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Jun 24, 2009 04:13 PM

Newport Seafood, revised and revisited

This is the hypercrowded lobster joint that used to be crammed into the southwest end of that wallbound strip mall where Golden Deli lives. For I think about a year they've occupied new and much more spacious digs (and with their very own parking lot!) across the street and a block or two east from there. We'd been meaning to go but kept fumbling it, until last night we got together with Mrs. O's brother and his wife and by golly did it. Arrived sevenish just as two cars departed from the first row - an excellent omen! Walked in and were immediately seated at a big comfy table in the left back corner, quickly brought menus and tea, and in all were made to feel right at home. Or would if our home had an elementary school in the living room; My, we said, this is a popular FAMILY spot, eh? But none of them was running around or fighting, so we turned down the hearing aids and addressed the menus.

Of course we had to order the "French-style" beef, if only to amuse the Frenchwoman among us, but mostly because Mrs. O and I love it and the others had never had it. The sautéed pea sprouts were another must-have. Mr. T thought the crisp-fried squid looked like a very good idea, and since Mme T's English doesn't yet encompass the Asian-menu variety we had a general discussion and decided on a sizzling seafood platter. She did spot the words "French beer" at the bottom of the drinks list, and after we'd asked about that wound up with three half-liter bottles of Fischer, from Alsace, which was very good if oddly mellow.

The food appeared immediately as it was prepared, the seafood platter and some rice first. This had a good mixture of shrimp, squid rings, scallop slices and baby octopots along with big succulent mushrooms, snow peas and perfectly-cooked sweet slices of onion in a tasty sauce. The beef was next up, and it was of course as tender as we remembered, but it seemed to lack a depth of flavor it used to have, and instead of the thick mat of finely-cut lettuce leaves that used to absorb the sauce and make such a tasty end to the dish, there were just a few whole leaves. Don't know if it's the burden of making so many plates of that very popular dish, or the fact that the price hasn't changed in the last six years or so, but it was still good anyway.

The pea sprouts were a lovely bright green, in a sauce that was almost buttery, and strewn with finely-chopped garlic, Delicious! And the fried squid was a big pile of lightly battered and deep-fried chunks and morsels, with the occasional little baby one to be dug out of the pile and enjoyed for its more complex texture. This was one dish that did not fare so well when it cooled off, losing most of its crunch and some flavor, but while it was hot it was delightful.

The meal ended with a plate piled high with sweet, juicy orange wedges, and a bill for $67.58. Given that we'd had exactly the perfect amount of excellent food and three big beers (which we split generously four ways), we were happy to round out the tip and call it $20 apiece. We will certainly be back, probably with the Posse, and definitely with a camera.

Newport Seafood
835 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776-1073
(626) 289-5998

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  1. Next time you go, save room for dessert at Phoenix right down the street.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Agree. All kinds of tempting things, but the very best, especially as the weather heats up, is their mixed-fruit shaved ice.

      Good review! I like the one in Santa Ana (the one at 4411 W 1st, not the impostor).

    2. Great review. Newport Seafood is one of my favorite restaurants. Never tried the squid here, now I'm curious.

      How did the french lady like the French-style beef?

      4 Replies
      1. re: SmokeyDoke

        She ate her share, though meat with sweet sauce is emphatically not French style at all (I think the name refers only to the fact it's made with chunks of filet mignon). Her husband and I ate most of it.

        I mentioned at some point that I'd love to come back with bags of money and get a lobster, and there seemed to be agreement on that.

        1. re: Will Owen

          Funny that I do not recall dining with you that night, Mr. Owen! ;)

          Can I assume that the "French style beef" was, in fact, beef loc lac? This would make sense, since my Lovely Tasting Assistantâ„¢ and I first discovered the stuff during our 3 weeks in the former French colony of Cambodia, where it was a blessing unto our stomachs. (Cambodia was many things, but a bastion of filling foodstuffs it was not.)

          We never had loc lac during our 4 weeks in Vietnam, nor did we ever see it on a VN menu. In fact, until I came back home and started seeing postings on CH, I thought loc lac was strictly a Cambodian dish. But of course, it would all make sense considering the French colonial history of that country as well.

          I believe we will be heading to Newport Seafood for dinner next weekend with a party of about 6-8. The menu on their website is down. Any additional recs aside from the lobster and "French style beef"?

          Mr Taster

          Newport Seafood Restaurant
          4411 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

          1. re: Mr Taster

            we had the fish, head fried, sweet and sour, then the body steamed. I wish I can recall which fish it was, but it was seasonal priced.

            1. re: Mr Taster

              I ate there in February with nephew & Taiwanese wife who drove up from Irvine. We had a superb clams on the half-shell strewn with major anise overtones, then on to a seafood soup which was majorly full of seafood and a very tasty broth.
              Then tried the kung pao chicken which was much better than you might think, as well as chinese broccoli and a whole steamed fish, both also excellent. Love chinese preparation of veggies!
              Dinner alone was $48 for the 3 of us plus a bottle of zinfandel and the total rounded out to $100 including tax & tip.
              Great restaurant, can't wait to return.
              Comment - be prepared to wait. We got the last table in the place at 6pm, and this place is a former Marie Callendar, so you get the picture of its size.

        2. has anyone tried the crab here and compared it to the house crab at seafood village? I'm still not sure I understand frying something with a hard shell but willing to try it...

          3 Replies
          1. re: 1newyorkguy

            Get the crab at Seafood Village and the lobster at Newport Seafood. Both sell the "opposite" but there's a reason they're known for crab at SV and lobster at NPSF.

              1. re: raytamsgv

                Whatever dish you get (lobster or crab) at whatever restaurant (Newport or Seafood Village), save the leftovers, esp. the bits and pieces of the garilc, scallions, etc.

                I mean really really save those leftovers -- like wipe the plate clean -- grease and all. If there was such a thing as deglazing with hot tea, I would recommend doing so ...

                All of that sutff makes for great fried rice the next day, heck or even later than night when you break out the mai jong table ...

              1. re: carter

                Ha! Not exactly Marlon Byrd, but OK.

            1. i've only been during lunch...and definitely cheap and their fish/clam with basil and fact i did two reviews for Newport (on my blog and for the Examiner)...I couldn't help myself...I had to keep coming back...I will try the french-style beef and squid next time ;)