Thursday, July 28, 2011

NBC Seafood Restaurant

I met up with one of my best friends from high school, Zach, yesterday for a few beers. We had planned on doing something for dinner and we were running through the list of possibilities. I asked if there was another Chinese place he could recommend down in the Alhambra/Monterey Park area - we've been going to places like that for more than a decade.

"There's tons of them," he said, before searching through his phone for a place that I had not been. Finally he just decided to call his parents and ask their advice. It turned out they wanted to come with us, as did his sister, Jenny.

"Sweet," Zach said, "now we can try more dishes."

We swung by his parents' house to meet up with his family and we all headed down Atlantic Blvd to Monterey Park. We circled through the parking lot, as large as a football field, and parked in a corner.

It was busy inside but not overwhelmingly so. A band was playing; apparently they set up every Wednesday. We took our seats.

"Dude," Zach said, "you're the only white person in here."

The menu was large and I looked at all of it, but there was no doubt in my mind that I would not even be offering any suggestions; I would be deferring to whatever the rest of the table wanted to order. I watched several of the dishes go by and everything looked good. I figured the best idea was to let people order their favorite dishes and then pick off of those.

Well, I guess there was one thing I wanted to order: Tsingtao.

I was complimented.

We started with the chicken and sweet corn soup, one of the best versions I have ever had. It was boiling hot, the chicken was tender and the corn was as sweet as the grilled corn I'd cooked myself the night before.

The Chinese broccoli - someone suggested that we have a vegetable - was very good, although I had difficulty eating it with my chopsticks; it was slippery. I have had this before many times though this was the most flavorful version. There was some debate as to what the sauce was; all I cared about is that I enjoyed it.

The deep fried crispy chicken was as crispy-skinned as you will ever get but the underlying chicken was moist and flavorful. I normally would not have added the pepper salt but Zach suggested I give it a try and he was right, it brought out an additional depth of flavors.

A couple of years ago Jenny introduced me to the chow mein at Tasty Garden in Alhambra. I'd never been a fan of noodle dishes but I quite enjoyed it. This chow mein was even better and I had at least three helpings of it. It was nicely balanced; the sauce was muted and the crispy noodles did not dominate the rest of the flavors.

The beef with scallions was my second favorite dish of the evening - not too salty, tender beef, plenty of scallions. I have had enough similar dishes over the years to recognize when lousy beef is being used, and this was quality. As an added bonus, twice I bit into big slivers of ginger, one of my favorite flavors.

My favorite dish of the evening was the cod with sweet & sour sauce. Sure, the sauce was sweeter than I like, but the batter on the fish was light and crispy and the fish was cooked perfectly throughout. I could have eaten this whole order by myself.

Action shot number one: Zach finishing off the chicken.

Action shot number two: Jack finishing off the cod.

I've never liked oranges but I was slightly impressed as Zach demonstrated the technique his Chinese grandmother taught him for eating them, leaving almost nothing on the rind. 

It was a very fun meal at NBC Seafood. I left as full as I have been in months, if not years. I would be interested in returning some day for dim sum.


Banana Wonder said...

Wow what a menu! I have actually been here once - I was dating this Chinese attorney a few years ago and he brought me here for dinner. There was a wedding so they sat us in the back room and we had some fish dish. I do love the chinese broc but yeah, tricky to eat with chopsticks. I bet dim sum would be nosh worthy here. ... ps glad you didn't have any shark fin soup.

Bryce said...

I used to go there at least once a month when I was younger. The last time I was there was 2009 for my mom's 70th birthday.

Those trees of broccoli are, and will always be, a pain to hold with chopsticks. They have practically no give and the sauce makes them very slippery.

Michelle said...

What, no paper wrapped chicken?

Fritos and Foie Gras said...

That looks fantastic! It would definitely be worth going back for dim sum, which is (in my opinion) the pinnacle of all that is delicious in cantonese cooking.