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Restaurants & Bars 2

Chinatown Live Seafood Hijinks

corydon | Jun 13, 200306:11 PM

I think I may need a primer here from the live seafood pros.

I have tried to get a simple meal of steamed tilapia from the live tank, with soup and side of chinese broccoli for several weeks in a row. I cannot remember the names of all the places I have tried but the fish has been a big letdown each and every time.

Last night I tried CBS in Chinatown. The server gives us a quote on the the fish ('10 bucks per piece' and 'I will pick you a big fish'). I am sheepish because it would not be the first time that a server in Chinatown has used an exaggerated accent to create ambiguity and upsell a dish (a favorite example is a regular waiter at Sam Woo who always repeats back 'Wor Won Ton' when one orders regular Won Ton soup - this is of course a more pricey, and less tasty soup at this restaurant). My suspicion, even after grilling the waiter about the fish before placing the order, is confirmed when the 10 dollar fish is delivered and consists of 6 very small bites of very mushy and oversauced stuff.

As soon as the fish was delivered, the waiter avoided our table.

I swear by my fish cheeks I am not a problem customer ANYWHERE ELSE but I am starting to get damn paranoid eating fish in Chinatown.

Any good tips on where to go and how to order live seafood in Chinatown as both a savvy consumer and smiling happy chowhound?

No, I do not want to drive to Valley Blvd. at 6 PM on a weekday. Yes, I know it's the best live seafood around. Chinatown must have something at least respectable. A steamed tilapia is not a premium ingredient cooked with an elaborate preparation. It is a cheap fresh fish prepared simply.

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