Lookng for fish centric restaurant in San Gabriel Valley

I never get to the San Gabriel Valley because I’m lazy and I hate to drive, and thus I really don’t know any of the restaurants in the area. But next month I will find myself in the San Gabriel Valley for an obligation and, of course, will want to make the obligation go down easier by finding an amazing restaurant. I’ll also be with a native Mandarin speaker if that helps things.

I’m pretty uninformed about Chinese cuisine. I also don’t eat meat, although I do eat fish and occasionally chicken. I’m also trying to shed a few pounds at the moment by limiting carbs, so noodles and dumplings are out. I know all of the foregoing greatly limits my options.

Last year, we went to Hunan Mao, which left me deeply unimpressed although I love spicy food.

What are my amazing options?

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since you like spicy, you might consider sichuan pan roasted fish. it’s a relatively new craze, @JThur01 did a recent article about it in eater. most places do a whole fish and it’s not cheap.however, the chain sichuan kungfu fish (branch at the santa anita mall) serves portions of fish which allows for a more affordable entry point.

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I found the Eater article. https://la.eater.com/2019/12/4/20870834/pan-roasted-fish-san-gabriel-valley-sichuan

This sounds like it might be up my alley.

Another thought are there any good fish soup places in the SGV?

can’t think of a fish soup dish per se, but most hunan places do a spicy fish head soup/casserole. you might try dong ting chun in focus plaza (del mar & valley). kinda salty though.

japanese (sushi) places will have fish soup, but not on the menu; usually as part of the staff meal. i sometimes got some as a freebie at the chef’s discretion.

EDIT: i take that back; there’s a place in the ESGV that does a tomato salmon soup. @chandavkl should remember; it’s a favorite of his. that reminds me; the vietnamese make a number of fish based soups and there are fair number of vietnamese/chinese places in the el monte area.

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one last thought: ritter’s steam kettle. seafood, soul food and you can try the bouillabaisse. or go french for the bouillabaisse. won’t be asian, but for fish, i can’t think of too many chinese options.

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Ha, not usually a big fan of Yelp, but the first Yelp review I pulled up said, “Mehhh
taste: is alright, but will not come back again. Everything is too salty and too oily.”

That’s what I remember about Hunan Mao where I went last year - no finesse to the cooking and just oily and salty.

Seems a waste to waste a trip to SGV with a native Mandarin speaker for French or Cajun as I was thinking that with someone who spoke the language, I might have access to “secret” menus that I couldn’t access on my own.

What about seafood palace in Monterey Park? Or Newport Seafood/Boston Lobster?

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Seafood Palace has great fish and other seafood, especially their house special crab, which is a version of Typhoon Shelter Crab. If you are not doing carbs you will miss the delight of mixing the deep fried garlic into your rice. So very good…

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I think Sea Harbour is the best seafood restaurant in the SGV, by far.

Hunan is generally going to be saltier and oilier, though some places are less so than others. When I went to Hunan Mao this past Summer, it wasn’t as good as earlier, because it had been sold and was under new ownership. It’s also going by Mao Jia now, despite the Hunan Mao signage.

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I had my excursion in the San Gabriel Valley and changed directions and decided that instead of fish, I would like to try a Taiwanese oyster omelette because I love egg dishes.

We headed over to Huge Tree Pastry in Monterey Park, where I was eager to try the oyster omelette, as well as the soy milk that people seem to like. Alas, it was not to be. The place closes at 4:30 p.m. and we arrived around 4:10 p.m. and were told we could only order to go, which I was not interested in doing.

So we headed across the street to the Atlantic Times Square Mall where we ate at Nice Time Cafe, which according to its website “has served authentic Taiwanese cuisine to the San Gabriel Valley since 1988.”

The first thing of note was that the menu was huge. Kind of reminded me of a New York diner with a menu of a dozen pages and you wonder how everything could be possibly be good with a menu of that breadth.

We ordered oyster omelette, stinky tofu, bitter melon with tiny pieces of hard boiled egg whites and a fourth dish which if it had an English name, I did not catch it. The fourth dish (more about that below) was my favorite.

Let’s start with the stinky tofu. I hated it! And I was fascinated why I hated it because I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why I found it so noxious. It came in some sort of broth and had some sort of edible fungus in it. I’m not adverse to stinky foods – I love Japanese natto – but I literally found the tofu noxious and couldn’t eat it.

The oyster omelette was an interesting experience and since this was my first one, I have no idea where it ranked on the quality scale of oyster omelettes, but my dining companion, who was born and raised in Taiwan, said it was pretty typical Taiwanese oyster omelette. I wasn’t in love with it. The oysters were straight from a can and it was pretty un-eggy compared to an American or French omelette. The starch that apparently is used to hold the thing together gave it a weird and unpleasant texture in my opinion. The whole thing is topped with this very sweet sauce that was somewhat reminiscent of ketchup, only even sweeter. The only way I could eat the dish was to swipe off that sauce and then I doused it with the hot sauce on the table, which appalled my dining companion as he said that Taiwanese oyster omelette is definitely not eaten topped with hot sauce.

The bitter melon with hard boiled egg whites was boring and bland, but I have been on a health kick lately and bitter melon is really good for you, so it wasn’t a total loss. The dish was not inedible.

On to the fourth dish – the only one I really liked. This had small pieces of dry tofu, pig ears (which I didn’t eat since I do not eat pork - I picked around them), and lots of cilantro and some other spices that I couldn’t identify. It just had a nice herbaceous taste that reminded me somewhat of Vietnamese cuisine. My dining companion picked off the cilantro and left it on his plate, insisting that it was only for garnish and wasn’t supposed to be eaten, but I happily ate the cilantro.

Anyway, so many dishes on the menu at Nice Time Cafe that I think you could eat there everyday for a year and not eat them all.

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