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NBC Seafood Restaurant (Monterey Park CA)
||404-A South Atlantic Bolevard,|
Monterey Park, CA
Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2004 Issue: 11(2) page: 25 and 33
NBC Seafood Restaurant was, we are told, an oldie. We find it bustling and busy, and quite popular. Their 'Deem Sum Menu,' as they call it, also has pictures. You need, however, to request a copy. Most folk at the other tables neither need nor want it. Many are repeat customers who need it not. Each table does sport a small plasticized tent-folded item with words and prices; and the dim sum comes on carts, no matter which of the three large dining rooms you get seated in.
There is was a typical menu with dishes at more typical prices starting at $1.90 and not $3.60 as they are at Mission 261 nearby in San Gabriel. Other dishes here do cost one, two, three dollars more, but beginning at a lower base really does matter. Comparison shopping can make a difference, as do other factors. NBC is in a large shopping center a few blocks in from Garvey, and over the years, has expanded to fill more than half the center's space, movie theater and all. Now they seat more than four hundred folk, and at tables lots closer than at Mission 261.
This NBC opens at eight each morning. It was recently refurbished but with heavy traffic starting that early, even that is beginning to take its toll. It could use cleaner bathrooms and a lower noise level. Some find the noise a plus because noisy folk are said to be having a better time that quiet ones. As to their sanitary efforts, many care about only those in the kitchen, and this one is very clean.
Overall, dim sum at NBC was better made, portions about the same size, and very few have parsley, fancy-cut pepper strips, or carrot cut-outs decorating their plates. For lunch or dinner, NBC's foods are classic Hong Kong Cantonese, and all are tasty. While waiters do not bring dim sum, as they did at the Mission, all cand be selected from rolling carts, are readily available, and if you want to order special things or items that are not being wheeled around, just ask.
We never needed to request a fill-up for our teapot, a clean napkin, or a clean plate when the latter was sauce-laden. Service is professional, prompt, and caring. The tea is not as fancy and the ordinary kind only costs sixty cents a head.
Stewed Chicken Feet at NBC are loaded with black bean sauce and are yummy. The Pork Sil Myl, really shu mai is not. It is made with a dough that is tough, probably over-handled. But it is the only item we fault. The B.B.Q. Pork, Duck, and Goose, and the Soy Sauce Chicken are excellent. Congee, called Pork Porridge here, is long-cooked, its mouth-feel luscious, its price less than half than at Mission 261.
One of our favorite dim sum dishes is Shark's Fin Dumpling in Soup. Not every eatery, big or small, takes the time to make this dish, except on advance notice. They are on the menu at NBC, and though expensive, full of strands of shark's fin and absolutely wonderful. We pig out, as we often do, and had two! At the Mission and at NBC, we also have a lotus leaf stuffed with rice and more. At NBC it arrives properly, not lined with paper, probably parchment paper, as it was at the Mission. It does have the requisite taste from the lotus leaf. At the Mission, that flavor never transfers to the rice because of its paper-lining; or maybe its reuse.
There are newer tastes at NBC, and a special menu for this, the first month of the Monkey Year. It has twenty dinner dishes available from open to close at the lucky-number-price of $8.80. Abalone Mushrooms with Mustard Greens can not be better. Live fish are priced per pound, and one morning when alone, a tiny swimmer weighing not quite one pound is brought to the table; they charge accordingly. That same time, the Seafood with Scrambled Egg Whites are loaded with shrimp; the Scallops with Garden Vegetables piled high with eleven of them. What a wonderful breakfast that is eating dim sum and dinner dishes together.
NBC does have a wine list, and a couple of beer choices. Like the rest of the prices, that day they feature an affordable Paul Masson at $9.90, the bottle. Asking the manager why not $8.80, he laughes, says he would check the price to see if they might have such a bargain, but probably not until next year.
We have mostly good food in lots of places in the Southern California places we go to. At one or two recommended places it tanks, but in general, the places beat any we try in downtown Los Angeles or in Rosemead, Cerritos, Irvine, or the other places we visite.
You can find a few other eateries in the area by consulting the website and clicking on the ten-year index. There you will see we have not done southern California justice. This trip and tasting can help rectify that. Friends and relatives please make the beds, we will be back!
In the meantime, we read Carl Chu's Finding Chinese Food In Los Angeles; it is reviewed in this issue. We do wish other cities had such a valuable guide. We use the 2003 edition and hoe that Chu updates it soon. When he does, if he sends a copy, we will use it when we return; you should too!