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First Bites: Capital Seafood in Arcadia


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First Bites: Capital Seafood in Arcadia

Will Owen | Nov 12, 2010 08:26 PM

This is I think a new one; just noticed it on my way to a medical appointment yesterday (Thursday) morning. It's on Huntington between Second and Fifth, just east of the Derby. Then Mrs. O and I went to a little gathering in Monrovia last night, and she suggested we check the place out for a bite afterwards.

It was far from packed, but it's a very sleek and elegant place in the Hong Kong style. Well-trained and friendly wait staff, napkins as thick as mover's blankets, but on the other hand they pile dirty dishes on an adjacent table instead of whisking them away immediately... still, the atmosphere was a good one. We had snacked a bit at the party, so wanted just a couple of complementary dishes. Mrs. O immediately noticed a Vietnamese favorite, the strangely-named "French-style Beef" (can someone please explain that?), and then the Pea Leaves in Garlic Sauce. We had been supplied with a bowl of shelled peanuts to nibble on, and some excellent tea - loose-leaf, not bagged - came shortly thereafter. The chopsticks, I was happy to see, were not the usual dreadful heavy, slippery plastic, but either laquered wood or a good facsimile, light and wieldy.

Okay, the food: it was better than our expectations. The beef made our previous favorite, that at Newport Seafood in San Gabriel, look like the cartoon version. That is yummy; this was beefy, rich, sweet, tangy, unctuous, compelling. Each morsel was a perfect bite of meat, even after we'd lingered and it had gotten cold. The pea leaves were also simply perfect, neither too tender nor at all stringy, lovely rich flavor and a sauce that avoided both runny and gooey extremes.

The dessert, unannounced and complimentary, was a good-sized cup of a Hong Kong-style tapioca liquid custard, with a burnt-sugar taste and color, some wiggly shreds of some kind of flavorless jelly, and a few very strange starchy bean-like objects that looked like miniature toy turnips. Except for these garnishes I found the thing quite nice - they could have just given me the custard and I'd have been happy. When we were in Hong Kong I discovered I just didn't get most Chinese desserts, and this was about 50% a confirmation of that, though sweet tofu in ginger syrup is something very much otherwise, hint, hint.

We appreciated the level of attention exercised both by the wait folks and the kitchen. This is a class act, and not hideously expensive: $30 plus tax and tip is maybe a bit high for two dishes in the SGV, but it was good stuff, better than average. On the one hand it is a chain, and it runs to a formula; on the other hand, you can get fried pig intestine as an appetizer. We got their (menu-only) dim sum menu for future reference, well-illustrated with three price levels clearly marked, and we will be checking out that part of their business pretty soon. So far we're impressed.

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