A full table of 16 hounds met at Seafood Harbor in Millbrae for an evening of great food, wine and company. The menu, planned by Bryan Loofbourrow and based on the lowest price set-menu for ten, was as follows:
**Special Assorted Appetizers (jelly fish, cold anise beef, pork shank, mock goose -- an upgrade over the BBQ Combination on the standard menu)
**Crispy Fried Milk with Crystal Prawns in Special Sauce
**Sauteed Fresh Squid and Scallops with Sugar Peas
**Conpoy (dried scallop) with Crabmeat Soup
**Peking Duck (upgrade from roast chicken on the standard menu)
**Mustard Greens with Bamboo Pith
**Salt & Pepper Crab
**Steamed Live Catfish w/ginger and green onion (upgrade from fried fish on the standard menu)
**Combination Fried Rice
**Dessert of the day (some kind of soupy tapioca)
I'd been to Seafood Harbor once before, when we scouted it for the Dim Sum Civil War. It was eliminated from that competition less on the basis of the food than on the fact that the service was so bad we couldn't *get* any food. The service was still weak last night (at one point we had to request that they hold some dishes rather than plunk more courses down on an already overloaded table), but the food ranked right up with the best.
I still haven't developed a taste for dried scallops, but everything else was delicious. In particular, everyone raved over the crab -- spicier and a little more thickly battered than R&G's version -- Melanie commented that the quality of the crab was surprisingly good for this time of year.
I thought the Peking Duck (served with buns) was the best I've ever had, with just the right ratio of crisp skin, fat and meat. The catfish was also exemplary, with a firm texture and nary a hint of muddiness. Even the fried rice -- which I usually just take a perfunctory bite of at the end of a long meal -- was so good I polished off my bowl; surprised praise was heard around the table.
Bryan negotiated a deal on the corkage, so we even came in under target: $36/person inclusive of tax and tip, plus we raised over $400 to support Chowhound.com.
Thanks to Melanie and Bryan for donating and leading the discussion on the wines -- a delicious and educational experience. I'll leave the serious wine discussion to others, but I think my favorite was the 1998 Basserman-Jordan Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Kabinett, with what to my mind was the perfect interplay of tart and sweet I look for in a Riesling.
It was great meeting some new hounds -- hope to see you at more events in the future!