Si Hai/Four Sea (Los Angeles, July/August 2014)

Four Sea ExteriorThis is the penultimate food report from our recent Los Angeles trip. This meal slot was to have been occupied by a return to one of our old favourites, Chung King, but after the havoc wreaked on our system earlier in the week by lunches at two Thai restaurants, Chengdu Taste and Hunan Mao (not to mention leftovers at night) we decided to go for something milder. And so we washed up at the San Gabriel outpost of Four Sea/Si Hai for Taiwanese breakfast (the original is in Hacienda Heights).

(By the way, I’d noted in my review of Chung King last year that they didn’t seem to have a lot of business at weekday lunch and had speculated that they must be doing much better at dinner and on weekends, given the high rate of turnover in the SGV for places that aren’t popular. For what it’s worth as we drove by Chung King on the way to Si Hai at noon on a Saturday there didn’t appear to be any more action there (no one outside, not many cars in the adjoining parking). Can anyone who’s been recently comment?)

Things to know:

1. The storefront only says Si Hai.

2. There are not that many people behind the counter who speak very much English. This is an issue for those who don’t speak the relevant Chinese dialect* because you order and pay at the counter. The woman taking the orders that morning had no English at all (and I have no Chinese of any kind at all) and it was a bit of a struggle. Oddly enough, there was another woman behind the counter who understood pretty much everything I was saying but rather than intervene directly she would wait on each occasion for the other woman to admit defeat before translating for her. It should be noted, of course, that most their regular clientele does not have this language problem. It should also be noted that she was as good humoured about our little sojourn in the Tower of Babel as I was and there were no mistakes in the orders. (She did get a panicked look briefly when I showed up 10 minutes after our first order to place a second.)

As always, please click on an image below to launch a larger slideshow with captions/descriptions.

All of this, and we took a little bit home, cost just above $30 with tip. It was not an exceptional meal, but everything was good, some things very good and, on the whole, it was just what we needed that morning. And it’s good to go to the SGV for more than Sichuan, Hunan and dim sum from time to time.

*This originally read “Cantonese”; it was pointed out to me by an alert reader that if these people from Taiwan they are more likely to speak Taiwanese. However, as I don’t know which dialect the people I was dealing with were actually speaking, I’ve left it unclear.

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