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Aug 10, 2010 09:32 PM

East Bay Saigon Seafood Harbor Dinner Report [Richmond]

Dropped by this evening for dinner at the reopened Saigon Seafood Harbor in Richmond. Cavernous dining room with an open kitchen preparing the noodle, bbq dishes. Half full at 6:30 pm, but full when we left. The colorful fishes on the wall are still there, now on 50 foot long murals. Nothing but round wooden tables--even the small tables. Don't recall when they burned down, but I'm thinking it was at least 3 years ago and the food is as good as I recall. Crab, soup tureens, and hot pots were on all the tables. Food is a little pricey, with virtually nothing on the menu under $10, including rice/noodle dishes.

Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant
3150 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

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  1. Sounds like a price increase to recoup the damage incurred. What did you order?

    2 Replies
    1. re: K K

      Crab meat fish maw soup was among the best renditions. Rock cod done two ways (pan fried, leftovers in tofu casserole) was pretty good.

      Incidentally, Macau Cafe in the Pacific East Mall next door is closed, to be replaced by what sounds like some kind of dessert cafe.

      Pacific East
      3288 Pierce St # M126, Richmond, CA

      1. re: Chandavkl

        Cool, good to know.

        Yeah I heard about Macau Cafe closing down recently. It used to be part of the Culinary Wonderland empire. The Kitchen parted ways with Asian Pearl, and now they are separate entities. That ties in with the closure of The Kitchen in Southern California that happened earlier. "Shun Fung", basically the Chinese name of Asian Pearl (and not a direct translation) was the actual name of the executive chef of CW, now I hear he's only at that restaurant in Sacramento which is not quite in the same league, but I assume he can still cook it up if requested.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Haven't been there for dinner yet, but I did have a solo lunch/brunch on Oct. 15 as my first visit. I got there about 10:45am, which turned out to be 15 minutes before opening, and there were already people gathered at the door waiting to get in.

        Pre-fire, I'd loved the Hainan chicken lunch plate. Feeling like I needed to settle my stomach, I got the congee version. Really not that interesting visually or much different from other jook, but here is the photo.
        Creamy rice porridge with a light chicken-y and ginger flavor and buried under the surface, chunks of free-range chicken still red at the bone and perfect salting.

        I also grabbed a plate of har gao when it passed by on a tray. They're smaller than before and don't have the sticky, almost-gooey wrappers. Still very thinly wrapped, excellent texture on the whole shrimp, and quite close to my platonic ideal in flavor. Excellent job on these.

        I had a seat facing the tanks of live seafood and enjoyed watching the staff moving the stock around and cleaning the tanks. Some very active live sea urchins on ice looked very good as well.

        My tab was $12.75, including tax and tip, and I took the remaining three dumplings home with me. When I left before noon, the place was less than half-full, so I couldn't judge the hard acoustics. I was happy with my meal and would like to return for more.

        edited to add: White board specials

        11 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Re: dim sum
          selection isn't as large as sunnyvale's. most of the good stuff doesn't some out till after 11 a.m.
          still, eb saigon is one of the better dim sum operations (value and food prep) in the bay area.

          1. re: shanghaikid

            I was there on a week day, so service started at 11am.

            Have you tried things besides the dim sum?

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              no. weekends, they open at 10 a.m. didn't expect anything besides dim sum....
              looks like they are competing for daimo's business. daimo has a pricey menu. haven't been there to daimo's lately.
              lunch specials and deli plates definitly worth checking out. will no doubt be better than daimo's.

              1. re: shanghaikid

                Yeah, was really surprised at the prices at Daimo. I think East Bay Saigon is better and a better deal.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  I won't be ordering the wontons at Daimo again after trying them 2 1/2 weeks ago, per my report.


                  Daimo Chinese Restaurant
                  3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    i seldom order wonton anywheres these days. too many places recycle their old meat in the wonton meat. same thing can be said for the xiao long bao. but i eat very few of xlb. anyways.

                    sorry to hear of your experience. too many eateries are using shortcuts these days.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Don't order the wonton from Saigon richmond either. I got a bowl 2, 3 months ago and i was comparing it against the Saigon sunnyvale version. Soup was so-so, it doesn't taste like they put a lot of effort in making the soup base. Noodle was fine. I vaguely recall the wonton was smaller than SV. overall, can get a better version elsewhere.

                      1. re: ckshen

                        Thanks for the advice. Where do you recommend for Hong Kong style shrimp wonton?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          I don't know if I have come across a bowl that's outstanding around here- but the problem is also that I don't order it often, despite it being one of my favorite foods, I don't order it as much in the bay area because its hard to resist ordering other items on the menu since there are few specialized noodle houses around. And then one may run into the problem that shanghaikid pointed out- if the noodle kitchen is part of a larger restaurant where the noodle is the low price low margin item, and become the clearinghouse for stale ingredients. (along the same line, i wonder if mid-day dim sum serves the same purpose for the restaurant in regard to stale ingredients, since its cheaper than a typical dinner)

                          So I only tried in only a few places in the bay area over the years (most names escape me), most do a decent job, but nothing that 'wows'. and nothing that prompted me to return. i am sure there are good ones somewhere that chowhounds know of, though.

                          I read with envy the discussion thread from the Hong Kong board about the search for the perfect wonton. The thread analyzes very well the different components of the seemingly simple bowl of noodle soup- broth, wonton, noodle, and condiments. Perhaps a similar thread for the bay area will help locate that bowl of perfect wonton noodle.


                          Unrelated to this, a michelin star is awarded this year to a HK noodle place- Ho To Tai. cheapest Michelin meal ever at less than USD$2. it'd be nice to have noodle houses of a high caliber in the bay area. not that i have tried that place.

                        2. re: ckshen

                          @ckshen's comment about Saigon's broth:

                          I tried both the wonton and beef drop flank (ngau lam) mein and the same boring broth was used for both. Very disappointing.

                          It's been a while but I do remember being happy with Cooking Papa's wontons.

                          Cooking Papa
                          2830 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                          1. re: PorkButt

                            Recently I had a good dim sum lunch so decided to go back for dinner. Wanted to do primarily seafood ...... here's what we had: Porridge with geoduck clam. Live spot prawns sam pan style. Braised tofu with black mushrooms and bok choy. Clay Pot of sea bass and eggplant/garllc. Steamed egg custard with manila clams. Salt & pepper scallops. Mustard greens with crab/egg white. E-fu noodles with dried scallops and enoki mushrooms. Green bean soup and coconut jelly for dessert. A few glasses of wine and white rice for the table ..... it all came to just under $200. About $25 per person. Splurges were the live geoduck clam / about $30 lb and the live spot prawns / about $27 lb. Overall, an excellent meal. The jook with clam was delicious ...... nice ginger notes and creamy broth ...... tender sweet clam meat. Enough for multiple bowls for 8 diners ....... everybody had at least 2 bowls ....some three. The sea bass./eggplant clay pot was a favorite ..... eggplant melted in your mouth and the fish was tasty. Braised tofu/mushroom/bok choy was OK - not sure I'd get that again. The steamed egg custard with clams was well executed - perfect egg custard - silky smooth ...... clams a hair over but still tasty. Salt & pepper scallops were sweet and tender under a crisp batter. E- fu noodles were a umami bomb - not exciting to look at but full of flavor. And the mustard greens with crab - perfectly cooked mustard greens : bright green, tender but still with some texture . We were offered the green bean soup - not my favorite - and then he offered us some coconut jelly on the house ....... yeah - much better way to end the dinner for all of us. Good coconut flavor and refreshingly cool.