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ABC Seafood - St. Pete

  • k

Anxiously waiting for a report on the October 4 Chowhound get-together.

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  1. It was very good. We had a lot of fun and there are pics. Not sure when Andy is writing it up. I learned that I like jellyfish ;-P

    1. Here are some of the delicious quail we had. Photo courtesy of MildBill

      1. And here is a picture of all the attendees.

        2 Replies
        1. re: RibDog

          I just want to thank everyone who came to the gathering. I had a great time.

          I think the bottom line is that each of the three restaurants we ate had some items that they were the best at. And other items that were good but not stellar.

          1. re: RibDog

            We'll be happy to come over to your side of the bridge any time. St Pete is fortunate to have such a great Chinese restaurant.
            I also would like to compliment the wonderful service we received. Our hostess and servers were fantastic. Patient, informative, and very gracious.

        2. Aw, come on, guys! details, details! so sorry i missed it. i'm still going strong on my new diet. count me in next time for sure. love the pics...can someone post who's who? and did they have geoduck??

          7 Replies
          1. re: Manderley

            I am the girl on the left and my husband is to the left of me in the pic. I'll leave it up to the others to identify themselves ;-)
            Andy should have his article up today on the WP website.

            1. re: rhnault

              I'm frikkin' 'Cubby Bear' in the front...

              ----running like the wind to Walgreens for 7 boxes of Just For Men, and a case of Magnesium Citrate...

              1. re: rhnault

                rhnault, that's you with the long dark rapunzel locks? and your hubby's in the light blue, wow he looks just like my brother. nice knowing what you guys look like :)

                1. re: Manderley

                  My husband is in the burgundy shirt. I am Rapunzel lol. I don't have many years left getting away with the the long hair ;-)

                  1. re: rhnault

                    oh duh, thought you said he was on your left, not on your left in the pic! :)

                    1. re: Manderley

                      I confused myself with that post lol

            2. If all 3 restaurants are good at certain dishes....what were the standout items from ABC seafood. I would like to concentrate on the bests items at ABC.....thanks

              2 Replies
              1. re: rothdan

                Yeah do tell, we actually drove out to this place last night from Tampa to eat and I guess Tuesday is the one day they're closed. What were the crowd favorites at ABC?

                1. re: askdrtodd

                  their salt & pepper oysters are to die for!!! also love the salt & pepper squid. i usually go for something in the tank, love the eel in XO sauce. their ginger scallion sauce is also very good.

              2. you can find the photos as well, but i am not allowed to link.

                Before the dust had cleared from the first Chinese restaurant throwdown at Yummy House and China Yuan, the Chowhound committee wondered where to meet next. One of us suggested an investigation into ABC Seafood Restaurant.

                When we visited the restaurant on a recent Sunday, our food-obsessed group had expanded to nine people who all met online. At ABC, the conversation about restaurants, cooking and feasting soon buzzed around the table as we reached a quorum. We ordered by committee, creating a tasting menu that allowed us to boldly explore the menu and indulge everyone’s cravings. Some of us have strange food cravings, making for a dining experience that demands an adventurous spirit.

                While jellyfish and beef tendon ($7.95) may scare some people, it is no more strange to eat than, say, sushi, and probably much safer than American hamburger. Sesame oil and seeds perfumed the cool jellyfish beside thin slices of roast beef. The dish is surprisingly refreshing and light.

                Fried salt and pepper calamari ($9.95) arrived on a bed of shredded radish and carrot, then topped with stir fried scallion, onions, and garlic. Crisp with a light chew, the rings of squid did not disappoint. (Still, Yummy House is probably the master of salt and pepper anything. Their tofu is wildly popular).

                The fried quail special ($9.95?) was excellent, burnished brown and plated with more shredded radish and fried scallions and garlic.

                One of us has a passion for pork intestines, so we ordered fried chitterlings ($9.95). If you never ate pig intestine, it was about what you would expect: fatty, soft, and chewy. They were not without savor, but I wouldn’t recommend them. (At China Yuan, they were wonderfully crispy and chewy with a hint of bacon flavor and served with mustard greens. It was a revelation for most of us. Those I would recommend to anyone). The steamed dumplings ($4.95) were tasty but didn’t shine (Once again, China Yuan’s are much better).

                In an adventurous mood, we tried a large bowl of the soup special: black chicken with herbs. Black-skinned chickens are known as Silkies for their smooth feathers, but would look strange to most Americans. The black chicken soup was rather strange, too. Perhaps it is telling that in China, the soup is served for medicinal purposes. The dark broth was slightly gamy, flavored with little else but plum and a whole chicken. As in a whole gutted chicken. As the server stirred the large bowl, we could see the feet and head emerge, then he folded them under the surface again until the carcass completely fell apart. I tried to get a picture of that poor chicken’s head, but it had disintegrated. The server then ladled the concoction into our bowls with the poultry and skin, leaving the bones behind. I tried without luck to find the beak among the scraps. The soup wasn’t revolting, but it lacked seasoning, especially salt or soy, and wasn’t a favorite of our visit.

                ABC’s strength is in seafood, which lazes around in aquariums awaiting your order. Peking style shrimp with crispy milk balls ($13.95) proved the point, glazed with sweet sauce and cooked perfectly. The fried milk balls were a further indulgence — think deep fried custard.

                The chicken with mushroom and Chinese sausage ($9.95?) came stir fried with a dark, rich sauce, tender bird, and sweet Chinese sausage. Not everyone loved the dish, but it was one of my favorites. It wouldn’t scare squeamish diners with its familiar mixture of carrots, snow peas, scallions and mushrooms, and I’m a sucker for that dark sauce. A heap of seafood fried rice with XO sauce ($10.95) was competent, but under-seasoned and a little boring.

                Our most pleasant surprise of the meal was the braised e-mein with crab ($13.95). I’ve always been a Chinese noodle fanatic, and chow fun was my favorite until I ate ABC’s e-mein noodles, which is similar to lo mein, but more delicate and elastic, flavored by braising in the wok with perfectly cooked chunks of fresh dungeoness crab. The bowl didn’t survive a pass around the table, and we quickly ordered another. I had a strong urge to order still another.

                I always thought I liked hot food, but several members of our informal group are true fire eaters. Each table in most Chinese restaurants typically gets one jar of hot, oily chili paste. On our last Chinese excursion, Yummy House’s was plenty hot, but China Yuan’s had more flavor. Our leather-tongued judges declared ABC’s chili the best, which combines steadily mounting heat with excellent flavor. We drained two or three jars and all sinuses were cleared.

                Service was excellent throughout the meal. Our server even spoke enough English to be able to describe the dishes and answer questions about ingredients and technique.

                As the meal wound down, servers brought bowls of refreshing coconut milk and tapioca soup with fruit. It was plain to all that ABC deserved to be inducted into Tampa Bay’s pantheon of great Chinese restaurants. But if you want something soft and chewy, I recommend the e-mein with crab over the fried pig intestine. Trust me on this one.

                12 Replies
                  1. re: RibDog

                    Yeah, great job Andy. It's fun to relive the experience through your tastes and impressions. You succeeded in capturing all of the dishes. I didn't find the soup revolting but I have to agree that it was not the most delicious thing I ever ate. I liked the pork intestines but for the record it was Bill who inflicted them on the group this time and not me.

                    1. re: CFishman

                      At ABC they were just 'OK' compared to how I order them at YH--- with their sweet dipping sauce and sweet pickled daikon & carrot salad....
                      More toasty, crispy, and flavorful...

                  2. re: andy huse

                    Great job, I think you nailed it perfectly...

                    BTW, I'm hungry again...

                    1. re: Mild Bill

                      I'm crazy!!
                      I just now went to see the proper article at Creative Loafing Tampa and I'm so happy and honored to see the few pics I took up there...
                      Thanks Andy...

                    2. re: andy huse

                      thanks, andy! i'm salivating! the only one of all those listed that i've tried is the salt and pepper calimari and i love it. next time, i'm joining you, diet be damned.

                      1. re: andy huse

                        Great review man! Much appreciated!!!

                        I'd love to get together with you guys on your next foodie outing, please email me askdrtodd (at) gmail!

                        1. re: andy huse

                          My favorite was the jellyfish and I really like the chicken and sausage dish. I would like to go there and try their whole fish some time.

                          1. re: rhnault

                            that was the first thing i had my first time there; if i remember correctly, it was a nice big bass from the tank, in ginger and scallion sauce. i was hooked. :)

                            i guess i should post my email address too so i can be included on the next feast. i'm ManderleyRoamer@aol.com, whoever's in charge!

                          2. re: andy huse

                            Excellent review, Andy. Thanks.

                            I liked the fried quail special and the shrimp with fried milk balls. The quail was brown, glistening and meaty in flavor, somewhat as if the bird had been covered with a coating of beef fond from the bottom of a pan of beef stew. It was very tasty but, like all quail, boney.

                            The shrimp with fried milk balls I liked for the freshness of the shrimp. Someone in our group said that they were kept in a tank and dispatched on the spot when the dish was ordered. The fried milk balls, as Andy wrote, were very much like a deep fried custard. They were a little sweet, which was surprising and nice.

                            The nicest thing of all was getting to meet the other chowhounds and associate a face to names (well, monickers) I have been familiar with for years. It was suggested that we go to a Thai restaurant next. Whereever the group may wish to go, count me in! (In the picture, I'm the fellow to the right of Ribdog, the man in the aquamarine shirt.)

                            1. re: gfr1111

                              so you're the one who looks like my brother! yeah i like putting faces to the names i know so well too :)

                              1. re: gfr1111

                                OOH!! Thai is my fave! Wifey and I would love to hang out with you guys for some good Thai! I know all the places in south tampa, and a bunch of the others. I heard raves about Ban Thai but wasn't impressed. I'd love to find a thai place that actually makes things thai spicy! Also there's a cool spot on South Dale Mabry called Thai Kitchen & Market that was quite yummy and I was the only white guy in there which was a good sign. The market is really cool too!