Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Green Island Restaurant Update

Photobucket
(Grand opening? NOT. But it is the only photo now I have of the exterior)

If you have read my blog from the start, you probably will know that I really like the restaurant Green Island. But, my postings on it abruptly stopped at February 1 with my Chinese New Year Post on Green Island. Why the sudden stop in posts (especially when I said going to Green Island has almost become a "tradition")? Well, Green Island changed with their business practices. And I had less items to take pictures of as I basically covered the entire menu that I liked.

In between the months of the postings, Green Island became a bit more stingy around March-June. They were more strict with their rules (no more free drinks and refills), and also the lunch specials were not available on the weekend anymore. With the local competition around, there certainly were better choices and deals. Routinely we did go to Green Island, but not very frequently.

However, by June, menus and prices changed at Green Island. A larger variety of items were on offer on the lunch menu, prices dropped, and new menus finally came out! And so, below is a compilation of 5 visits. Time for an update most certainly.

But first things first. Look at the new menus!

(UPDATE: March 18, 2010: There is now another new menu with more choices. The Watercress dish is now 6.99)

Lunch-Menu

The lunch menu is available all week now and is separated into prices of 5.99, 6.99, 7.49, and 8.49 USD per entree, and there are more items available in the lunch menu, like the oxtail with lily root and the sizzling prime ribeye fried rice. In addition, drinks at 1.00 per drink, but you get unlimited refills! I feel this is a improvement, as now there are plenty of cheaper menu items, and plus you do not need to pay for a drink if you do not want it (before it was included in the lunch menu prices). Also, the discounted drinks price is slightly less compared to other places that have discounted lunch drinks. Free rice still comes though with each entree and we are very happy about the rice. Normally rice is really nothing special, but at Green Island their steamed rice is just like freshly steamed rice. The rice is not clumpy; instead it is fluffy and cooked with just the right amount of water, and you can smell the fragrance of rice when they place the rice onto the table. Green Island's rice is probably the best steamed rice that we have had at a restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley!

Menus- Daily Special and New Entrees

The Daily Special Entrees and the New Entrees Recommendations placard menu has even more selections, as well as great discounts. We especially follow up on the Daily Special Entrees- these dishes are an excellent deal for the price and are discounted by approximately 37.5/40 percent which is a large margin. You do get free rice along with each entree too.

Now I shall start out on pictures of food with two dinner visits from June:

Turnip Scrambled Egg

As an appetizer we ordered their turnip scrambled eggs (2.99 USD) which we ended up being very disappointed at. Everything was pretty good with this dish- there were plenty of green onions and turnips. However, there was not enough egg. This omelet (well, it doesn't look like scrambled eggs does it?) was extremely thin, not thick. Thus, the flavors of the egg did not shine. Plus the price was just way too expensive for what we got-making the dish probably cost at most 75 cents. Make this at home please! Unless you don't mind the expensive price for what you are getting.

Spareribs

We also ordered some House Special Spare Ribs (8.99 USD) to try out. However, although the ingredients were fresh and of high quality, the flavor was lacking to our tastes. The sauce basically tasted like the sauces from dishes like the black pork belly with tofu, but instead of being very thin, the sauce became a glaze to the spareribs. In addition, the spareribs had tons of bones, and not enough meat to our liking.

Curry Chicken

Another dish we had that changed was the Curry Chicken, which was the daily special during a visit. So, the price went down to 4.99USD instead of 7.99USD, which made my party want to order the dish as it was a good deal. However, the Curry Chicken changed. Previously, we had good experiences with the dish. The portion size was large (served in their stone pots), and the chicken had bones in it. This new Curry Chicken missed out on both of these points. The chicken was now breast meat which was ULTRA tender to the point that we felt like they had added extra ingredients into the chicken, and plus, the stone pot was now gone. Other than these two mishaps, everything else was delicious in the dish- the curry sauce was like our previous experiences (where we liked the curry sauce and poured it on heavily onto rice), and there were plenty of pieces of the fried potato as before.

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Am I now making Green Island sound AWFUL? Well, the rest of this review will be much more positive. After all, the rest of the dishes now are from lunch which we were all happy about:

Oxtails with Lotus Root

Our new favorite dish at Green Island is the oxtail with lily root (7.49 USD during lunch). We pretty much now order this dish every time we visit Green Island. The ingredients and flavors are spot on. There are plenty of pieces of braised oxtail which still retain their meaty flavor, as well as slightly crunchy and thick pieces of lily root. What makes this dish though is the sauce, which has flavors from the oxtail as well as plenty of salty and sweet flavors. Luckily, there is plenty of the sauce; as we love to pour it onto our rice (along with the tender stewed peanuts as you see in the photo) and eat it just like that!

Braised Duck with Taro

We still like the braised duck with taro (6.99 USD), which has actually increased in portion size (YAY!). In the dish are plenty of pieces of duck (which are roasted at first), as well as a bed of chunks of taro. The sauce is great to scoop onto rice (again), and the taro is so tender that it almost becomes into a paste when it enters your mouth. Only problem we have encountered is that we constantly see the duck sitting out in the kitchen wrapped in plastic. No good thoughts there! And this made pieces of the duck we had on our most recent visit metallic colored; that is, oxidation on the meat. Yuck. The only other place I have seen metallic looking meat is at my previous school's Subway sandwiches.

Black Pork Belly Tofu Pot

There are though an variety of dishes that we have never had problems with. Like this Black Pork Belly Tofu Pot which only goes for 4.99USD on Tuesday. It may be a simple dish with crisp broccoli, green onions, fatty pieces of pork belly, shitake mushrooms, and silky pieces of browned tofu, but the flavor combination works. Slightly spicy and doused with a bit of the savory and sweet sauce, it is yet another dish we order every Tuesday we visit here. After all, it is an offer that is too good to pass off on.

Bittermelon with Spareribs

A item which we like from the New Recommendations Menu is the Spareribs with Baisan Pear (a.k.a. Bittermelon/Wintermelon in receipt and supermarkets) and Black Bean Sauce. Unlike the House Special Spareribs, this dish is not as bland to our tastes, as there is a good dosage of black bean sauce and a slight bitterness from the bittermelon (which actually was to our surprise as it was a muted bitterness instead of immediately bitter after chomping on it). In addition, there are plenty of green onions to add more fragrance to the dish. These ingredients together are a great flavor combination with the spareribs.

Garlic Spinach

Every meal should always have some type of vegetable, and with that said, there are plenty of vegetable entrees at Green Island. For simplicity, we like the sauteed spinach with garlic sauce (5.99 USD), which is a popular and simple way to cook spinach in Chinese restaurants. The spinach Green Island uses is different than other restaurants; the stems are pencil thin and smooth, not large and rough. Serving size is okay and is comparable to other restaurants in the SGV.

Watercress with Fishcake and Broth

What we actually order most though now on our visits is the Watercress with Broth and Fishcake (5.99). Discovered purely on accident and not on the lunch menu, this dish is one of the real bargain dishes and gives a great bang for the buck. The serving size, as you can see, is larger compared to the spinach with garlic sauce; they serve this in the same pot as the braised duck with taro. Furthermore, the dish has three components- plenty of broth (which you can slurp as soup), bouncy and tender pieces of fishcake which also have some cilantro and seaweed in them, and most importantly, a mound of slightly crisp and tightly packed watercress. All three components are delicious- the broth has the flavors from the watercress cooked in it and is slightly salty, the fishcake is just like the other fishcakes I have reviewed on Green Island (they are the same), and the watercress is fresh and not stringy or tough to eat. Green Island's Watercress with Broth and Fishcake is a great deal for what it offers- other places sell this dish for 9 plus dollars. Going back to this dish, we thought it cost 9 dollars. But looking at the receipt, it was actually only 5.99. Who said vegetables were extremely overpriced at restaurants? With all the cooking and material cost it comes pretty close compared to other restaurants (like Peatips for 16 dollars!?!)

Rice Noodles

Now that you have seen plenty of entrees and vegetables, we should also talk a bit more about some starches. Not that there is not enough- after all a plate of rice comes with every entree during lunch! You probably have seen this dish- the pan fried vermicelli with fishcake (5.99 USD) if you have read my previous posts on Green Island (specifically, this one). There are a some differences though if you look at the photos. First of all, the serving size has gotten larger (again), which is great with the current economy. Giving customers a good deal is what drives customers to come back to visit! Secondly, the noodles have a browner tinge to them compared to before. All positive things- the noodles are more flavorful as they have soaked up the sauce, and the bean sprouts, green onions, fishcake strips, and mushrooms add extra flavor to the vermicelli. Still a great dish after half a year!

Prime Beef Fried Rice

Green Island's Sizzling Prime Ribeye Fried Rice (8.49 USD) is still as good as before. It has drawn so much attention that even other restaurants, like Garden Cafe, have tried to IMITATE the dish. Hands down though, Green Island beats the competitors with a flavor combination that works, higher quality ingredients, and pronounced flavors. A taste comparison and you will definitely see the difference! Garden Cafe's server said their version would beat Green Island's; instead it was the opposite. Garden Cafe's version tasted worse than Yoshinoya (not that Yoshinoya is bad, but their serving sizes have decreased significantly!), and didn't have a distinctive flavor from the dish. Play it safe and try out Green Island's version first. After all, it is a dollar fifty cheaper during lunch :).

Overall? Lunch is becoming the best time to visit Green Island. Now that Green Island has updated their menus to offer more items to be discounted at lunch, there are more options to choose from for the more budget conscious consumer. Not only that, the serving sizes have increased, which is unusual in a sector where we are seeing a decrease in portion size and increase on the price you pay. All for the better. We'll be back and if we do get to try more of the new items or if they do something new, I will write a new post when I have the time. School is starting again and vacation is just almost over, and the backlog has grown to 35+ posts! :)

Green Island
9556 Las Tunas Drive
Temple City,CA 91780
626-286-6788

Green Island Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls with Sweet Potato and Ginger Sweet Soup

What is perfect as a dessert for any meal during a cold frigid day is this: Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls with Sweet Potato and Ginger Sweet Soup. Simple, easy to make, but the results are great!

Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls with Sweet Potato and Ginger Sweet Soup

Soothing, sweet, warm, and most certainly, delicious. The sweet sesame filling combined with the chewy glutinous rice exterior along with the sweet potato ginger soup was a great combination of flavors. Perfect for any frigid day! Especially with the ginger :). The ginger warms your body up and is refreshing.

Anyway, I never actually meant to post this at all as it involves a frozen product integral to making the dessert possible (unless if you make the glutinous rice balls yourself (recipe here at Chow Times). But, when I was looking at Wandering Chopstick's blog and noticed the GINGER was the new ingredient of the month for Weekend Wokking, a monthly food blogging event created by her to bring together people's creations which feature the specific ingredient of the month, I knew I needed to post something for this month; I had several ginger dishes on the queue, and also I wanted to join a food blog event.

Most certainly I had other choices to post other than this dessert. Like my new version of Miso Seabass which involved a ginger topping to create more flavor. But the result of the dish for the first time did not look at all appetizing. So, this dessert got the pick!

Here is the recipe so you can make it tonight :).

Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls with Sweet Potato and Ginger Sweet Soup

Serves 3-4 depending on serving size

Ingredients:

Example of Frozen Sesame Glutinous Rice Ball

15-20 Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls (Personally I like Spring Home or Twin Dragon; take two packages of 10 (with Spring Home) or one package of 15 (Twin Dragon)

6 cups of water

10 pieces of sliced ginger, or about a tablespoon's worth of grated ginger (your pick- if you have the time though grated ginger disperses the ginger flavor further into the dish)

Brown Candy

3/4th of a piece of Brown Candy (see above photo) (substitute with 1/4 cup light brown sugar, cane sugar, or raw sugar if you do not have it)
1 baked sweet potato

Directions:

1. On the day you plan on making the dish (or before- just leave the finished sweet potato in the fridge), cook the sweet potato in the oven (preferably a small oven so you do not waste energy) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pluck a few holes with a fork if you want, but we just leave the sweet potato as is when we put it in the oven. When you see caramel color coming out from the sweet potato, turn the oven off, and leave the sweet potato in until you decide to make the dessert. Before starting the rest of the dessert, peel off the skin and cube the sweet potato into pieces (you decide the shape and size).

2. Take a pot and fill it up with the 6 cups of water, and then bring the water to a boil. Place the piece of brown candy as well as the ginger into the water when bringing the water to a boil.

3. When the water with the ginger and candy is boiling, take the glutinous rice balls and cook them until they float and look slightly translucent in the middle- enough so that you can start to see the sesame filling. They should look slightly shiny at this point. If they look dull and are about to pop, you have overcooked them, but do not worry; they will still taste good!

4. Place the sweet potatoes in and make sure they are warm, and then immediately serve.

5. Enjoy!

Variation: Make this dessert with simple plain glutinous rice balls with no filling, or mix these two types for a sweet potato and ginger dessert soup filled with tons of rice balls! Or, take out the sweet potato if you do not have it with you. Any way, it tastes scrumptious :).

And obviously:

Weekend WokkingI'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks to celebrate the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient. The host this month is Mom Gateway. If you would like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check who's hosting next month.



Other variations on glutinous rice ball dishes that I have eaten:
Sesame Rice Balls with Walnut Sweet Soup (at Green Island)

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Mini Celebration: This is the 126th post of the year (same as the number for my Tripadvisor Account) and is the 130th post of the whole entire blog.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Copyright and Attribution Tips

All content (unless otherwise credited) are copyright Wilson Lin. My work is protected under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) of 1998.

If you are a commercial entity desiring to use my content you  need to first obtain a licensing agreement from me. Please contact me for pricing information at this email address: eattraveleat (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you do not fit into the criteria above but still would like to use my content, please contact me also at eattraveleat (at) gmail (dot) com. I am very content to allow you to use my work for non-profit use, but please contact me first for written permission.

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Attribution tips:

Many people take work without citing their source-- essentially proclaiming work that is not theirs is theirs. This video (here) for example had pictures of the Island Shangri-La from Tripadvisor (including my own that I uploaded onto Tripadvisor) which were used without permission; as a result it has been removed. Taking someone else's work and treating it as if is yours without their permission is essentially breaking copyright laws (with some exceptions made for education purposes only). If you happen to know nothing about attribution or copyright though, below are some of my attribution tips. Remember, please get my written permission before using my work. Thank you!

For Photos:
Take this as an example to base off of:

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Lunch Gelato
"Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Lunch Frozen Treats" by Wilson Lin, from the post "cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong: Introduction"

Some also credit like this (also fine):

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Lunch Gelato

The link to flickr which is in the picture's HTML code must be retained, and the link to my blog would be greatly appreciated!

For Text:
A. If you are writing a paper (scholarly work), use my content as necessary with in text citations like the format instructs you to do so (example MLA format).

You may also need a Works Cited page in the paper for which you cite all the sources that you have used- follow the format's instructions as to how to cite one of my posts or the website. Here is a example as to how to cite one of my posts for a Works Cited page (this is MLA format, with my real name for your citation needs):

Lin, Wilson. "Cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong: Introduction." Eat. Travel. Eat!. Blogger, 7 Apr. 2011. Web. (Date of Access).

B. Writing online, please link somewhere in the sentence to Eat. Travel. Eat! and preferably also to the post being referenced. Example:

Wilson Lin of Eat. Travel. Eat! says that "there is also freshly whipped cream, powdered sugar, and pancake syrup along with other condiments that go along well with pancakes and waffles available at cafe TOO in Island Shangri-La."

For Videos:
I highly suggest not using my videos for any usage but if you do so, you may only use an excerpt or part of the video, and no more than 1/3 of the video at once. When making the video you may not alter the sound or image quality. Please also remember to credit the creator of the video.

Simply just linking (no putting photos/text/video)?
Well then, when you are linking, please link to the homepage of Eat. Travel. Eat! and to the article you are referencing. That way you not only help your viewers understand what you want to say about what I have.


For example:

Wilson Lin did a review on The Clubhouse at Costa Mesa recently which I highly suggest reading.

or (for the Purdue Online Writing Lab)

I highly recommend using the website The Purdue Online Writing Lab as it has plenty of information on citations and ways to improve on writing.

If you have any additional questions or are confused by any part of this post, please contact me at eattraveleat (at) gmail (dot) com. I will be happy to reply to you as soon as possible!

And as a side note, if you are using my content for educational, non-commercial purposes (e.g. class presentation in class using my information as background), I will allow. (Education for most circumstances can override copyright laws)  I would like to know however that you are using my content though, so that I will not be surprised to see it if I happen to find it on web. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dim Sum at Full House Seafood Restaurant

Exterior

Months ago, I posted a review on Hop Li's dim sum, which was a bit too, well, overly positive. We were lucky at that time- we had good seats, and the food appeared to be fantastically photogenic. Now... it isn't that beautiful, but the food is still pretty good. But a competitor has now responded to Hop Li.

That is, Full House. It is not because I have not visited Full House. In fact, my dining companions and I go to Full House more often than any other place; it is our choice to go to for dim sum. I usually do not get to visit dim sum places during the school year (with the exception of minimum days, and rarely on the weekends), so if there is a dim sum place to try, it will definitely taste awesome to me. Hop Li was the "awesome" for the few months, but now I have gotten to try out Full House again. And they have done much to give back some competition to the dim sum scene in Arcadia.

Dim Sum Pricing @ Full House
The BIG response.

After a month where Hop Li had their 1.38 USD specials for the weekday, Full House responded, lowering their already low price (well, what used to be) of 1.98 to 1.58 USD. Still 20 cents more than Hop Li. However, on the holidays and weekends, Full House now is cheaper than Hop Li with the rate of 1.98 per plate.

We go to Full House now often. So often in fact that one of our friends was amazed that we go there at least once a week. Hop Li...not so much. About once in two weeks. But why?

Two reasons. First is the service. The Full House employees recognize us and are enthusiastic to serve us, unlike Hop Li where there only seems to be one very friendly employee. None of the higher level staff are angry at Full House (or they at least hide their anger), unlike Hop Li where the manager went (in front of our face) saying," AI YAH! This is so annoying! Why do you have to make me do it (not the busboys)?" (In Cantonese- this was because we asked him to add some water to our tea pot as no one was coming to add water even though we signaled them for about 5 minutes). Dim sum carts come frequently at Full House, not sporadically at Hop Li now. All makes sense to pay the 20 more cents per plate during the weekdays. The restaurant scene is much more friendly and lively. We support the better.

Food is the next reason. And there are plenty of dishes to try out. Quite a wide variety. Full House has the advantage of their BBQ department, which allows them to serve items like suckling pig, char-siu, peking duck, and other plates.

Full-House-Steamed-Items

What we like to start out every dim sum visit is with some items from the steamed cart. Besides, they always come near us right when we sit down. Since there are multiple items, I will list and explain:

Top 4, clockwise from the top left:

1. Fishballs: Three large fishballs on a bed of peas which is a bit mushy. The fishballs are very soft and tender and have cilantro and some dried shrimp in them. We don't order this too often; after all there are so many other items in the menu.

2. Steamed Spareribs: Basically a plate of steamed spareribs which also have some fermented black beans with them. This is pretty oily so we don't like it that much. Plus, we make this dish at home often...so ordering it outside doesn't impress us!

3. Steamed Char Siu Buns: One of our favorites. The bread is very soft and fluffy (unlike my mantou, which I have still been altering so that it can become like this), and the filling has plenty of char siu. Not too sweet and not too much extra juice in the filling, so it is great! Plus the char-siu is fresh and not dry.

4. Braised and Fried Bean Curd Rolls: Again, this is another oily dish but the flavors and textures are pretty nice. This one had a bit of meat filling and some vegetables including bamboo shoots and wood ear. The bean curd skins were slightly crisp on the sides and tender. For the photo, we did ask them to cut them in half, but usually they will ask you first if you want them cut. Cutting is your choice.

And lastly, the large picture of the bottom of the top photo is the siu mai, which we order every time (well, almost every time). Stuffed with a large shrimp and chunks of pork, along with a topping of roe (not in this photo but they do put some on usually), this is a flavor sensation bursting with flavors. Dip with some of their chili sauce and mustard if you want, but I do not feel the need. They are large enough to be eaten in two large bites. Yum.

Full-House-Buns

Their buns are also a great deal too and are great for eating in the restaurant as well as for lunches. Again, going clockwise from the top left:

1. Pan Fried Buns: Slightly crisp on the outside and inside is a meat, shrimp, and veggie filling. Outside is the soft and fluffy bread which I am still trying to replicate.

2. Snow Mountain Buns (Taro Buns): These have a sweet bread on the outside and have a sugar top to them. Inside is some taro paste which is very smooth and slightly sweet- not too milky or sugary.

3. Hot Dog Buns: We do not order this often but Full House does offer a nice rendition. The hot dogs are firm and slightly juicy, while the bread is sweet, soft, and delicious.

4. Baked Cha-Siu Buns: Another favorite of ours. The char-siu filling is a bit saltier compared to the the steamed variety to compensate with the sweet bread which is used also in the hot dog buns, which is thick, fluffy, and soft.

Full-House-Plate-Cart-items

Full House also offers plenty of dishes which are handed out either by hand or on their carts which serve cold items. Again, from the top left hand corner:

1. Turnip Cake: These usually come to our table after they are freshly pan fried. Inside are chunks of turnip (which they do not skimp on) and the batter which has plenty of dried shrimp. Nicely seasoned. We like it but usually can not finish it.

2. Soy Sauce Chow Mein: A great deal for the price. Thin yellow noodles are stir fried along with bean sprouts, green onions, onions, soy sauce, and yellow chives. Then, a sprinkling of sesame seeds is added to complete the dish. Full House's rendition is basically the same as the HK style cafes; if not better. It is however slightly oily, but for the price, it is a good deal.

3. Seaweed: Don't let them fool you. This seaweed is expensive at 10+ dollars a pound at the 99 Ranch supermarket, and they can not give that much; otherwise they would lose money. So, inside this layer of seaweed is actually some pickled vegetables which are still very tasty. There is plenty of seaweed, but the looks fool you- the amount is about a handful's worth, which is still a great deal for the money. The seaweed is nicely seasoned and not too wet.

4. Vegetable ("Gong Choy"): This was firm and crisp, and it seems like it has been marinated in something for sometime. Inside is a bed of stewed peanuts which were tender and fun to eat with chopsticks :).

Full-House-Rice-Noodle-Roll

Probably what is one of the best items here is the rice noodle rolls or cheong fun. Full Houses' rice noodle rolls have very thin and chewy layers which shows their expertise, and rarely are they ever thick or oversteamed. They beat Hop Li in this category. Again, from the top left hand corner:

1. Cilantro and Green Onion Rice Noodle Rolls: You have to special order this but it still costs the same price. Like Hop Li, they give you six rolls which is double compared to the usual meat filled rice noodle rolls. Cilantro and green onion are randomly applied to the rice noodle rolls and then are rolled. These don't look very pretty, but they are tasty and simple! By the way, Hop Li doesn't make this dish look that pretty anymore too.

2. Beef Rice Noodle Rolls: Now with our favorite cilantro and green onion rice noodle rolls, we do not like this as much. The filling has some water chestnuts and cilantro along with the ground beef- similar to their beef meatballs dish. However the filling has a bit too much cornstarch and doesn't seem to be too fresh. The rice noodle roll portion is good and thin, but the filling is not. We like the scallop or fish pieces rice noodle rolls better.

3. XO Rice Noodle Rolls: This doesn't come too often but when it is available, order it! It is slightly spicy dish which has bean sprouts, cut plain rice noodle rolls, and XO sauce which are then stir fried together. The flavor soaks into the rice noodle rolls which ends up for a savory and tasty sensation in the mouth.

Full-House-Desserts

And of course there are plenty of desserts to choose from too. Above are what we order most frequently:

1. Egg Tarts: These are sweet and eggy, and have a crisp and slightly powdery puff pastry crust.

2. Sweet Tofu Soup: This varies on how good it tastes, but sometimes it can be really smooth and silky, but at other times a bit rougher in texture and not as smooth. The photo is of a not so smooth and silky sweet tofu soup. Served alongside is some ginger syrup which is not very gingery but is very sweet to my taste buds.

3. Water Chestnut Cake: Whenever we come to Full House we wait for this to come or order it. This dish is one of the best renditions of what Full House has and is no comparison to other dim sum places. The gelatin is sweet and smooth, and the water chestnuts are large and crispy. Plus, the outside is crispy and due to the sweetness, the crust gets even sweeter. Tasty!

4. Ma-Lai Gow (Sweet Cake): This is also another of those dishes that doesn't come out too often. Look for a person carrying a large steamer which will probably have this sweet cake. The Ma-Lai cake is not too sweet and is very fluffy. Not too dry or dense unlike some places.

We are not finished yet.

Preserved Duck Egg and Pork Porridge

Full House's Preserved Duck Egg and Pork Porridge is a great deal for the price and is pretty tasty. The rice is not fully disintegrated and there are some pieces, but mostly it is all mushed up. Plenty of chunks of preserved duck egg and pork are in the porridge, and on top the dim sum ladies add some fried wonton skins and some green onions which adds a nice textural contrast and flavor to the porridge.

Gai Lan

Full House also has gai lan which is cooked to order. This however is not part of the special deals, and instead costs 6 dollars a plate. Not as good of a deal, but restaurants do like to overcharge for vegetables. This gai lan was fresh and tender, and not bitter unlike some places. It had a nice snap but still was cooked fully. On the side was some savory oyster sauce.

Beef Stew with Rice Noodle Rolls (special order)

Another special order dish is a Beef Stew Rice Noodle Roll Pot which costs 7.25. We used to order this a lot but after we found the cilantro and green onion rice noodle rolls we do not order it as much. Supposedly, they are supposed to put the beef stew into the pot, but since we feel it makes the rice noodle rolls lose their crisp (they pan fry them before putting them into this sizzling pot), we tell them not to put them together. Instead, when we want to eat the rice noodle rolls we dip them in the cornstarch laden but flavorful beef stew and then eat it immediately. The beef stew is not very tender (May Mei is best in this category), but the flavor and texture combination otherwise is pretty nice. There are also onions in the bottom of the sizzling pot where the rice noodle rolls are located to minimize the risk of burning the rice noodle rolls.

So, all in all, a great wide selection of dim sum items. Good food, great service. What more do you need?

Full House Seafood Restaurant
1220 South Golden West Ave
Arcadia, CA 91007
(626) 446-8222

Full House Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Who else ate here?
Wandering Chopsticks visited along with her little sister and friends who visit Full House quite often.

P.S. The dinner service has actually gotten better now! Review to follow in a while :).

P.S. Feb 2010 Dinner service fails tremendously during holidays, but is good during any other day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Seafood at the Beach: Fathers Day at Quality Seafood in Redondo Beach and Shanghai Red's in Marina Del Rey

This is the 126th post here on Eat. Travel. Eat!, which is also the same number as my Tripadvisor account (BSA126)...so I decided to write about something different compared to my usual restaurant review. Today, it is all about a Father's Day trip at the beach.

First I want to thank Elmomonster of Monster Munching for sparking our minds to make this day happen. Months ago, I read his blog on an interesting place called Quality Seafood. Quality Seafood is a very large seafood market (they proclaim to be largest on the west coast), but what made us want to go there was Elmomonster's photo and video of the sea urchin, or uni. For months, my family and I deliberated about going to the place, but when summer arrived, we had the urge to go there on the weekend.

And so we did on Fathers Day. It was a long road trip consisting of a long local route and freeways but it was worth it. The route was confusing at first. Why?

Well, our GPS didn't have the International Boardwalk street as a place to locate it. Secondly, Quality Seafood was not in the POI list either. So, I just picked a place that sounded familiar on the GPS (I know, a disaster waiting to happen!) close by, and we drove all the way to Redondo Beach.

When we did arrive, we found out we were at the wrong place. Wrong pier, wrong location. So, we called Quality Seafood. Luckily, right at their phone, they had a automated system which told people how to drive to their location. After looking at the map, we found Quality Seafood's location.

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This is what you are looking for. The Redondo Beach Pier.

As we went downward to enter the parking lot, the view just got better. Pristine ocean views, and a beautiful blue sky. After a slight right turn, we were in the busy parking lot, which is not free to park in for those who are not sure. Very busy on Father's Day- there was lots of honking and cars entering/ leaving. However, we found a spot in about two minutes, and parked.

After we parked, we noticed we parked on the wrong side of the parking lot to go to Quality Seafood (Quality Seafood is at the far end of the parking lot, and not near the entrance of the parking lot). So, we walked along the pier, watching the ocean on a breezy and sunny day. Then, we walked downstairs, and this is what we saw:

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What is large? This is large. Quality Seafood took up a large L corner spot in the International Boardwalk. Quality Seafood is larger than all the other fish markets that we have visited, including the Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. Not only was plenty of outdoor seating, the seafood market was just large.

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I tried to take a panoramic of the place, but no, it didn't work when I put all the photos and photomerged them in Photoshop. What is supposed to be a L corner looks like a zig-zag. But you can tell how large it is...right?

At first the layout was confusing at first. There were various stations specializing on a particular item, like oysters, shellfish, fish, and hot items. Mainly people were lining up on the hot food area, which confused us as we thought in order to buy something, we would need to enter the line which was already out the door from Quality Seafood.


Here is a video on the interior of Quality Seafood. This walk around goes around half of the entire market, but other parts of Quality Seafood were closed on Father's Day. What is missing in the video is the oyster and crab areas of Quality Seafood. What you do see is the bread, hot items, fish, and clam section.

Obviously, we were looking for the sea urchins that Elmomonster ate, but unfortunately, it was not available. They had already sold them out on Saturday, the day before Father's Day. The employee which we asked about sea urchins said that if you want to try the sea urchins, it is best to come on Thursday or Friday. Basically meaning, Thursday and Friday is when to come for the freshest seafood.

At first I wanted to order some hot food items like freshly fried fish or the clam chowder, but looking at the line, I didn't want to order anymore. Plus, my dining companions had already ordered while I was looking at the food items and doing the video which you see above. So...

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Looking at all the items, we decided have some oysters for lunch (at first). There was no line at the oyster bar, but the employees were busy shucking oysters for people already ordering oysters. The people who we saw ordering oysters were buying several dozens of oysters for their families. We did the same.

The same person in the photo, which was also the same person who helped Elmomonster with the uni (look at the top right hand corner of the photo all about the uni), shucked our oysters for us. We asked for his recommendation of oysters and picked whatever he recommended. At first, we just wanted to try out all the large sized oysters, but he disagreed. He recommended the Hamma Hamma Oysters, which cost 1.60 each. The employee described these oysters as being smooth and sweet. He said these mid sized oysters were the best- the large oysters would be too salty. So, we followed suit with him, and he started shucking.

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One by one, he started shucking the oysters and took them out from a mesh bag which was soaking the oysters in the water. Using one knife, he smoothly and quickly opened each oyster and then used the same knife to loosen up the oyster for easy eating. Above is the employee finished with our two dozen's worth of Hamma Hamma Oysters. He was searching for more lemons in this photo.

Afterward he found the lemons, which were in a huge tub. Using his bare hands he grabbed a handful of the lemons and placed it onto the oysters, and put some hot sauce packets and cups of cocktail sauce on top of the oysters. After we paid for the oysters along with tipping him, the oysters were free to eat.

Hamma-Hamma-Oysters

And definitely, these Hamma-Hamma Oysters were tasty! The liquid from the Hamma-Hamma oysters were not too salty like the employee said. With a squeeze of lemon, we gulped our two dozen down pretty quickly. Each morsel was firm and not mushy, and even with the lemon squeezed on top, the oysters still had their original flavors. A light cucumber finish lingered in our mouths after we finished them.

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In addition to our Hamma-Hamma Oysters we also got some live black mussels and manila clams which were then steamed with a sauce concoction which tasted like butter and wine. Unlike some of the seafood items like the fish and oysters which were a good deal, the mussels and clams were definitely not as good of a deal. 8.99 a pound for both the clams and mussels, and the photo above was about 12 dollars. How did we order them? Well, what we did was go to the shellfish area (right next to the oyster bar), and then asked for the employee to get us some manila clams and mussels. After weighing them in a plastic bag which still had water in it, the employee asked us if we wanted to cook the clams and mussels, and we replied yes. Thus, he then took out an aluminum pan, which you see in the photo, and put all the clams and mussels in there. Next, he added two squirts of sauce from a vat, and then steamed the clams and mussels in an industrial steamer. After about 10 minutes, we went back and received our clams and mussels- the pan was HOT! Anyway, both the clams and mussels were not too juicy and were a bit dry, but they were all very fresh (if not, that would have been the most disappointing place I have ever been to along the ocean!). I guess they steamed them for too long. The sauce had a rich butter and wine flavor, along with the juice from the clams and mussels, but it was a tad salty. In addition, they did not clean the clams or mussels, so we got some extra sea greens from the sea.

On seating at Quality Seafood: There is a large seating area outside on the first floor, as well as on the second floor. In addition, there are also some stand up areas you can choose from. If you have a partner with you, I suggest that one person (or more) goes buy the food, and everyone else go find a spot. Finding a spot is not easy especially when it is crowded, and you do not want to be holding your food waiting for a seat. Not only does the food not get fresh, you have an ultra high chance of dropping your food.

Also, bring along some plates and forks, which I saw other people do, so that you can share amongst your party. Newspapers are provided so that you can cover up the stone tables.

Overall, Quality Seafood was definitely an interesting experience. The food was most definitely fresh, and some of the seafood there is very affordable for the price. When eating here, you can either make your meal very affordable or very pricey depending on your mood. It is all up to you. We will be back for the uni when we have time!

Quality Seafood‎
(310) 374-2382‎
130 International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA‎ 90277

Quality Seafood on Urbanspoon

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And nope, this isn't just the end of the blog post! Along with Quality Seafood, we also visited the area and also went to another restaurant. Father's Day weather at Redondo Beach was great- breezy, not too warm, and sunny. Great day to take photos. And so, I did.

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Here is a photo from the pier at the International Boardwalk where Quality Seafood is located. Great blue waters and blue sky. Plenty of activity too happening on Father's Day; there were even boat tours going on.

Anyway, even after eating the clams, two dozen oysters, and mussels, we were still hungry. So, we set off to Kincaid's which was also at the pier. This however was not successful at all. Even after we had sat for 5 minutes, no one came to serve us even though that they knew we were there! So, we left the place, and while doing so, we noticed we had lost something of value. Sigh.

We wanted to drive back home as we were still hungry, and even wanted to make plans with our other dining companions to eat at a Hong Kong style cafe. But...one of my dining companions, who was doing the driving, found another place, which we all have gone too and like. Traffic was ULTRA slow, and barely any cars were moving. Thus, we headed off the freeway, and headed towards Shanghai Red's, in Marina Del Rey. (Now Whiskey Red's as of 2013) One of our very favorite restaurants in this area.

Shanghai-Reds

Shanghai Red's is located right next to the marina as well as next to a public parking lot. At Father's Day, the lot was full, like it usually is. If you plan on staying at Shanghai Red's for less than two hours, park at the public parking lot. But if not, park at Shanghai Red's own valet parking spaces. You will save some money depending on how long you keep eating and enjoying the view at Shanghai Reds.

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After we had parked, we went towards to Shanghai Red's, which has a beautiful shady pathway that meanders into the entrance of the restaurant. Along the path, you will see plenty of greenery, as well as a copious amount of fish swimming around in the pond.

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And these fish definitely attracted attention! People would watch the fish from not only inside of the restaurant but also outdoors at the pathway. But nevertheless, watching fish was not our key goal- eating was :).

So, we walked into the restaurant and found out it was in full brunch buffet mode, and not in regular restaurant mode with menus and the like. We had forgotten that on Sundays and holidays that they offer a brunch buffet. At first, this made some of my dining companions want to choose another place, but since we were here anyway, we decided to eat here. The waiter brought us to our seats, which were outdoors.

Outside-Seating

At first we didn't want to sit outdoors. It was sunny outside, and it was also warm. However, although the inside of the restaurant was not full, the only spaces available were at an empty place where everyone was walking by. No one was leaving quickly- we did have to wait for a spot, as the customers were soaking up the great view and having conversations amongst themselves and the friendly staff.

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See? One spot in the interior was completely empty. No one ended up sitting here anyway. Everyone was outdoors or was in a different part of the restaurant. After we received our table, we headed off to the buffet, which was split into three areas.

Main-Buffet-Line

In a room that had no tables for customers was the main buffet line. All the major hot items were here- salmon, seafood newburg, korean shortribs, rack of lamb, et cetera. There was also a selection of Mexican food like soups and chips and dips, as well as fruits, breads and pastries, breakfast options (like eggs benedict which was actually pretty good- the egg still had a runny center), sushi, and cold seafood like shrimp and mussels (and more food that I can not remember since I did not try it). By the time we arrived, around 3PM, people were gathering items as they said that the restaurant was going to stop food production for a few hours. It did not seem like that to us, but most certainly, when some items were taken, they did not come back for a while- like the lamb chops.

Drinks

Right outside the room was the drinks area, which was split up into two areas. The first one was a cappuccino area which also had extras like whipped topping, cookies, biscotti, and marshmallows. The other station was for juices, and the juices available were apple, orange (freshly squeezed), and cranberry.

Pasta-Station

Another station was the pasta station, which was located at the bar which also had the empty seating area. There was two types of pasta to choose from as well as a selection of meat and veggies. I did not get to try any of the pasta during this visit.

Patio

The only station that was outdoors was the breakfast and meat station, which had a choosing of freshly made to order omelets, prime rib, ham, turkey, waffles, and some other breakfast items, as well as side items like strawberries and whipped topping to go with the waffles. I did get the prime rib here. It is actually one of Shanghai Red's signature items and costs a lot at the regular menu (that is, unless you get the kids menu which portion is just as large as the regular menu).

Desserts

Located by the drinks and main buffet line was the dessert station which had a large, high quality chocolate fountain, sugar free cookies and cakes, and conventional sugar loaded cakes. There was plenty to choose from for the cookies and cakes, and for the chocolate fountain, there were madelines, marshmallows, melons, pineapple, rice crispies, and strawberries all skewered on bamboo sticks to dip in the chocolate.

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With so much selection available, we definitely got our fill of food and drink. Let's start out with the drinks. Here is some of the freshly squeezed orange juice which was sweet and had some pulp, a glass of ice water, and some Wycliff champagne which was included in the buffet price. Our servers kept wanting to pour more and more, and they did for everybody! Constant refills.

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Yes, by the case. With so many customers, they used a ton of champagne with the constant refills. No wonder why this buffet cost 38 dollars per person. The champagne costs a lot!

Cappuccino

Another drink that we got our fair share of was the cappuccino from the cappuccino station. Making the cappuccino look good was not easy, especially since whipped topping would just not go off from the giant spoon! So... I had two misses and one hit. The middle one was actually my first one. Anyway, we got about 5 glasses of this cappuccino. It was probably from a mix but it tasted fine to me anyway. It was at a nice warm temperature that was not at all near boiling which was nice for this hot day, and it had a rich and sweet cream and coffee flavor.

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And what about the food? Well, this was my first plate. At the top you see baked salmon, the seafood newburg (a bit of it- it is the orange substance), lemon wedge, cold green mussels with cocktail sauce, and prime rib with aj jus. Everything on this plate was excellent. The baked salmon was very tender and melted in your mouth. Seafood newburg was an interesting dish- the sauce was like lobster bisque, and the seafood portion had plenty of scallops, squid, fish, and other varieties of seafood. The mussels were nicely chilled and were definitely not overcooked. They were much larger than the ones at Quality Seafood! Lastly, the prime rib with aj jus was definitely the star of the plate. When the server cut it from the entire piece of meat, he even asked if I wanted the fat or not. However, he had cut fast enough so that I couldn't make a choice :). So, we joked around and had fun with these decision making skills. The prime rib was very tender even though it was fully cooked. Plenty of beef flavor was still in the roast, and the aj jus just heightened the flavor even more (and it wasn't from a mix). However, if the meat was just a bit more rare more it would have been even more tender and flavorful. I have had their prime rib during the regular menu and it tastes delicious when at medium. This was still good though.

I even got a second plate of prime rib and some other dishes, but I forgot to take a photo to my surprise! Anyway, after my second plate I was picking off from my dining companion's plates as they had gotten enough to share. So, I was able to try both the Korean shortribs and the lamb chops, both of which were excellent. The Korean shortribs were marinated not for too long and had the flavor from a Korean BBQ restaurant- it was a bit similar to what Todai used to serve at their buffets. The lamb chops were marinated with some mustard and had a lamb flavor which was not too potent but not bland either.

Views

After all this food, I relaxed and watched the view, just like how other customers and people at the marina were doing. And why not; Shanghai Red's says their view is the most romantic view in the marina right on their business card. There was plenty of action going on with the boats, and watching the birds fly around and the water shine was intriguing. Speaking about the birds...

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There were birds all around the marina, and with all the birds, they decided to splat their poo onto the umbrella and onto Shanghai Red's customers. My jacket was a victim from all this, and so was my chair and part of the table. Luckily, the Shanghai Red's staff came to the rescue, wiping up the mess and covering it up with cloth so it looked like normal.

The staff was great to us. They were not only amicable but they also engaged the customers and even provided some live entertainment. One of the staff members sang songs and the customers joined along with some clapping beats. How fun! This doesn't happen often at most restaurants.

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Since I was nearing the end of my intake of food, I decided to go to the desserts station and cover some sweets in chocolate so that they could dry out a bit before I ate them. This plan did not work however. Even after 20 minutes of waiting the chocolate did not dry, unlike my experiences at Shangri-La and Harrah's chocolate fountains. This plate had a marshmallow, a rice crispy, and three strawberries. Previously on my second plate I also made a chocolate covered madeline which was scrumptious. All the items were excellent- the ingredients were fresh and the strawberries were sweet. What was best was the chocolate, which was very smooth and not too sweet on the mouth. Great dessert!

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And to really end the meal, I got a cookie, two slices of cheesecake, and a lemon cake to share. The cheesecake was not too heavy and the crust was sweet, thin, and not too crumbly, which I liked. On the other hand, the lemon cake had lots of cream, but still had plenty of the lemon flavor. The fat and thin chocolate chip cookie was buttery and sweet, with plenty of chocolate chips throughout the cookie.

Overall, the Father's Day Brunch at Shanghai Red's was worth the money and was a great experience. The food was of a high quality and I was very happy with all the food. Great atmosphere, food, and service. What more could you want? And it is reasonably priced for the area too. I just might go back this weekend as I have another special occasion coming up...

Shanghai Red's
13813 Fiji Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Tel: 310-823-4522

Shanghai Red's on Urbanspoon

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As we drove on the freeway (with still some traffic even after 3 hours eating and enjoy the view at Shanghai Red's), we noticed an advertisement for Pepsi on a building. And with that note, this is the end of my post.

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