Seafood Village – Great Chao Zhou seafood, a taste of Hong Kong
see full review with pics: www.lauhound.com
Seafood Village is a Chinese seafood restaurant in Temple City that specializes in Chao Zhou (潮州) cuisine. Chao Zhou, also known as Chiu Chow or Teochew, is an region in Guangdong province where better known Cantonese food is from; it is distinct in that they have their own language and cuisine.
Chao Zhou food is generally known to be lighter and less oily than Cantonese food. It also relies on a lot of fresh ingredients. When I was young I ate various Chao Zhou dishes, but mistakenly thought it was just Cantonese dishes. I only started to understand the difference when I lived in Singapore and stayed in Hong Kong for an extended period of time (there are a lot of Chao Zhou in Singapore and there is a large population of Chao Zhou people in HK and it is among the most popular cuisines there). I really came to appreciate it as one of my favorite Chinese cuisines.
Seafood Village looks like a typical Chinese banquet type of restaurant with high ceilings, chandeliers, white walls with pictures of the specialties on the wall. It gets crowded as many families will come to have dinner there. The service is fine and servers were reasonably nice and attentive. Our server didn’t really speak English, but if you don’t have anyone that speaks Chinese it should not be a problem as the entire menu is translated into English and there is plenty of pictures in the menu, so pointing should work just fine.
On to the food:
- Braised Duck and Tofu (Lu Wei / 卤味): this is a very famous style of Chao Zhou braising preparation called “lu wei” in Chinese. It’s prepared braising meats in a mixture of soy sauce, star anise, water, spices and sugar. It’s very popular and in Hong Kong you’ll see lots of small Chao Zhou restaurants with various lu wei meats hanging in the windows. Although it looks similar to it’s Cantonese BBQ meats, it is much lighter, less salty and less fatty. The version here is fairly typical in that it is sliced duck with the skin on over a bed of sliced tofu and boiled peanuts all over which have been thoroughly braised in the lu wei sauce (hence their yellowish color although it can also be a very brown color). The flavor was good, it was nice and light and not salty (it should not be very salty). The meat should have been a bit more tender, but it was still good. The peanuts and tofu were excellent. Overall, a good dish.
- Beef and Radish casserole: I believe this is more of a Cantonese dish, but this is a home style dish that I have a soft spot for, so I decided to try it here. It is a very light flavored dish consisting of beef and radish (daikon) stewed in a slightly cloudy beef broth garnished with green onions and some crispy golden fried onions. The beef was tender although not quite as tender as a really good version should be, still good nonetheless. The daikon was excellent and had a good soft texture without being mushy. The beef broth had a good flavor and wasn’t overly salty, but didn’t quite have the deep beef flavor that a really good version has. I liked this dish although I think my family liked it less than I did
- Spicy Clam casserole: I ordered this dish b/c my GF thought it sounded good. It’s clams in a spicy broth with green onions and chilis diced up into it; at the bottom there was a bed of glass noodles. It was spicy, but not overly spicy (there isn’t much spicy food in Chao Zhou cuisine). The clams tasted fresh and were not overcooked, which is good b/c in a lot of casserole dishes I find the clams to be overcooked. The broth was quite good, a bit more salty than I like, but still good. I really liked the glass noodles as they complemented the spicy broth well. Overall, another good dish, I think my family liked this dish better than I did though.
- Garlic Fried Crab: this is the dish that Seafood Village is famous for, you will see it on every table. The dish consists of a large crab (I got a 4 lb crab) cut into pieces and battered in a garlic and salt batter then covered in delicious finely diced fried garlic and green onions. This dish is so good, the crab is easy to eat as you can literally just bite into the crab shell and it cracks easily. The meat is sweet and the batter is delicious. I particularly love the fried garlic on top, I eat it by itself. Everyone loved this dish.
- Golden Fried Rice: although the garlic crab is the most famous dish at Seafood Village, my favorite dish here is the golden fried rice. It is a very simple preparation done really well. It’s fried rice using egg whites only with thinly diced green onions, small golden fried onions, small bits of shrimps and meat in it as well. It is so light and fluffy, not remotely oily or overly salty with a good wok flavor to it. I ate like 3 bowls of it, I highly recommend this dish.
- Green Bean Soup (Tang Shui): this was complementary sweet green bean soup that most banquet restaurants give you. It was pretty standard, just a sweet soup of green beans.
- Crystal Buns: these are small glutinous buns filled with various sweet fillings. There are 4 varieties consisting of black sesame, custard, melon and lotus paste. I’m not a huge fan of these as I don’t really like the oily glutinous exterior. The fillings were pretty decent although I didn’t like the melon flavor as it tasted too artificial.
Overall, I like Seafood Village a lot. The food is quite good and it’s a great place to go with a group of family or friends. Highly recommend.