Chinese New Year is still in full effect at an ever-dependable Cantonese establishment: NBC Seafood Restaurant (Monterey Park)! More reasons to banquet harder! (We ordered our menu a la carte…)
Whole live fish: Sea bass (from the holding tank), in this case…
潮式蝦棗拼蟹棗 (Deep Fried Chiu Chow Style Prawn and Crab Balls), served with sweet & sour sauce… This is one of the House Specials. In retrospect, this appetizer was pretty good, but nothing special. But as the first dish served to a round table full of hungry people, these fried pieces were gobbled right up.
招牌海鮮湯 (House Special Seafood Soup)… A winner! The steaming, rich seafood broth is served separately from a clay cauldron, and the “goodies” that one can add to that soup (steamed veggies, mushrooms, fish fillets, tofu, etc.) come on a separate plate. Each person can customize according to his/her own taste. Just a super fortifying soup for a chilly day. Our table loved it!
北京片皮鴨 (Peking Duck), served with black bean sauce, buns, Asian chicharron and scallions & cilantro for garnish… Crispy duck skin, well-prepared. Though (of course) technically not Southern Chinese in origin, the appearance of the Peking duck always elicits gasps of delight from all the diners. The whole duck was broken down in the kitchen and not at table-side, but no matter - everyone at my table has seen the theatrics before.
金牌椒鹽鮮魷 (Baked Squid with Spicy Pepper Salt)… I liked these. Baking the squid, instead of the usual frying, draws out a slightly stronger taste from the squid - and that’s a good thing. Our party gobbled these up in a hurry.
中式牛柳粒 (Diced Steak Cantonese Style), with caramelized onions… So exquisitely tender! We had a member of our party who eats beef very sparingly, and tried this classic Canto dish for the first time. She stated that this dish will be her one guilty pleasure from now on.
西汁核桃蝦 (Shrimp with Honey Walnut)… Yes, a rather non-traditional (Westernized) choice. But the esteemed (eldest) member of our table specifically requested this, and NBC’s version of this dish was quite excellent.
北菇鮮鮑片 (Sliced Abalone with Black Mushroom)… The choice was between abalone or sea cucumber, and our vote went to abalone. The shellfish muscle was dense and luxurious. A classic dish.
招牌白鴿崧 (House Special Minced Quail)… Delicately seasoned and prepared, the crunchy lettuce really paired well texturally with the tenderness of the quail.
金湯蟹肉扒豆苗 (Sautéed Snow Pea Leaves with Crabmeat Sauce and Pumpkin)… Another Southern Chinese way of eating pea tendrils is combining it with pumpkin. Except here, whole pieces of crab meat are added to kick things up a notch. This was one of our favorite dishes of the night!
涼瓜排骨煲 (Spare Rib with Bitter Melon in Clay Pot)… Clay pot preparations must be included in any Canto-feast worth its salt. Bitter melon can be an acquired taste, but in this case, the ribs take on a gorgeous new dimension when stewed with the bitter melon. Another great dish of the night!
清蒸全魚 (Steamed Whole Live Fish)… Nothing symbolizes Chinese New Year as well as a steamed whole live fish. In Chinese culture, the adage “May you always have abundance” sounds very similar to the greeting “May you always have fish”. NBC kitchen did not disappoint - Our sea bass was moist, tender, and deftly seasoned. Beautiful.
瑤柱金菇伊麵 (Braised Yee Mein with Morel and Dried Scallop)… Long life noodles is another must-have when celebrating the Lunar New Year. NBC’s version is simply delicious. There is discernible wok hei which adds immensely to the flavor in this preparation.
奇妙流沙飽 (Golden Cream Bun)… Just superb! “Round foods” are yet another auspicious item to order in welcoming the New Year. These sweet bao are much larger than the ones served at dim sum. For fans of dessert, the filling in these buns is pure golden, yolky deliciousness.
金果芋泥 (Ginkgo and Mashed Taro Dessert), with red pitted dates, yam and silver ear fungus, … Taro “mud” or pudding, is another Southern Chinese specialty, and brings back fond memories for me. The warm, slightly sweet syrup blends with the dates, yam amd silver ear fungus to create an outstanding experience!
香滑芒果布甸 (Chilled Mango Pudding)… The kids wanted it, and the adults did too. Not overly sweet at NBC, with actual mango taste, this was made just the way we like our mango pudding!
Now THIS was a proper feast! NBC Seafood Restaurant has been around forever, and is not trying to reinvent anything. Though not consistently on the radar of food enthusiasts, this meal at NBC aptly demonstrates how great execution of classics will always withstand the test of time. Service was very attentive, despite an absolutely crazy-packed house that night. We ate like emperors. And since we ordered a la carte (outside a pre-set banquet menu), the bill came out to a very reasonable $460 (with 3 beers and free corkage, before tip) for our table of 10!
NBC Seafood Restaurant
404 S. Atlantic Bl.
Monterey Park, CA 91754