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New Concept Fri. Night (long)


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Restaurants & Bars 6

New Concept Fri. Night (long)

BigLarry | Mar 28, 2005 02:01 PM

The buzz surrounding New Concept Chinese in Monterrey Park (culminating with last weeks Times Review) had become too much and I finally broke down and made a reservation for 5 for Friday night. Driving up from the OC on Friday night I was pleasantly surprised with the traffic and we arrived quite early at 7:30. The others in the party did not arrive until closer to 8 and we were left surveying the scene. I checked in with the girl seating people and tried to get a couple drinks while we waited. Somehow this request for two Tsing Tao's was lost in the language barrier between the hostess and myself as she wandered away mumbling something and we never got our drinks. Oh well, I could probably use to cut back anyway. But from the looks of everything the restaurant was jumping. There were a couple other parties waiting and every table in the restaurant was full. The other members of my party arrived and we were seated promptly, though I was slightly disappointed that they sat us in the small back room and not out in the main dining room. It was OK though as there was a big frosted glass wall seperating the small back room from the main dining room and the outlines of the action from the otherside was interesting to watch. The waiter saw that we had brought our own wine and promptly came over with wine glasses and uncorked the bottle. Unlike other restaurants in chinatown and monterrey park that I frequent, this one has a corkage fee...but what can you do? I guess it's a New Concept. We opened the menus and I was floored at the scope of it all. I didn't even know where to start. The pictures helped.....but I was at a loss. After a good 10 minutes of perusing the menus, I decided I was ready to order. As I was doing the ordering I summoned the waiter and began. I ordered a fish soup to start, clams in Japanese sake, fried fish balls with chinese broccoli, an oyster and taro and vermicelli hotpot, japanese eggplant, macao pork, a cod hot pot, and baby bok choy. I had ordered 5 of the dishes and the waiter told me it would be plenty, so I proceeded (to his dismay) to order three more. They brought out the clams and the fish soup first. The clams were very good. Perfectly cooked tasting very much of the sea in a light broth which was neither too sweet nor too pungent. A very pleasant starter. Nothing too special....but quite good. The fish soup was next and was very good. It was full of vermicelli and fish in a rich and creamy broth tasting heavily of mushrooms. It could have used more fish (bigger chunks) but the flavor it brought to your mouth was impressive. Different than most chinese soups i have eaten. The fish balls with chinese broccoli were good. The menu description said 'deep fried' but i don't think they were deep fried...more like pan fried. They were tasty, just your basic fish ball, but the chinese broccoli was served with the stems cut into coins (the leafy green was not served) and it had been stir fried with garlic. The japanese eggplane came out on a sizzling platter on a bed of onions (not unlike fajitas). The picture and description were again deceiving because it turned out to be a japanese eggplant split lengthwise and then each half was then set over an identical length of what i thought was fishball, and then cooked and sauced up. It was quite interesting and very good. The sauce was vinegary which was nice and my only complaint would be the contrast in textures between the soft eggplant and the rubbery fishball. The macau pork was quite good. Sweet and fatty and crispy, just how i like it. It was served with a sweet dipping sauce (hoisin based) and a bowl of sugar. I enjoyed popping the pieces into my mouth plain. They didn't give us a ton of the pork, but it was very good. The oyster and taro and vermicelli hotpot was very good as well. The huge oysters and the taro were both great and it all went well together in a nice rich broth. The last two dishes we received were the cod and the bok choy. The cod was wonderful. Chunks of flavorful cod in a sweet and tangy sauce....very very good. A tad bit hard to eat with all the bones...but a very solid dish. The bok choy was good too. That concluded the the waiters excitement we finished every one of the dishes. We turned down dessert and then they brought out for everyone a dessert that consisted of a gelatinous coconut? flavored mold that contained mashed taro on the inside sitting in a coconut? broth. It was very good as well. The total for all of this including tax tip and corkage was approximately $160. As for the New Concept I liked it a lot. The menu would definitely take some time to explore...but I will be back. As for comparing it to the old stand by's like Ocean Star and ABC, I think I prefer Ocean Star and ABC. There's just nothing like that sauced up, greasy seafood to get me going. But I am definitely a fan of New Concept.

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