3711 No. 3 Road
It was another great Chowdown - not all the food was fantastic, but everyone could clearly see why Sea Harbour is considered one of the top Chinese restaurants in Vancouver. We were all very well fed for about $30 per person....but it could have very easily been much much more.
Clearly this is a restaurant where fresh (and expensive) seafood is the focus. The very daunting tome of a menu listed individual dishes that can be had at nearly $100 per person (...this is per dish - items like abalone, and sharksfin and other seafood exotica). It would be very easy to have a meal here that would blow out the budget of even the most well-heeled fine diner.
I had heard that this restuarant is related to Sea Harbour in the Los Angeles area (the heavily Chinese ethno-burb of Rosemead to be precise: http://www.seaharbour.com/). I called today to confirm this tidbit as fact.
Going back to our dinner last night...we ordered some non-seafood dishes that didn't rise up to the level of the seafood dishes that we had. A couple of the dishes like the Lotus Root with XO sauce (chewy pork and the XO didn't appeal to some of us), and the Salt-baked ("Hand Shredded") Chicken (chewy chicken, but flavourful...and very good oil and salt dipping sauce) were examples.
The dishes were not bad...actually, they were good and well executed, but they just didn't do it for some of us due to personal preferences and other reasons. Certain dishes didn't make it to the "favoured" list because of seafood allergies. Of note are the Geoduck dish, the Fried Oysters, and the Crab Hotpot.
The two stars of the evening were definitely their famous Dungeness Crab with Kabocha Hotpot, and the Steamed Live Rock Cod. Both items were impeccably fresh - and actually living mere minutes prior to their service. The Hotpot was sauced with a flavourful and balanced blackbean and soya concoction. It would be very good with white rice (had we had any). Crab is always a messy eat....so we had our messy moments of flying crab parts. The Rock Cod was executed with restraint - the sauce was subtle so as not to mask the freshness of the fish.
All the dishes tasted clean and the flavours were quite distinct - hallmarks of good Cantonese cooking.
We had decided to order in a round robin fashion and ultimately, I think that ordering a set banquet might have provided us with better results (it would also be easy enough to customize the banquet menu if your group desires).
Otherwise, I believe that the appropriate strategy here at Sea Harbour is to play to their strength: Seafood. Order as much seafood as your budget can handle and augment it with some items from the Seasonal Menu and some of their smoked specialties (I really like their tea-smoked duck here, for example). The often have dishes with western influences that would be an interesting order (they have a Scallop and Foie Gras listed as Scallop and Goose Liver, for example).
I don't think it is even necessary to order a separate vegetable dish because the seafood dishes were well appointed in this regard. (The vegetable dish we did order was very good - Lotus Root with Ginko Nut - everything taste fresh). There are quite a number of dishes that need to be pre-ordered - so it is a good idea to peruse the menu in advance.
The service here is top-notch - napkins were unfolded individually by the waiter and the the managers and waitstaff came to check on us regularly but unobtrusively. We were given tea and complementary jelly desserts. The ambiance is typical of a high-end Chinese restaurant - bright lighting and comfortable acoustics. All the tables were banquet sized and there is a sectionable area on the North side of the room for larger parties.
We were all a little surprised to have paid a seemingly paltry $30 per person last night considering the sheer amount of food and level of quality. They also serve high-quality dim sum here during lunch.