This was not the first restaurant meal we ate on this trip to Los Angeles (now at the halfway point) or even the second, third, fourth or fifth. But today is Christmas and having posted a review of a Christmas-themed malt yesterday I feel I should keep the Christmas spirit flowing with a review of a meal at a Chinese restaurant. And so this brief account of a meal at the Arcadia location of Capital Seafood.
Dim sum is always one of the things we most look forward to eating when we visit Los Angeles. (I will spare you another installment of my very popular views about dim sum in Minnesota.) We usually hit up one of our San Gabriel Valley mainstays—Sea Harbour, Elite or Lunasia—but in these times the most important criterion for us is outdoor dining and from what I could find out it appears that Capital Seafood’s Arcadia location might be the only place in the SGV that has a patio and takes reservations for parties of eight and up. As we were going to be a party of eight I called a week ago and made the reservation for a patio table.
Then there was rain forecast for Wednesday evening continuing fitfully through the weekend. And boy, did it rain on Thursday! Pictures online suggested that the restaurant’s patio was covered but I was still relieved when the rain stopped much earlier on Friday morning than had originally been forecast. As it happens the patio is enclosed and covered. So much so in fact that when we got there it didn’t seem like there was an effective difference between sitting on the patio and sitting indoors. And the hostess said it would not be possible to raise the blinds and open the patio windows as it was raining. It was not raining. Thankfully, a managerial type who took our tea order was more amenable to our request and cranked the large windows behind us open. And so we were able to enjoy a stress-free meal. (I should add that there was no checking of proof of vaccination at the restaurant just as there hasn’t been anywhere so far except at the one place we’ve eaten at in Los Angeles proper.)
We sat down, got some tea and some beer and then got down to bidness. As at all the better places in the SGV dim sum is not served on carts at Capital Seafood; you fill out your order sheet and things come out fresh from the kitchen. There is a helpful picture menu to go with the order sheet in case you’re not sure what things look like. The menu itself is not small but also not one of the largest in the area. Nor are there very many things on it that speak of cheffy flourishes or fusiony innovation (as you can find at Sea Harbour and also some of the newer places we haven’t yet been to). Accordingly, we restricted ourselves mostly to the greatest hits and family favourites.
There were, as I said, eight of us eating. Three kids and five adults. To be safe I ordered as though we were a party of 10 adults. It’s the right thing to do. The following is what we got:
- Congee/rice porridge with preserved egg and shredded pork. There was something about the texture that was a bit off for me but the flavour was very good.
- Steamed spare ribs. These were excellent. And they were steamed alongside cubes of squash that were also extremely tasty.
- Chicken feet with house sauce. These were just excellent. The feet were braised perfectly and the sauce clinging to them was not cloying at all.
- Har Gow. We ended up with three orders of these as they were quite good—not over-steamed as can often happen.
- Pork Shiu Mail. We also got three orders of these, as our boys can inhale them at a frightening rate. Also very good.
- Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice. Another favourite, this was done very well here, the rice at just the right texture.
- Steamed pork dumpling. The picture menu revealed that these were the mini-soup dumplings available at all the dim sum houses. They never quite satisfy as much as the properly-sized ones but these were more than decent. We had two orders and had no trouble finishing them all.
- Minced pork, dried shrimp and peanut dumpling. Usually on menus as Chiu Chow dumplings these were a major highlight of the meal.
- Steamed shrimp dumplings with sticky rice. I did not get a taste of these but the kids assured me they were very good.
- Turnip cake. A dim sum classic, done quite well.
- Shrimp and chive dumpling. Little squat potstickers, these were very good too and we devoured both orders.
- Rice noodles with shrimp. Another dim sum classic done well.
- Steamed Chinese broccoli. Likewise.
- Crispy honey glazed roast pork. Quite tasty but by the time it showed towards the end of the meal we were all rather stuffed.
- Salt & Pepper Smelt. One of our absolute favourites, this was rather excellent.
- Fried rice with dried scallop and egg. Also excellent.
- Baked bbq pork pastry. Also rather good.
- Steamed egg custard bun. This was fine—the interior was not as oozy as I like.
- Salted egg yolk custard bun. I actually ordered these by mistake but a good thing too as we all preferred this baked version to the other egg yolk bun.
- Baked egg custard tart. A classic end. Not the best I’ve had in the SGV but also not the worst.
For a look at the restaurant, the menu and what we ate, launch the slideshow below. Please excuse the quality of the pics. Between the yellow light in the restaurants and the natural light flowing in from the windows my crappy camera’s ability to set white balance was quite defeated.
Scroll down for thoughts on the meal as a whole and to see how much (I think) it all cost.
So, as you can tell from my notes above, we thought this was a very good meal. It’s not quite on the level of the meals we’ve had in the past at Sea Harbour, Elite and Lunasia—of course those were all 3 years and more ago—but not very far below them either. From what I hear there are a couple of newer places now that might be at the very top of the dim sum food chain in the SGV. Which means Capital Seafood is likely in the third tier. All that tells you is how good the dim sum scene in the SGV is these days. And, of course, Capital Seafood is so far above anything available in Minnesota that comparisons are laughable. Memories of this meal will have to sustain us till our next trip to Los Angeles, which—pandemic willing—will be in less than a year.
Cost? One of our friends intercepted the check but I suspect that if eaten by the number of adults who could have done justice to it (we brought leftovers home) it would end up in the $24/head range. Which is very good for the quality and quantity of what we ate (and there were three beers in there too).
Okay, what next from Los Angeles? Japanese, Mexican or Indian? If you have a preference let me know in the comments. Tomorrow I’ll have my last Twin Cities food post of the year.