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South Sea Seafood Village Opens in Millbrae

Passing through Millbrae this afternoon, I noticed the "grand opening" sign on the former site of Fook Yuen. The new occupant is a second location of San Francisco's, South Sea Seafood Village. It opened on Sunday. Please report in if you've tried it!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

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South Sea Seafood Village
1420 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

South Sea Seafood Village
195 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

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  1. It is a lot fancier than before. Pretty busy during lunch for dim sum.

    They have a lot of guts opening another Cantonese Chinese restaurant in the middle of Millbrae which is home to some excellent places like Asian Pearl already.

    Pics of inside, menu
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodnut/...

    4 Replies
    1. re: Foodnut8

      Yep, I did step inside. The interior is no less gaudy than the SF original. I agree that it's gutsy to come to Millbrae, as I've not found the SF restaurant to be as good as the Millbrae stalwarts so they'll have to step up their game. However, when Seafood Harbor in Millbrae closed, the rumors were that the chef went to SSSV. Maybe he's back in Millbrae again.

      Did you have dim sum?

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Had dinner. Service was in the one star range, still getting in sync. Food was pretty average only good dish was a Peking duck 2 ways, Seafood noodles, and perhaps the BBQ platter.

        Nothing special about this place. I'd hit Asian Pearl instead.

        Pictures, all the menus
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodnut/...

        1. re: Foodnut8

          I concur. I was there last week and the place got quite busy. The food wasn't that great considering what they charge. Had the ginseng/chicken soup which had no ginseng flavor, except that it was rather sweet so I suspect MSG. Also ordered squab which was good, and a chicken/black fungus dish which was bland. Pea sprouts & garlic was decent. Order one bowl of rice which never showed up. I'd go to Asian Pearl instead too.

          1. re: baron45

            Went for Dim Sum Lunch a couple days back.. Surprisingly solid with a pretty wide selection and reasonable prices. $2.50, $3.10, $3.50, $5.25 per dish.

            Roaming servers with trays plus menu ordering. Twas pretty empty early on so service was fine.
            You can see pics at foodnut.com

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            South Sea Seafood Village
            195 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

    2. Wandered into South Sea Seafood Village for lunch today after picking up my folks at SFO (and after finding Cafe Salina, my original destination, closed for the day). I had no expectations in particular since I'd never seen or even heard of the place before, but found the food (mostly off their dim sum menu) to be quite good. Standouts included a plate of sugar snap peas with garlic and a stir-fry of lotus root and luffa with XO sauce. The latter was especially excellent. Whoever's manning the wok knows what they're doing.

      Shrimp rice roll came stuffed with generously large shrimp. I didn't care as much for the bitter melon rice rolls with pork spare ribs, but my parents actually liked the dish a lot.

      We had planned to try a surf clam noodle dish that they'd advertised on the sign on the door, but they were sold out of that by 1:30-ish, when we were there.

      The only thing that was a little bit annoying was that the hostess pushed the "daily special" on us pretty hard: an herbal chicken soup with abalone. The special deal was that it was two bowls for the price of one, but the regular price for one (smallish) bowl is $16! It was tasty enough a bowl of soup, to be sure, but the abalone itself wasn't particularly memorable. Not an $8 bowl of soup; certainly not a $16 one.

      Otherwise, the service and atmosphere were both quite pleasant. Decor/atmosphere is "fancy" for a dim sum place, as others have noted. The total bill for lunch was on the high side, but again, I think that's because we ordered so many of the special items--I believe these were priced at $6.50 each, but the portion size for these is big, more like a full dish than a small plate.

      Overall, my parents, who, like many older Chinese folks, are picky about their Chinese food, found the meal to be an impressive introduction to the Bay Area Chinese restaurant scene. Definitely leaps and bounds better than what's easily accessible to them on the East Coast. I don't know if I liked it better than nearby HK Flower Lounge, but there were enough interesting things on the menu that I'd definitely come back and try some more.

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      Cafe Salina
      235 Broadway, Millbrae, CA 94030

      South Sea Seafood Village
      195 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

      1 Reply
      1. re: abstractpoet

        Thanks for the report. Sounds like dim sum lunch is the way to go here or maybe the restaurant has finally hit its stride. I'm glad your parents had a good time.

      2. An update on SSSV for dim sum --- I had a chance to try it last month with my mom, first time for both of us. We arrived on the late side when the place had cleared out. Mom was concerned by the lack of customers, but needn’t have. The interior is as red, shiny with crystal and gilt-coated as the San Francisco venue. The staff were already sitting down for their own meal but came over to offer us the glossy, color-print check off menu.

        The honey BBQ pork was already sold-out and the surf clam noodles never showed up (conspiracy, abstractpoet?), here’s what we tried:

        Bitter melon, roast duck, rice noodle, $6.50 – Surprised me when this claypot arrived at the table, as this dish was listed under the rice noodle ROLL section. But closer inspection of the name of the dish, and unlike the others, it does not say ROLL. Not a bad thing as the savory gravy with a faint touch of bitters was incredibly delectable, and this serving size is larger than the typical cheung fun plate. More to love. Mom was surprised that I’d ordered bitter melon. It’s something that I try to eat once in a while as it’s purported to be so health-giving --- anti-inflammatory, carb killer, good for the skin. The sweetness of the roast duck seasonings and the salty fermented black beans helped to counteract some of the bitter flavor. All good with the chewy rolled up rice noodles. Next time the mood strikes me, this is the dish I’ll want.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

        Taro puffs, $3.40 – Also very good, greaseless and light, definitely fried to order. Flavorful taro, the real thing and not from instant powder, had some chunky bits but I prefer that to industrial smoothness. Hand-chopped texture to the pork filling and just the right amount of non-gooey gravy to keep things moist and pull the flavors together. Delicious with a spot of hot sauce.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

        Spinach shrimp dumplings, $3.40 – My favorite of this lunch. Translucent wrappers so thin and gossamer, yet with some chewy bite, that the shrimp filling flecked with green baby spinach leaves were easy to identify. Very clean flavors and great texture to the shrimp.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

        Roasted pork belly, $6.00 – The one clunker of this meal. While the airy, puffed up skin looked like it should be light and crackly, instead it was hard and tough seemingly reheated and baked to inedibility.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

        I hadn’t noticed the upgraded tea list before we ordered, but will certainly take advantage of it next time. Regular tea is $1 per person; we had the pu-erh. Other selections are $2 or $3 per person.

        Total for two, $27, including tax and tip, plus some rice noodles and roast pig leftovers to repurpose at home.

        The service was attentive, even more so considering that the staff were eating, but one or more would get up to check on us. The food was better than my recollection of the dim sum at SSSV in San Francisco. Pretty impressive to execute so well on steamed dumplings, deep-fried, and braised dishes. We’d had a couple fair-to-middling experiences at Zen Peninsula in the last year, and we’d definitely return here first.

         
        15 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Ah, the elusive surf clams. What a tease!

          The past couple times I've done dim sum in Millbrae have been at Hong Kong Flower Lounge, and the food was just OK, especially considering the wait time and the brusque service -- next time I'll have to remember to give SSSV another try instead.

          1. re: abstractpoet

            Just want to add that I was having dim sum at The Kitchen a month ago, and the overall quality was just not that high. I remember like 5 years ago it was one of the gold standards in the Bay Area, like Koi Palace and Yank Sing. Maybe they have different dim sum chefs now? Still packed even on weekdays though. Won't go back for dim sum.

            1. re: vincentlo

              I haven't been back to the Kitchen in a while, but since the Culinary Wonderland reshuffled where The Kitchen and Asian Pearl went their separate ways, I've only heard average things about The Kitchen thus far. Even Shun Feng himself (the chairman of CW and apparently the only guy who really knows how to cook the good stuff during dinner) was last spotted at his restaurant in Sacramento, and isn't much involved in the Millbrae restaurant anymore. Asian Pearl continues to be pretty decent in dim sum though I prefer Zen Peninsula's variety.

              1. re: K K

                How's Hong Kong Flower Lounge these days? For some reason, among the Millbrae Cantonese restaurants, all my Cantonese- and Mandarin-speaking friends are always going instead to The Kitchen (mostly because of their late hours, plus pretty decent hot pot--just don't compare to Koi Palace's version), Zen Peninsula, Asian Pearl, Gourmet Village, and now the new (very well-deserved) darling--Champagne Soup.

                1. re: K K

                  Out of curiosity, have you been to the Fremont location of Asian Pearl? If you have, how would you compare the dim sum there to the dim sum up in the Milbrae location?

                  I occasionally go to the Fremont location, and while some items are quite good, there are a bunch of items that are just so-so on execution.

                  1. re: Jon914

                    Sorry never been...but I was told within the last year to two that the Richmond East Bay branch (where the 99 Ranch is) is the best of the three. But no idea how it is now.

              2. re: abstractpoet

                if you want to try a good dish from surf clams, that was one of our favorites at Saigon Harbor in Richmond.

                1. re: moto

                  The one with green beans? I just had that last week -- definitely the best dish of the night (ginger-scallion Dungeness was kind of disappointing).

              3. re: Melanie Wong

                Yes, it's always quite a blingy experience to dine at SSSV.

                I tried the Millbrae location for dim sum last month, the first time we tried this venue, and it was good. Don't remember everything we had but I know for sure we had the beef rice noodle roll, because my youngest always orders a plate of that just for himself. We also always get the XO rice noodle rolls. I also remember trying the fish rice noodle roll (is there a theme here?). These were all good and I can be quite picky about rice noodle rolls, particularly if the noodles are too thick.

                A couple of the managers came by to say hi and said the SF location is closed and undergoing renovations, apparently to update the kitchen facilities.

                1. re: sumimao

                  Great to see a post from you, sumimao! For some reason I have a renewed interest in cheung fun (rice noodle rolls), now that there are several places that are doing an especially good job with them. Will have to try them here too.

                2. re: Melanie Wong

                  I had dinner this weekend at SSSV with Yimster and a couple of other hounds. Yimster ordered and schmoozed the staff, so I don't know if it was typical, but the service was quite good (changed plates, etc.). We had the Peking duck two ways, which was good, although I thought the second version was a little bland -- the duck flavor just didn't come through, maybe because Peking duck has almost all the fat rendered out of it. The suckling pig, however, was excellent. We had a couple of other dishes I didn't care for -- Canton shredded beef, which was too sweet for my taste, and some braised pork ribs that also had a sweet sauce that I would have liked if it had been with other dishes that weren't similarly sweet/rich. All of the dishes were executed well, but the selection of dishes wasn't well balanced -- not the restaurant's fault! Maybe my favorite thing was the off-menu dessert -- an elegant flute of mango and pomelo juice and bits of fruit and small tapioca pearls. The tartness of the pomelo made for a refreshing palate cleanser after the rich meal.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I was one of the other Chowhounds at the dinner and I think I was a little more enthusiastic about SSSV than Ruth, although we agreed that the Cantonese Beef. Our fourth, Edgar, loved this dish, and I think Yimster did, too.

                    I flipped over the suckling pig, though -- as good as any I've had. I also loved the Old Fire Soup, our first course, a pork soup with big pieces of carrots and corn on the cob. Very simple, homestyle soup that was a welcoming prelude to the meal. I agree that the pork ribs were sweet, too, but to me in a pleasing way. The pea leaves were good, too, if standard issue. I loved the dessert, too.

                    1. re: Dave Feldman

                      Yes, the old-fire soup was homey and satisfying, especially on such a rainy night!

                      As I said, I think I would have enjoyed the braised pork more if it hadn't been surrounded by so many other rich dishes, but it suffered in the context of two other pork dishes and one other sweet-sauced dish. I'd be very happy with just the pork ribs, the pea shoots and some rice!

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        There was a little misunderstanding. I have never had this braised pork rib dish since the floor manager said it as a new offering. From the name I had no idea that it was on the sweet side. I had plan to order the Cantonese Steak dish since it a main stay of Hong Kong food I wanted Dave and his guest to give it a try.

                        I was think of more of savory dish. But I like the ribs more the steak.

                        I the meal did give me a warming feeling on a cold raining night.