Sunday, September 26, 2010

888 Seafood Restaurant- Rosemead

888 Seafood Restaurant Exterior

Some assume the color scheme of a pinkish peach with the clashing aqua turquoise color is one from years ago, and if you were guessing this was the case with 888 Seafood Restaurant, you are right! 888 Seafood Restaurant has been in existence for a long time unlike the newer wave of Chinese restaurants like Capital, Lunasia, and Elite.

888 Seafood Restaurant Interior

Although I've known of the place for a long time and have been visiting more than 10 years ago, I haven't been to 888 for the past few years until recently.  The location is just not where I often go to, but after driving around trying to find a place for dinner, we ended up at 888 thanks to one of my dining companion's suggestion. Yes, it was quite empty inside, but we sat down anyway.

Marinated Cucumber and Stewed Peanuts

After we sat down, two complimentary starters arrived. One dish had diced cucumber pickles that were marinated in peppers, vinegar, salt, and sugar, which provided nice heat as well as some sweet and tart factors. The other dish had Chiu Chow marinated peanuts (aka. loh shui if you get my phonetics...), which had tender boiled peanuts immersed in a sweet soy sauce mixture commonly used for these "loh shui" applications. Both were very good and although both plates were quite big for a complimentary dish, we still asked for refills. They were after all, quite tasty.

Soup

With soup, we either like to order a thick soup like fish maw and corn, or then order a traditional style soup that has been slowly cooked for a long period of time. 888 happened to offer a "Ba Wong Fa" soup (and that phonetic means a type of flower...one of which I don't know the english translation of) soup, so we ordered it. It's not widely seen in restaurants but we use it at home as a soup ingredient.

Soup Detail

If you have not tried the flower before, it's almost like having noodles in a sense that it is stringy and long. The texture depending on the how long it has been cooked can be mushy or like a tender vegetable. 888 prepared it so that it was melty in the thinner strands and while the thicker sections still had some feel to it. As for the rest off the soup, it was nicely flavored with pork and other ingredients. Like most restaurants nowadays, the soup was cooked in a large pot, and was transferred into a small pot for serving.

 Kabocha Squash with Mountain Yam, Gingko Nuts, and Sugar Snap Peas

It also happened to be that our vegetable dish, which we ordered from the seasonal menu, came out first before the other dishes. It had kabocha squash (which in Chinese is said to be pumpkin, but restaurants usually substitute kabocha squash instead), gingko nuts, mountain yam, and sugar snap peas all combined with some cornstarch slurry and seasonings. It was definitely a light dish, and it was the ingredients straight up cooked with some seasoning. Everything was crisp except for the gingko nuts which were unusually bitter in a sense. Otherwise it was a nice dish!

Stewed Duck, Tofu, and Peanuts with Vinegar

What probably should have arrived first arrived second. Since one of my dining companions likes the soy sauce marinated items ("loh shui"), we ordered a platter of "loh shui" duck slices with fried tofu, which came along with a traditional side of vinegar as well as some more "loh shui" peanuts.

The duck was tender and had all the flavors from the marinade. On the other hand, the tofu was still crisp, and to flavor it you could dip it in the marinade or just eat it straight up. Vinegar, if you do not know yet, cuts down on the duck and provides an contrast to the marinade which is sweet and savory, while the vinegar is tart and pungent with a hint of sweetness. Excellent dish to order. We do not order this often, but when we do it is at restaurants that specialize at doing it, like 888.

Steamed Red Cod

The main event of the night, a steamed red cod, came next. This was pricier compared to Embassy Kitchen and Full House at 20+ dollars a pound, but what came back in return was much larger. It's your choice- a lower weight cost but less fish, but higher weight cost but more fish- they just adjust to their needs at the scale. 888 was definitely very generous with the scale, and this red cod had tons of fish meat to enjoy and savor. Plus, it was cooked very nicely, flaking nicely and melting in the mouth. Plenty of shaved scallions and scallions surrounded by a ring of pepper made me happy. The soy sauce and scallions were great with the rice, but the rice only came in a personal bowl and not a shared tub. No one came to ask if we wanted a refill so I am assuming there are none, as usual when the rice is served in a small bowl.

Anyway, back to the point. This was an excellent steamed fish for a great price. The price per pound is more, but they will not cheat you on the scale! You will get what you pay for, and probably some more.

Egg Tofu with Ground Pork and Preserved Vegetables

Last was a plate of egg tofu with a soy sauce based sauce topped with ground pork, preserved vegetables, and scallions. Simple but flavorful flavors and high quality ingredients always work, and in this case it definitely did. I enjoyed the eggy tofu and the sauce was great on rice.

Tapioca Mung Bean Dessert Soup

Since it was a special occasion my dining companions were wanting to order a taro dessert, but with the fish and all the other dishes we had, it was quite enough. So, we enjoyed their complimentary tapioca dessert soup instead, which also had flecks of split beans (mung bean, I am guessing).  It was definitely tasty; after all tapioca dessert soup is one of my personal favorites and most restaurants do not give this soup out for free anymore!

And some interesting events during my visit: there was a group of people who were doing a wine taste at 888 and they seemed to be sampling food with wine. There were at least 5+ bottles of wine! Later on, a group of people walked through the restaurant who were smoking. Eventually, the smell got through the entire restaurant and the restaurant started to smell like one in China- a slight smell that doesn't immediately make you think of smoke. Now I know. Slight smells like these are a meaning of someone has been smoking!

Back on topic, this dinner was overall a great visit with good food at nice prices, so we came back again for dim sum a few days later after not deciding to go to Sea Harbour for dim sum. Dim sum at 888 goes by tiers like at Capital, so be careful of what you order or else your bill just may be a very expensive one!


Bean Curd Skin with Vegetable

We first had a steamer of vegetables or what 888 describes on their menu as "bean curd skin w/vegetable." (unless this item is a special item, which I do not know if it is). Basically, it was like your regular bean curd skin roll turned healthy since the rolls were not fried, and the rolls themselves were vegetables- napa cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, wood ear, and the like. The sauce was the same sauce as you would see on a bean curd skin roll though. Nice healthy starter.

Baked BBQ Pork Buns

Next came some BBQ Pork Buns. The char siu used in these were definitely of a higher quality, more meaty and less shreddded. It was also more flavorful, and not very red (hopefully very little or no food coloring). As for the bread, it wasn't completely fluffy and soft, but still tender with a nice bite. Also a good sign as in less baking powder!

Chiu-Chow Style Fun Gow

The Chiu-Chow Style Fun Gow was good, but the skin was a bit too sticky that day. Otherwise it was on par with Capital, which has one of the better fun-goh in my opinion. Plenty of crunch from peanuts plus other ingredients and not too much dried shrimp.

Steamed Rice Noodle with Beef

Also just as good was the steamed rice noodle with beef. The rice noodles were thin and chewy with a nice pull, and the beef was not too tinkered with into making it ultra tender unlike some places. Thus, the beef still felt meaty, and everything worked well especially with the sweet soy sauce.

Blood Cubes and Squid with Leeks

My dining companion likes pigs blood but still, we don't order all the time. But on this occasion we ordered 888's leek and pigs blood, which also had some squid pieces (tasted like it, but not sure if it is since I only know the cantonese name) in it. Overall it was quite nice with the pigs blood tasting fresh and tender, while the squid was also tender but also slightly spicy. Leeks cut into the richness of the dish.

Pork Siu Mai

To round out the meal in terms of dim sum items, we ended the dim sum course with a steamer of Pork Siu Mai. Filled with plenty of pork and not a lot of fat, this was quite tasty and the quality was there.

Fu Kien Fried Rice

This was not the end of the meal however, as we also ordered a rice and noodle course. Part one was the Fu Kien Fried Rice (15 USD). Yes, this was on the higher end of the pricing scale, but it was definitely worth the money! There was plenty of shrimp, scallop, roast duck, and char siu combined with the sauce, and the gai lan was cut extra thin so that it would be easy to eat and no too bitter. The rice was perfect, not too oily, and the eggs were wispy thin. Delicious. If you don't want your entire meal to be all dim sum or entrees, this is the dish to order!


Shredded Chicken and Mushroom with Vermicelli in Soup

We also had the Shredded Chicken and Mushroom w/ Vermicelli in Soup (11.80 USD), which is definitely a lighter dish compared to the fried rice. It had plenty of pieces of chicken along with pieces of shimeji mushroom combined with al dente vermicelli and a light broth. If you are in for vermicelli soups, this is not a bad rendition, plus the quality is better compared to other places.


Overall, I have no problem recommending 888 for dinner or dim sum. Good quality ingredients and a nice price to boot. Plus friendly service, especially during dim sum.


888 Seafood Restaurant
8450 Valley Blvd. #121
Rosemead, CA 91770
Tel: (626) 573-1888


___________________________

P.S. I do apologize for not having a post last week (this was supposedly last week's post), as it has been quite busy for me recently until this last weekend. I started writing this post eight days ago, and the photos were up a week before then! But for now things should be going a bit smoother...

Your input please: An Orange County Thai Restaurant for next week or a Korean AYCE BBQ posting? Or a Mexican restaurant in Arcadia? What do you want me to write about next? I have a Fresh and Easy Frozen Yogurt post...remember Trader Joe's Frozen Yogurt from before? They'll be coming in sooner or later unless I visit some interesting restaurants these weeks. 

Also, there have been some funny spam comments recently, all from one person who decided to scatter his spam comments over several posts this Friday. For example:

Garden Cafe- Arcadia: A Dinner Visit:

"A friend told me he visited Garden Cafe and he says it's amazing because they have a big garden into the restaurant, it sounds incredible I wanna go there."

Really? A garden! Nope. That is completely false at least for the Garden Cafe chain here in So Cal. But nice try for making it actually fit into the comment policy, but their name + website links to something unsuitable for the website and thus is SPAM.

Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza- Costa Mesa:

"I don't know how in this article says: "I would have left this restaurant off the list of places to visit" because this is the most beautiful restaurant I've visited in my life and the food extraordinary."

I stated why in the post! Mr.Spam obviously skimmed through the post and just took note of that one comment and nothing afterwards.

 Anyway, enjoy your week!

-EatTravelEat

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mandarin Noodle House- Monterey Park

Mandarin Noodle House

Mandarin Noodle House

What might be a reoccurring theme in businesses is that the original location is the most special. So, let's start with some history, also known as a human interest story to some for today. If you've known the owner of Mandarin Noodle Deli- Temple City for more than ten years, then you would know that her original location was at Mandarin Noodle House in Monterey Park for many years. The interior back then was old, with the orange pointy lamps hanging from above and a dark interior with soft drinks lined across the counter. However, the food was different- it was excellent, flavorful, and robust. The green onion pancakes were savory, fragrant, and full of scallion flavor. And the special beef noodle soups had hand pulled noodles standard, and a deep, concentrated with flavor beef broth to boot. It wasn't until the 2000's when she moved to the Temple City location, now called New Mandarin Noodle Deli with new management.
Interior

Interior

So, what happened to the Monterey Park location after the original owner left? Well, a new management with another location elsewhere took over the place It's operated by a family member of the owner, and they renovated it to be a brighter color scheme. Out with the retro bright orange and in with a more soothing beige, blue, and green color palette and windows with blinds open for more light. And the soda cans are still there, now put on a fan like window to the side that is etched with the restaurant's name.

Edit: Some new information...the new location is operated by a family member, and the second location is in  Northridge.

Seaweed and Cucumber Appetizer

When we visited during the summer and saw that their cucumber and seaweed appetizer looked very similar to Mandarin Noodle Deli's version, we knew it was going to be a good meal. And yes, it tasted similar too! The seaweed was cold, crisp, and slightly garlicky and sour from vinegar, and the cucumber was crisp with a bit of sweet and sour action just like at Mandarin Noodle Deli. So far, so good!

Potstickers

The potstickers were also pretty good. They had the fragrant off the wok flavor like at Mandarin Noodle Deli, but these were more crescent shaped and had a slightly thinner wrapper. The meat was also more savory in this version.

Green Onion Pancake

However, the real test was if the green onion pancakes were good or not. Result? Not the same, but very good for a green onion pancake. These had the scallion flavor like at Mandarin Noodle Deli, but they were not equally fragrant as there was less oil and crisp browning on the pancake. Otherwise these were very similar. I had a take out version later and the savory scallion flavor stayed in my mouth for hours. :)

Hand Pulled Beef Noodle Soup

The other important test was on the beef noodle soup. In this occasion we ordered the hand pulled noodles which are made in house, as we don't want to eat as much preservatives and food color that seem to be added more and more on regular noodles made by large companies. These were fantastic, and were similar to the noodles at Noodle House in Arcadia (the owner says she is enjoying retirement) and Mandarin Noodle House in the past before there were only hand pulled noodles. They were not thick, but instead they were thinner and slurp-able with a nice chew between thinner and thicker parts. Another plus were that the noodles were not chewy enough to stick to the mouth like at some places. As for the beef, they were plentiful and very tender and flavorful. Same went with the broth- it was equally good as before!

Wonton Soup

We also had a bowl of wonton soup, which had plenty of wontons which were filled with meat and vegetables. These wontons were lightly flavored, and so was the broth. Cucumbers were an interesting addition which brought in a unusual flavor that cooked cucumber has, similar to how celery is when put into a broth.

Stir Fried Rice Noodle

Lastly we had some stir fried rice vermicelli, which were also very lightly flavored. The mushrooms provided plenty of earthiness, and the minced garlic on top added some nice pungency to the otherwise lightly flavored, or to some, bland dish.

All in all, Mandarin Noodle House is THE substitute for those waiting for the owner of Mandarin Noodle Deli to open up a new restaurant. But really, who knows if she will? Because like Noodle House's owner says, not working in the restaurant gives her is much more relaxing, let alone less arguments.

Mandarin Noodle House
701 W Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91754

Tel: (626) 570-9795

Mandarin Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Mandarin Noodle House in Los Angeles on Fooddigger


P.S: If you are wondering why these photos are different compared to my recent photos, well, they are from a four year old camera phone. Yet the photos are fine, if some a bit out of focus, thanks to plenty of sunlight.

And again, your opinion on the new header please (since I got no responses earlier). Do you like the old one better or the new one? Plus, did you notice the facebook button to the sidebar?

Also, if you have not noticed yet the blog is back on a one post a week schedule, possibly less as right now the schedule is busier than last year. Universal Studios Part 3 will not be written until a long weekend has arrived.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Universal Studios Hollywood- Universal City: Part 2

18 Waterworld Entry

Continuing from part 1 (click *Universal Studios Hollywood- Universal City: Part 1* to read it), we went from playing various games to Waterworld, which Universal Studios describes as "a tidal wave of explosive action" where "the hit motion picture comes surging to live in a spectacular tidal wave of death defying stunts, awesome explosions and an ocean of thrills!" And it was most certainly an entertaining and amazing show.

19 Waterworld Stage Panoramic

Inside, things were getting onto the mood. Heroic music was playing, and employees dressed in costumes were getting ready. Then...

20  Waterworld WET

The employees started to have some fun by spraying people who haven't sat down yet. And yes, I was in the wet zone! The show does get wet in some situations due to the quick stunt moves by the ships, which sends water flying all over to the wet zone.

If I hadn't covered the face of the person, you'd see his face looking towards the employee, who was basically trying to act if he did not spray anyone. Sometimes he'd just stare at me so that I would take a picture of him in that manner. The photo above is one example. He would also spray at a kid nearby the water spray, getting several of them wet already before the show started!

21 Waterworld-Wet-People

As the audience gathered and filled in more seats, the employees were off from their spraying of people walking by. They were on, full out.

Photo two the top left is one person using a bucket of water and throwing it to the audience. Sounds wonderful right? Picture on the top right is the same person using a water gun to get someone wet. Picture on the bottom left has a group of the employees using their water guns to get a person wet. And the last picture is the staring employee spraying water with his water gun...and with my autofocus not focused on him!


22  Waterworld Shouting


The actors were also trying to entertain and engage the audience. Thus, when our happy water spraying employee raised his hands up, we made a loud sound. Then, different sections of the audience came to get louder, louder, sometimes in bursts in long sections. But never mind that, since the show was about to start!

23  Waterworld Ship
A "good"ship

24  Waterworld Ship
The enemy

The show first started out simply, since the plot was being introduced. Dry land was being wanted, and one person knew where. The enemy on the other hand also wanted to know, and thus some commotion came along.

25  Waterworld Flying

This was much later on during the show with the girl attempting to escape from the enemy, but that's mainly because I was afraid of my camera suddenly getting wet. Now, you may ask, how does one get wet in the wet zone? Other than the employees spraying you with water hoses, there are also aquatic vehicles which move rapidly, thus causing a wave of water to cross the fence and spray the entire wet zone. I got very wet by the end of this, including my backpack, but my camera was thankfully protected by the jacket. :) And on the other hand, my friends didn't get very wet at all. What comes around goes around!

26  Waterworld Explosion 

Of course then the plot got more interesting, and as everything got busier, so did the special affects and stunts! Here's the bad guy on top, with a good guy handing onto the fence. He soon fell 30 or so feet into the water...how amazing!

27 Waterworld Fuel Explosion

More fighting with bullets caused the stage to then erupt into flames! Soon the fuel tank had an explosion, and we were definitely feeling the heat. Hot weather +  hot flames!

28 Waterworld Cast

Soon afterward the conclusion came (of course, happy), and then the entire cast came out. Some were from TV shows and movies, surprisingly!

29 Universal House of Horrors

My friends thought it would be great to add another attraction into our day and thus we visited Universal's House of Horrors. AKA something you would see at Halloween with haunted houses! At first it didn't seem scary, since it was waiting in line- movie posters were just placed for scary movies like Cirque Du Freak and Phantom of the Opera. So I felt like we were just going to see what was scary in the history of Universal. (The smiles are to make this place not as scary. I'll leave the description as a you know what.)

Well, that was the most horrible assumption of the day since it was exactly the opposite. It was exceedingly scary and horrifying! The employees would suddenly pop out of nowhere and try to scare you. People nearby would be screaming which would add to the terror. There was also bright flashes, employees attempting to grab you (but they aren't allowed to, so they try to get their hand close), touching weird things (you know what, I don't want to write onto the blog). Most scary was probably going through sections where the entry had a flap covering the top, since you weren't really sure what was ahead. Once someone popped up and screamed at me, and then there were you know whats from the top of the ceiling that you had to touch to get through, et cetera. And of course the camera was stashed in my backpack. I'd assume the lens would probably have been damaged if I had let it hang on my neck. No thank you!

*You know whats are things you would see during Halloween. 

30 Walking Zone

After what seemed like forever (although there are exit signs, they do not signal the end of the house path), we were finally out and recovering from the experience. It was definitely a heart beat increasing activity with scary thoughts trying to be implanted into the mind...but the outside was completely different! Happy, pretty British themed area and more. :)

31 Terminator 2: 3D

We were still in for another attraction, so right after visiting the House of Horrors we passed by to Terminator 2: 3D. Now this one also had a long wait, probably about 30 minutes in a snake like formation. Water misters and TV's kept waiting people entertained, but by then you really had nothing to do other than go play on a electronic device or chat. Plus the TV's were on a constant loop.

32 Terminator 2: 3D Auditorium

We rushed into the auditorium after picking up some 3D glasses. After all, who would want to wait several more minutes for the next showing?

33 Terminator 2: 3D Welcome

Inside, a lady introduced the audience to "Cyberdyne Systems," a company that was going to apparently make peace. But as the promotional video was showing, it was suddenly cut with some people saying Cyberdyne was evil, and would destroy the world. The lady then got very worried, trying to press buttons on the side screen. By the end of the presentation she tried to claim herself right. Who knows...but by then we were entering the movie showcase.

The movie was in a large hall with a large curved screen which made Cyberdyne appear strong...until the intruders who said Cyberdyne was evil came in! Then the movie started, which was a mix in 3D as well as physically appearing. But obviously, Arnold Schwarzenegger was portrayed  by someone else, which didn't look much like Schwarzenegger but it made the point. :)

34 Motorcycle Driver

After the movie showcase we passed by the store for the Terminator 2: 3D, which was interesting in the fact it had fake award trophies for sale and Twlight stuff...how does this all relate to Terminator again?

Then, outside we saw a fleet of motorcycles driving across. Kind of like the people singing and dancing next to the garbage car earlier in Part 1, these motorcycles were just trying to get attention. This wasn't the only car appearance during the day, there were others that I didn't take pictures of...some with negative connotations, some the other way around.

35 Coco Cola Water Zone

Nearby was the Coke Soak, so we took a look. Basically it's another water zone with water guns and buttons to operate water streams so people can get wet! 

36 Coco Cola Water Zone

Here's another view with the Coco-Cola sign in the picture...

37 Despicable Me Picture Area

While walking by to go to the Studio Tour, we passed by a section for Despicable Me for photos. Unfortunately too many people wanted a picture with this, so just just took a look and left. 

38 The Adventures of Curious George

Nearby the Studio Tour entrance was The Adventures of Curious George, yet another water zone! Lots of people were playing here, all dressed in swim suits (mostly). In fact, Universal had already thought of the concept well. If you get wet, you could get dried off with a so called dryer that you had to pay money for. Genious!

39 George Rocket

The main attraction here was the rocket of Curious George, because this activated the water systems. Although there would be water guns already, the water guns had to hit the buttons to the side of the rocket long enough so that an alarm would turn on, and then fill up a bucket which then went down like this:

40 Curious George Water Spill

Scream scream scream! And then all the people inside the water zone would get wet!

Part 3? A horrendously long wait, the Studio Tour, and beef stew and wonton noodle soup at Garden Cafe- Arcadia. :)

Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal Terrace Parkway
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Tel: (818) 622-3801