Hi Folks, I went to the Red Lantern, a new Thai / Japanese / Chinese / Korean fusion restaurant on 5801 Geary Blvd. It has been open for a few weeks.
So it is the fusion restaurant with heavy emphasis on Chinese with various Chinese styles represented --- indeed everyone at the restaurants speaks both Cantonese and nearly perfect English.
I walked in with the Mrs. The restaurant was being patronized by 50% non Asian and 50% Asian.
Sounds like this is going to be a disaster right?
Sounds like this is going to be a miserable experience right?
Sounds like wasted calories right?
We ordered the Big Mama fried rice - 大肚婆炒飯, some baked quails, and the 葡萄酒炸魚 (Grape Sauce/Wine Fried Fish).
The fried rice was good, nothing spectacular. The quail were not bad, but again, nothing I would would make the trek from the Sunset (where I live) to the Richmond to eat.
BUT OH MY GOODNESS THE FISH.
Now, one must put this in context. I write this with not a small feeling of shame.
I grew up in a Cantonese family. Steamed seafood was king. The fact that my Cantonese upbringing was actually in the midwest of the USA in the 1970s with no access to fresh seafood made steamed fresh seafood the epitome of the holy grail.
Fresh, live steamed seafood was the unattainable --- the unobtainable --- the holy grail. My family thought nothing of driving 5 hrs to Canada *just for the weekend* just to eat live fresh seafood and crash at a motel 6.
So now that I'm an adult and have moved to SF and as well, moved my folks over here ---- razor clams, queen clams, live fish, live spot prawns, geoduck etc etc.... we spend our weekends hoovering up the fruits of the sea whether or not we are at an establishment like Koi Palace or just cooking it at home.
So I risk ex-communication from my Cantonese family when I say ---
THIS FISH AT RED LANTERN IS DELICIOUS.
This fish is fried and it has a sweet sauce all over it. I think it is a fillet of fish, cut up as if it were a mango peel and flipped out. Very similar to the Jiang Nan dish of 糖醋魚 --- the fried coating is crispy, light, and not oily. The fish is cut in chunks and flipped out is such a way that it exposes a maximum surface area of the fish to the fried light batter. No bones --- so it is not authentic in the sense that your get the whole fish. Convenience! The sauce --- perhaps a bit too sweet and not enough complexity -- not enough vinegar taste --- but as a package it just works ---- and I was so busy hoovering it up that the picture I am using is one from the "y" website because while I took a picture of the other dishes, I forgot to take a picture of the fish, my favorite part of the meal by far.
So, in sum, if you come to the restaurant, eat the fish. Don't expect razor-sharp-authenticity or an exact replica of糖醋魚. But, this is good and delicious food if you can appreciate it for what it is. I will need to be careful not to eat this every week and put on weight. :-)