red and green peppers and diced scallions a fiery and pungent and flavorful dish. The duck. The duck was showstopper. The buns were really as light as air. Hoisin was brushed on with the cut end of a scallion and a crispy skinned piece of duck meat placed in the middle. Sealing the flavor missile, it was then delivered to ravenous mouth. After this feasting, and a conversation with Larry, we finished with some mango pudding and then were delivered another nice surprise: the bill, which was $78. A veritable feast for less than $20 a head, with as much music as you wanted, often two songs at the same time. Im eager to return for dim sum.
I have to disagree. In my opinion, this is the most overrated chinese restaurant in the SG valley. Bland turtle soup with hardly a morsel of meat, a cold cut appetizer plate with a cloying sweet orange sauce and canned vegetables including white asparagus with that undeniablel ingering canned food aftertaste and mushiness to add even more insult to injury. Actually the one time I was there, everything came varied from flat to downright inedible. A boring squid stir fry, a bland steamed fish, etc... There were a few other dishes that I can't and really don't even care to recall. The only pleasent thing feature of the place was the friendly waitress. All in all, I have no clue why anyone would dine here unless they are absolutely clueless, when there are so many far superior chinese restaurants within the vicinity.
I went a while back. Unlike the Liver gentleman, I like this place just fine. They have a fine (for me) black bone chicken soup with medicinal herbs that they cook for hours and hours. And they have seasonal menu inserts that are quite good. I had a wonderful dish of pigeon (squab) breasts with asparagus when I was there last.
But not crazy about the dimsum lunch there - wasn't really worth the drive. Dinner was a different story for me.
Just another opinion.