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Nov 8, 2013 09:47 PM

Best HK-style seafood restaurants in SGV - for seafood, for dinner


I'd love to hear what folks think are the best HK-style seafood restaurants in the SGV for dinner - and for quality, variety, and distinctiveness of preparation of the seafood. Most of the posts on these restaurants in recent years seem to focus on dim sum, and not what's available at dinner.

My apologies if this seems to be covering territory that's been covered in Chowhound before, but my searches aren't coming up with recent postings on this question - and I'm wondering if folks have new ideas or have changed their minds about the best places for HK-style seafood.

Thanks on advance for your recommendations!

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    1. re: ipsedixit

      Both places are often deserted for dinner, for good reason....

      Still trying to figure out where the Lamborghini and Ferrari set high rollers hang out for dinner in SGV

        1. re: Sgee

          Still trying to figure out where the Lamborghini and Ferrari set high rollers hang out for dinner in SGV

          In their cars. Driving. And smiling.

          And for what it's worth, most Chinese restaurants in SGV are "deserted" during weekday dinner service.

          1. re: Sgee

            I've seen Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis at some of the least likely places. A Ferrari in front of the Hong Kong Cafe on Garvey, a Lambo in the large plaza on Gale in the City of Industry and even once saw a Tesla roadster park in front of the Ten Ren on Valley in San Gabriel.

        2. granted, it's been 20 years since i've been in HK, but i've wondered about the recent use of the term "HK style seafood" given that cantonese & chiu chow are the main regional cuisines that have a lot of seafood and that HK is what, 95% cantonese (?). seems to me the only thing that really raises the bar in HK is the percentage of clientele with mongo disposable income. even in LA, i'd hesitate to suggest that we have critical mass in terms of similar clientele sufficient to create enough demand, especially with the economy as it is..

          so while there are other types of cuisine in HK, when i hear HK style, my first impulse is to amend that with "cafe" to describe the chinese-western style stuff you get at some place like JJ's.

          40 Replies
          1. re: barryc

            For some reason, I remember one of the restaurants in the SGV served a $500 bowl of soup a few years back. Though for the life of me, I can't remember exactly what was in the soup.

            1. re: kevin

              Most likely high grade shark fin and/or dried abalone

            2. re: barryc

              back in the 90;s they had someone described as "the abalone king" visit from HK. some 24 hour process steaming abalone between whole chickens and other meats. $775 a person, minimum 4 people. i wanted to try it but couldn't find 3 other people to go. but this is what i'm talking about.

              1. re: barryc

                That sounds exceptional.

                Please let me know the rest of the details.

                It sounds great.

                Sounds a little like that $500 bowl of soup in the SGV from a few years back but even pricier.

                Btw, is shark fin soup officially banned now per regulations, or is there still a grace period for it to go into effect ?????

                Thanks man.

                1. re: kevin

                  the guy was in town for maybe a month - one hit wonder - the abalone was the only reason to eat any of his cooking. about 20 years ago IIRC. never heard of him again.

                  1. re: barryc

                    The "king of abalone" guy is probably Yeung Koon Yat...the executive chef of The Forum in Causeway Bay (who also has a new restaurant in Tsim Sa Tsui, Ah Yat's Harborview). He also did a guest chef appearance in San Francisco, probably during the early 90s. Didn't know he came to LA/SGV around the same time.

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        did you consult your notebook for that one? lol

                        1. re: ns1

                          I probably do have it in my notebook, but since I was pretty sure it was Harbor Village it was easy to track down.

                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            What was the name of the joint with the smoked pomfret ???????


                            1. re: kevin

                              Notebook of newspaper clippings. Food items are a small part of it.

                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                i have a folder over 1" thick of newspaper recipes dating back to the 80's.

                                1. re: barryc

                                  I guess you two can duke it out over who has more newspaper tear outs.

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    I will take Chandavkl's Excel files over anyone's newspaper clippings, incl Buster Olney's collection of box scores.

                        2. re: K K

                          that sounds about right. executive chef at the forum? wow. is he really that good a chef overall?

                          1. re: barryc

                            I haven't eaten dishes cooked by the man himself and he is pretty much a retired aged guy who still runs front of house, but maybe doesn't cook quite as much. But the guy has a very loyal following amongst celebrities and the uber wealthy financial sector folks who are willing to plunk down low thousands (US$) for a meal. Probably not something LA sushi hounds would really appreciate, only those heavily into and can tell the difference between quality shark fin, abalone, swallow's nest, sea cucumber, fish maw etc. It's all in the master stock (mature chicken and Jing Hua Chinese ham, dried scallops), braising/stewing/simmering, and infusing the flavors into the abalone to create the desired texture (like a 63 degree jelly egg, in the center of the abalone)

                            1. re: K K

                              the forum really doesn't seem to cater to tourists as much as the rich and famous who want to be seen plunking down obscene amounts of cash for a meal. maybe it's as much about that as the food?

                              1. re: barryc

                                There are actually multiple grades of abalone out there, and much like wine, you need to have a baseline of what your money is getting you after the sticker shock and markup.

                                You *can* get good braised abalone without paying a fortune, and of course the cheaper alternative is to use a farmed fresh one. At The Forum you can also order entrees without seafood, and still walk out happy.

                                The ones celebs and the uber wealthy are paying for are the dried Japanese abalone of higher quality/pedigrees (as well as size and weight). The three most famous types (all Japanese) are 網鮑 (amidoi, net caught), 吉品鮑 (Kippin abalone, the premium stuff from Iwate prefecture in Japan), and 禾麻鮑 (Oma abalone, from Aomori prefecture, also known as the Japanese wild bluefin tuna mecca). You could get a small piece of Japanese Kippin over a little over US$100 on the lower end, and the amidoi on a high scale (6 pieces per catty kind of size) can run US$2000 a piece. No idea what kinds Koi Palace or Sea Harbor might have, but unless you educate yourself, you could be throwing away $ or paying more for something that would be mid tier in HK, or some substitute posing as pedigree.

                                But yes...The Forum, Fook Lam Moon, and a few other places in town, they don't call it "canteen for the rich" for nothing.

                    1. re: barryc

                      I was at one of those dinners. At the old Harbour Village. You stabbed the abalone, onto forks, then nibbled around the sides contemplatively as if they were $400 ice cream cones. The texture was exquisite.

                      I actually don't remember a single other thing about the meal, except probably for the shots of Johnnie Walker Blue.

                      1. re: condiment

                        Gonna have to say... I SO wished I was there!

                        1. re: J.L.

                          You didn't miss much. Or maybe I was too young to appreciate it.

                        2. re: condiment

                          Same here.

                          I'm so incredibly envious Condiments.

                      2. re: barryc

                        Re: "HK style seafood". In the USA, that's pretty much relegated to dim sum seafood restaurants, or smaller mom and pop bistro/roasties type restaurants with a fish tank, and whatever is available from the restaurant.

                        The idea is that the customer can pick and choose however they want the item prepared.

                        Crabs are typically "typhoon shelter" style fried with chilis and garlic, or ginger scallion, or salt & pepper fried. Lobsters typically ginger scallion stir fried, or fried/baked and served in superior broth. Fresh prawns are either boiled and served with a dipping sauce, or in some cases pan fried or stir fried till you can eat the shell and the head (salt pepper fried or soy sauce king stir fried...or with uhm...ketchup).

                        In reality, there should be numerous preps, not just the common ones above.

                        The idea is a lot of variety, empowering the customer with choices, along with quality food (hopefully at a reasonable price).

                        But true HK style seafood in more about the seasons, the geography, and the attitude, as well as invoking modern, fusion, or traditional methods per application and situation (e.g. traditions as employed by local fishermen, choosing a pan fried variety with pickled vegetables or Chinese celery instead of steaming, or steaming something with saltwater and oil to preserve the ocean flavors), and knowing the exact method to use on what fish and for what season.

                        Newport would be Vietnamese Chinese style...while that can be loosely called Chiu Chow, that does not exist in any form in HK....Chiu Chow seafood in HK would be something like....salt pepper fried Bombay duck, taking seasonal catches off the coast and cooking it in broth, rubbing it in salt and serving them as a cold dishes with a vinegar dip (e.g. kapok/big eye chicken, some sort of bream/snapper, threadfin, or mullet, where fish is eaten like rice)

                        1. re: K K

                          This post is awesome. Is it possible to ask for Newport "house special" style crab or lobster in a Cantonese restaurant? What would that prep be called? If not, what do you suggest? Ginger/scallion bores me.

                          1. re: K K

                            thanks for the clarification, (ketchup?) as you describe it, i don't think there's enough daily demand to justify trying to run a restaurant of this caliber in s. ca in the SGV. if you could find a way to cater to the folks who will pay top dollar at the primo sushi places on the west side one might make it work, i think. but IMO it would be as much marketing as the quality of the meal.

                            pan frying most freshly killed fish would not result in a great dining experience; the fish would seize up. you really need to let a fish go through rigor mortis if you are going to cook it by any other means than steaming. however, if someone in HK has figured out how to do it (cook a freshly caught fish not by steaming it without it seizing up), i'd love to hear how they do it.

                            1. re: barryc

                              Most seafood available at the fresh fish markets over there have a mixture of fresh live fish and clams, and fresh dead fish on ice, but still good enough for steaming if eaten within a short timespan of purchasing.

                              And if you are lucky enough to buy seafood from a place in HK (e.g. Aberdeen/Ap Lei Chau area on the Southern Island, or even Lau Fau Shan in the NW) the seafood vendors can probably even recommend the best way to enjoy the seasonal catches, as some come from a family line of fishermen.

                              Not everything is meant to be steamed even if really fresh. In the case of really big fish like Cabazon, a 4 to 5 pound perch, or those big rock cods, are best suited for multiple purposes. The head and tail can be served in a quick soup with tofu and preserved/century egg mini slices, and the body stir fried with vegetables (usually mustard greens), or the body can be put into a claypot with say, fermented bean paste, tofu cubes, roast pork belly, garlic, mushrooms, scallion.

                              Whether Koi Palace, Sea Harbor, even in California you can ask waitstaff or the manager for any out of the ordinary preps they might recommend. For example, geoduck doesn't have to be sashimi all the can have it steamed, stir fried....and the non sashimi part can be made into a soup, or salt pepper fried. Certain fish heads don't have to be steamed along with the can have it stir fried/deep fried with soy sauce supreme and it's as tasty as eating the fried skeleton of an aji like at sushi restaurants. Sometimes you'd be amazed at what gets recommended that can be quite interesting and worth the try.

                              1. re: K K

                                i filet salmon heads (they used to be only $.75 each at the hows in san gabriel - i don't mind telling you now because they stopped *sigh sob*) into the collar piece, fins, and half heads and either broil or pan fry them on both sides to crisp them up. and take advantage of all that head fat. at $.75 each, what a meal!

                                salmon head soup is also very good.

                                and i've had geoduck and abalone (usually past its prime) minced, deep fried with spicy salt as a sushi appetizer. it was quite tasty.

                          2. re: barryc

                            what raises the bar in HK is a few things:
                            1) the level of cooking and execution crushes anything here
                            2) you will also see alot of dishes you never would see here
                            3) availability of ingredients, alot of the seafood in HK is simply not available here. If you went to HK i think you'd be very surprised

                            alot of this is due to as you said there is simply more demand both in # of people plus money

                            cantonese food and chiu chow food relies on very fresh ingredients and should really be using what's good. If you ever go to HK, I'll send you a list of where to go and you'll realize how big the gap in quality and breathe is between the food here and there

                            1. re: Lau

                              i'm sure there's stuff in HK served that would never get past the FDA here. for example: snails and other shellfish caught in the US that aren't regulated can't be served.

                              1. re: barryc

                                its not just that, i think you would find the quality of the seafood to be generally very good; i find it generally alot better than the US.

                                From a breadth of dishes available too, i think some people have the idea that what is available here is most of what is available in HK and thats really not the case

                                this whole topic actually next time I go back to HK (im usually their once a year), im going to intentionally go to the seafood and higher end places and post it on my blog so that people can get a better sense for what im talking about bc its generally food that very few people on this board have had bc it simply doesnt exist here. there has been this ongoing debate on the NY board about exactly what high end chinese food is, id like to just show everyone

                                1. re: Lau

                                  i'd be interested in learning more about that.

                                  1. re: barryc

                                    yah it maybe a little while bc im not going in the near term, but i have this massive list of HK restaurants that i want to try (ive tried a decent amt of them), but im going to specifically go towards that type of food next time i go

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      I'll need that list tooo. :)

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        if u ever go to HK, go to my blog and you can email me from there...ill send it to u, its a little overwhelming for most people though who dont know HK that well bc its long

                                        on the flip side you can tell me what u want and ill give u some recs

                                        1. re: Lau

                                          hey lau I haven't requested because my asia trip got postponed... indefinitely.. was supposed to be right now, but may need to be a year from now. Sigh..

                                          1. re: blimpbinge

                                            whenever u go shoot me an email via my blog and then ill help u out

                              2. re: Lau

                                Yes list for HK please, will be in there for a few days next month. Planning to hit seafood joints hard.

                                1. re: Sgee

                                  go to my blog and send me an email and tell me what kind of stuff u want and ill tell u some places to go


                            2. easy:

                              Sea Harbour.

                              Unless someone already mentioned it.

                              1. I think Newport Tan Cang (518 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776) is quite good. I am not exactly sure what you mean by "HK-style," but I think this falls into that category.

                                The house lobster is peppery and delicious, and the ginger-scallion crab is good, too. Different branches of my family eat there frequently, and whenever we go they fill the table with tasty dishes - I don't know what all of the names are. But in a range of seafood (fish, clams, etc.), pork, veggie etc. dishes, pretty much everything has been good.

                                It is quite busy, though, so expect a wait at peak dinnertimes (at least on the weekend).

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: inthenameoffood

                                  Newport Tan Cang is more Chiu Chow (AKA Teochew) than Cantonese.

                                  Agree that I like it, though...

                                    1. re: J.L.

                                      Thought Seafood Village was more Chiu Chow ????????

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        allergic village would be more ah choo....

                                    2. re: inthenameoffood

                                      newport tan cang is billed as a chiu chow restaurant, but its a true mix of cantonese, chiu chow and viet influence and really is a mix; i actually wouldnt say its more chiu chow vs cantonese; alot of the preps are straight up cantonese

                                      its pretty damn delicious either way:

                                    3. Lest you think that people are ignoring your original question, Sea Harbour.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Chandavkl


                                        i've never been for dinner only dim sum. but i don't doubt that dinner would be pretty good.

                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                          haha good point...CH does tangent really badly (i'm totally guilty of it all the time)

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            to be fair, i was questioning the parameters of the request without meaning to belittle the request in any way, we can now give a more precise answer, which is that there really aren't any, but the best seafood places are the ones suggested.

                                            having said that, if it's about seafood and money is no object, that sushi place in the ESGV probably deserves a mention. the name of the place momentarily escapes me.