Whenever you go to a restaurant and the word "seafood" is part of its name, the expectations are pretty high. Unfortunately, things fell a little short when it came to a few of the seafood offerings at Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant while one non seafood dish really got my attention in a very good way.
A group of us from my dining group shared a total of 8 dishes starting with the Braided Crab Meat and Fish Maw Soup. Unfortunately, this is one dish I wouldn't order again. It was completely bland. The addition of soy sauce and some chili paste was definitely needed to add some flavor, but even then, it wasn't an appealing dish. Also, it felt as if corn starch was used to thicken the soup and too much of it, which made the texture a little unpalatable.
On the other hand, the House Lobster was not only a thing of beauty and looked quite impressive on the plate it arrived in, it was absolutely delicious. The flavors of the lobster took on a lot of garlic and onion notes as well as a lot of other fantastic spices, but the meat itself was also quite succulent. What I also appreciated was that the Lobster was already cut up in pieces and the claws cracked for easy access to the meat.
The French Style Beef Loc Lac that followed the Lobster was a dish I'd expect to see more in a Cambodian or Vietnamese restaurant, but thank goodness, it was a part of this meal. The beef, which I think was cooked with soy sauce, black pepper and some kind of tart citrus, really made my taste buds happy. The beef was also amazingly tender which is definitely a reason why this dish is a must order.
When it came to the House Special Trout, the presentation was something to behold. The fish was twisted this way and that way and looked like a piece of art. I enjoyed the crispy skin and mild and delicate fish meat. Unfortunately, I found the sauce a tad too sweet and hard to avoid since the entire fish was drenched with it. There's something to be said sometimes for ordering food with sauce on the side.
The next to arrive were the Clams with Spicy Basil Sauce. It was nice to see that the clams were actually a pretty good size and even more importantly, all the shells actually had clam meat in them, which isn't always the case in my seafood dining experience. Other than the clams being a tad too chewy and the sauce needing to be more spicy, this dish wasn't bad.
Our final three dishes weren't that exciting. The Kung Pao Chicken lacked even a little bit of heat while Vegetable Deluxe was absolutely tasteless. At least the Salt and Pepper Pork Chops were seasoned well and I liked the jerky, chewy texture of the pork meat itself.
Overall, my meal at Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant was uneventful with a couple of really high notes in the House Lobster and the Beef Loc Lac. Considering that this has only been my first visit and we tried only 8 dishes, I would need to come back a couple more times to get a better feel for their food. However, because of this one first impression, I don't feel the desire to make a repeat visit any time soon.
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
518 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
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