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May 12, 2010 11:24 PM

Lobster Lo Mein and Surf Clams @ R and B Seafood in Palo Alto

Now that I’ve been to R&B Seafood twice now, a couple dishes stand-out: lobster lo mein and giant clams.

Lobster lo mein, $12.95, is crowned with a good-sized fresh New England lobster stir-fried with ginger and scallions. The wide noodles, bathed in a savory pan sauce, were firm with good tooth and a silky mouthfeel. The lobster had one regular-sized and one tiny front claw.

The giant clam aka queen’s clam or surf clam is a must order, $5.95. Shown here as two orders, the clams are expertly carved, seasoned with garlic, soy sauce, and scallions, and steamed with a little bundle of vermicelli to soak up the juices. Tender and bursting with the sweet flavor of freshness, the minimalist treatment and steaming on point lets the natural goodness of these huge mollusks shine through. One order, split between the two halves of the shell, makes a nice appetizer serving for two people.

Some others that we liked:

Steamed oysters on the half shell with fermented black beans, half-order (3 pieces), $4.50, were fat and juicy, cooked to a custard-like texture.

Whole black bass, clear steamed with ginger and scallions. At $12/pound, this weighed in at $18. Very good hand at steaming here with the flesh needing a bit of coaxing to come off the bone.

Crispy Cantonese fried chicken with garlic, $8.95. Half a bird, delectable golden brown crackly skin, seasoned with salt and fried garlic. The breast pieces were a little bit dry, but a good effort overall.

As others have recommended, the live seafood dishes are well-priced and the kitchen’s forte.

More photos with comments in captions

R & B Seafood
2209 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

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  1. melanie always steers me the right way - had an order of the surf clam and the lobster lo mein yesterday - both were great - I think I prefer the clam for the value...and ease of eating :)
    Went back today and had two whole servings of the surf clam to myself - didn't finish the noodles though - took this for a later snack.

    I also tried the steamed bass on a prior visit - it was perfectly cooked - and delicious when I got a chance to get a bit in between my two little ones...the couldn't get that in their little mouths fast enough - they don't usually like cooked fish so this was unusual.

    I heard from another customer that the chicken feet are also quite good...I must go back and see.

    3 Replies
    1. re: takuhead

      Glad you enjoyed it. I'll mention that Atlantic surf clams, lobster and farmed striped bass all rate as Best Choice or Good Alternative on the Seafood Watch list. And the chicken dish I reported on in my original post was made with a wong mo gai (yellow-crowned chicken), a heritage breed. I know that sourcing is very important to you.

      I wanted to scream and felt like stabbing a chopstick in Eric Asimov when I read this yesterday, lamenting the lack of ingredient-driven Slow Food cuisine at Chinese restaurants.

      Can't make any promise on the atmosphere, but any Hong Kong-style restaurant around here is serving up some dishes with top-notch ingredients, if you order the appropriate dishes. Even the cheap ones like R & B.

      R & B Seafood
      2209 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Thanks for the head's up on the chicken - I did have a conversation with the server there about chinese chicken versus what most american's she told me to be sure to request the more flavorful, less meaty local natural chicken verus the standard factory farmed fat ones...and that stuff is important to me - I almost never order chicken out for that reason...
        I was craving that clam today but alas I was too far away to partake - may go there tomorrow for lunch :)
        Know anywhere else near here with that clam preparation?

        1. re: takuhead

          Hmm, Hong Kong-style seafood restaurants are sparse on the ground of Palo Alto. I have had the giant clam at Hong Kong Restaurant in Mountain View, but it wasn't nearly as good as here. Across the Bay in Fremont, Asian Pearl should have it. Bear in mind that these clams are a seasonal item, so eat up now before they go away until next year.

          Hong Kong Restaurant
          2650 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

    2. RESTRICTED ENTRY sign on door when I visited Sunday August 22, 2010. Emergency inspection by a Palo Alto department found building unsafe on structural, electrical and sanitation grounds. Only persons allowed in building were to be workman fixing the place. Date of sign August 16, 2010.

      I drove through Sedro Lane in back of restaurant to go to next restaurant, Hunan Garden for the same meal choices we had planned for. The back door of R & B was open and there was a pickup truck with building supplies next to the open door.

      R & B Seafood
      2209 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

      4 Replies
      1. re: Gene786

        Where's Sedro Lane? I live in the area and have never heard of Sedro Lane. Just wondering.

        1. re: vincentlo

          Sedro Lane is the roadway which forms the entrance to the parking structure east of el camino off Cambridge. and also allows entrance and exit to the parking for the building housing Radioshack.

        2. re: Gene786

          I just heard that R & B is open again.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            The restricted entrance sign was down one week ago, and I saw a large OPEN sign there Sunday Sept. 5

        3. I live around the corner and never would have gone in this place. It looks kind of skeezy but based on this I might have to check it out!

          6 Replies
          1. re: Foodie.wannabe

            I ate there today - sold out of the sea bass and the surf clam from Monday evening - tried the spicy fish fillet with eggplant - asked for it to be sauteed rather than fried - really good - fish was tender, moist and perfectly cooked - eggplant was also very good

            Service was attentive as usual

            1. re: takuhead

              I've hard that the owners used to have a restaurant in San Francisco. If you have a chance, could you please inquire about this and find out which one?

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Its Pearl City (珠城) Restaurant, next to the theater. never been there. but its right in SF chinatown on Jackson.

                i asked about the chicken. the waitress mentioned that the better quality chicken is only in the 'gwai fei' chicken dish (empress chicken?), so ordered half of it. tasty. also got the surf clam, lobster noodle and scallop rice. the surf clam is very good. the other two dishes are nicely done as well.

                the daily soup, has carrot, chicken leg, peanuts, and some pork. very good considering that its free, and good even if its not free. they offer to refill after i cleaned up the entire bowl. the free dessert, red bean soup, is also good.

                doesn't taste like there is MSG since dining partner is sensitive to it.

            2. re: Foodie.wannabe

              The people here are very nice. The male waiter makes good recommendations and is completely fluent in English.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Is that Jason? Both he and the other female server no longer work there, after they reopened.

                1. re: vincentlo

                  I don't know names and I've not been back to the restaurant. But that's sad.