Monday, January 26, 2009

Capital Seafood -- ushering in the year of the ox


Capital Seafood
2700 Alton Parkway, Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 252-8188


Chinese New Year 2009, year of the Ox. For me, Chinese New Year has never been the same since I moved away from Asia. The first day of new year is always a time shared with family, friends and relatives, enjoying good food and great
company. In America, it is a day like any other, most people have to go to work and there isn't that feeling of celebration in the air. I was about to just spend it at home when a friend asked us to go to dinner at Capital Seafood which had recently opened in Irvine.

I was surprised at how 'luxurious' the restaurant looked on the inside. It reminded us of how restaurants looked like in Vegas. The servers were very polite -- maybe a little TOO poli
te as they came over to take our order. Everyone had ideas as to what they wanted to eat so we ended up with a lazy Susan full of food.

Peking duck is on special from Monday to Friday for dinner at a ridiculously low pric
e of $13. I'm not sure how long this will last, but for as long as they have this special, you should just order it. The duck isn't fatty at all and the skin is really quite lovely sandwiched between the soft pillowy buns they give you. Add a dollop of hoisin sauce, a few strips of scallions and take a bite!! It's really quite delicious!

We also tried their barbecued items: roast pork, cha siu and soya chicken. All three were above average although I thought the ginger scallion sauce was very weak. I make a far better one than the one they serve here.

Fish maw and crab meat soup was quite tasty as well. They use real crab although it did taste like it had been previously frozen, but at least they didn't use imitation crab. They were also pretty generous with the fish maw.

Japanese style mushrooms and tofu was delicious! It was served with broccoli florets and drizzled with an oyster sauce. The tofu was so soft and silky while the mixed mushrooms consisted of various Japanese mushrooms like shimeiji, King oyster, shiitake and button
.

Salt & pepper chicken wings -- a favorite of my friend's -- is an appetizer and they do it extremely well here. The exterior is crispy and dry while the inside is nice and moist. I detected a few chicken 'hairs' as one would at any respectable Chinese establishment, so I as lucky I found one without those extras if you know what I mean.

Honey walnut shrimp is a dish I detest! However, everyone wanted it so it was fine by me. I did try it and I'll have to say it was one of the better ones I've tasted. I do not like mayonaise which is probably why I usually don't like this dish, however, they weren't heavy handed with the mayo and the shrimp were very crispy and fresh. The weirdest part of it all was that there were diced cantaloupe and honeydew melon in this dish as well.

The only disappointing item of the evening was the steamed tilapia. Not only did it take forever to arrive, but the seasoning was just wrong. First of all they didn't use the right type of soy sauce, secondly, they didn't use enough of it, and thirdly they did not use scalding hot oil to drizzle over the top of the scallions to give it that finishing touch. Very very disappointing especially when they had actually steamed the fish to perfection.

We were all quite pleased that Irvine finally has a decent Chinese restaurant and although we weren't happy with the steamed fish, we unanimously felt that everything else we had was very good. We'll definitely have to come back for dim sum next time to see how that compares.

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