Claypot can put together a great banquet if you balance your order well. Most dishes are hits, especially soups and cold dishes.

Shredded tofu and cilantro is among the best dishes; it has just a hint of heat in the tofu dressing that really brightens the dish, says vliang. Five-spice crispy duck is both savory and aromatic. Shredded fish and spinach soup has a subtle flavoring and very soft fish meat. It nails just the right proportion of spinachy flavor–enough to please Popeye but not so much to turn off spinaphobes, says Eugene Park. Nice hit of white pepper in the soup, too. Lion’s Head meatballs are dense, coarsely chopped, and flavored with lots of ginger and light on the five spice/anise.

Other dishes, like sauteed eel, braised pork, and drunken chicken, are a disappointment because sauces are too similar and quite sweet. Order them separately, and only get one per meal. Skip Squirrel Mandarin fish–the head has too little meat, and the fried preparation would work better with black sea bass.

All in all, you can get very good food with unhurried service. A recent meal of around ten pre-ordered dishes cost $25/person including tax and tip.

Clay Pot Seafood House [East Bay]
809 San Pablo Ave., Albany

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