The reviews for New Capital have been decidedly mixed (and are mainly about the dim sum). But PayOrPlay Jr. and I stumbled in there on Sunday evening and ended up having a small but very tasty and decidedly encouraging father-son dinner, despite some service glitches.
We were downtown at MOCA in the late afternoon, and PoPJr. said he was craving something porky. (I think this is because we'd been at a family event earlier in the day at a rather terrible Kosher pizza place in Hollywood.) We decided that instead of going for so-so Chinese in Chinatown we might as well take the extra time to head to San Gabriel. We thought we would go to Sam Woo BBQ but when we got there, he saw the line and he wanted to check out the other restaurants in the mall. We walked around both floors and finally made our way up to the restaurant. We'd been there for dim sum when it was Sam Woo Seafood (and he was very small), but it seemed somewhat nicer now. The menu was long and interesting (and accessible to us non-Chinese speakers, with clear albeit poorly spelled translations and lots of pictures) so we decided to give it a shot. We were seated very quickly, but the place was filling up and we waited a while for service and eventually had to flag down a manager. (Others have commented on the board that they don't seem to have enough help when they're full.)
My formerly-picky 6-year-old son picked out the following 2 dishes from the menu: "rost pork and oyster hot pot," and "chef's selection stir-fred coral clam with sonw peas" [sic, sic, sic]. We almost added an order of the fish balls (they looked great in the picture) but since it was just the two of us (and he's not yet 4 feet tall) we stopped at 2 dishes (plus rice): the manager gave us a look like we should order more.
Well, maybe we should have: next to us was a table of 3 adults who were served at least 8 different dishes including 2 lobsters served 2 different ways, while we waited, and many other tables seemed to be in a similar gorging mood. Many interesting and delicious-looking things passed by. The wait staff looked completely harried.
Our food did take a little while to arrive but when it came it was worth it. The clams were perfectly crunchy and flavorful, the "sonw peas" were outstandingly fresh and flavorful (maybe there was some extra sugar in this dish?) , and the hot pot was outstanding--the pork pieces were crispy and moist at the same time, the oysters succulent, the accompanying tofu chunks and cabbage also excellent. Of course, our rice never showed up, but we didn't really need it. We took home half of each dish (some of which went into his lunchbox today, the rest into my stomach!)
So, bottom line: food much better than expected, service problematical but not so much as to damage our experience. Duly noting that the dim sum reports have not been particularly enticing, we would definitely return for dinner with a bigger group and try a bunch of the live seafood along with more from the menu. (Duck kidneys with pine herbs hot pot, anyone?)
New Capital Seafood
140 W Valley Blvd Ste 212, San Gabriel, CA 91776
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