REVIEW w/ pics: A Couple of High Notes at Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
Whenever you go to a restaurant and the word "seafood" is part of its name, the expectations are pretty high. Unfortunately, things fell a little short when it came to a few of the seafood offerings at Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant while one non seafood dish really got my attention in a very good way.
A group of us from my dining group shared a total of 8 dishes starting with the Braided Crab Meat and Fish Maw Soup. Unfortunately, this is one dish I wouldn't order again. It was completely bland. The addition of soy sauce and some chili paste was definitely needed to add some flavor, but even then, it wasn't an appealing dish. Also, it felt as if corn starch was used to thicken the soup and too much of it, which made the texture a little unpalatable.
On the other hand, the House Lobster was not only a thing of beauty and looked quite impressive on the plate it arrived in, it was absolutely delicious. The flavors of the lobster took on a lot of garlic and onion notes as well as a lot of other fantastic spices, but the meat itself was also quite succulent. What I also appreciated was that the Lobster was already cut up in pieces and the claws cracked for easy access to the meat.
The French Style Beef Loc Lac that followed the Lobster was a dish I'd expect to see more in a Cambodian or Vietnamese restaurant, but thank goodness, it was a part of this meal. The beef, which I think was cooked with soy sauce, black pepper and some kind of tart citrus, really made my taste buds happy. The beef was also amazingly tender which is definitely a reason why this dish is a must order.
When it came to the House Special Trout, the presentation was something to behold. The fish was twisted this way and that way and looked like a piece of art. I enjoyed the crispy skin and mild and delicate fish meat. Unfortunately, I found the sauce a tad too sweet and hard to avoid since the entire fish was drenched with it. There's something to be said sometimes for ordering food with sauce on the side.
The next to arrive were the Clams with Spicy Basil Sauce. It was nice to see that the clams were actually a pretty good size and even more importantly, all the shells actually had clam meat in them, which isn't always the case in my seafood dining experience. Other than the clams being a tad too chewy and the sauce needing to be more spicy, this dish wasn't bad.
Our final three dishes weren't that exciting. The Kung Pao Chicken lacked even a little bit of heat while Vegetable Deluxe was absolutely tasteless. At least the Salt and Pepper Pork Chops were seasoned well and I liked the jerky, chewy texture of the pork meat itself.
Overall, my meal at Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant was uneventful with a couple of really high notes in the House Lobster and the Beef Loc Lac. Considering that this has only been my first visit and we tried only 8 dishes, I would need to come back a couple more times to get a better feel for their food. However, because of this one first impression, I don't feel the desire to make a repeat visit any time soon.
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
518 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
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You had the chicken at Tan Cang? I don't think I've had any protein other than the Bo Loc Lac and seafood during my visits there. Can I recommend the shark fin soup with crab, salt and pepper shrimp...and either the house special crab or garlic crab for your next visit? Those are some of my favorites along with the lobster, beef, and clams (and you're right about it not being spicy...it's really never been spicy in all of my visits, but I still love the dish...it's my grandma's favorite). I've been eating there since I was a kid...and those are the dishes that evoke the greatest eating memories for me.
The Bo Loc Lac is something we always get there, and our favorite part is eating the lettuce underlayment! So delicious with the sauce and meat juices as dressing. We were disappointed with it on our last visit, as instead of the usual pile of carefully shredded lettuce there were just a few whole leaves of romaine. I suspect that was simply because the place was really packed that night.
Nice to get a good description of the lobster. We're going to have to try that one of these times, when we aren't pinching pennies.
The Bo Loc Lac and the House Special Lobster (or Crab) are the dishes to get at Newport. Everything else is just sort of there to make the menu look like a real menu.
RE: the fish maw soup. It is supposed to be bland and have a thick, almost custardy, texture. That's the reason people order it. You're suppose to doctor it up with white pepper and/or black vinegar. Soy sauce and chili paste was probably a bad move.
I went during prime dinner time on a weekend; lobster was awfully greasy, chicken feet salad tasteless. I hear the lobster comes out better when it's less hectic.
Not compelled to return anytime soon.