Thursday, November 12, 2009

Newport Tan Cang Seafood, San Gabriel CA

I watched way too many Anthony Bourdain episodes last night. This streaming from Netflix jeopardized all that hard work...PKA (Project Kick Ass) was assured of failure post-Bourdain. So a "blogging lunch" is inevitable. I had to keep my sanity before I got to Newport. I was craving. I was hungry. I was salivating. I was ready to devour.I was told that lunch here was not to be missed. Cheap and good. Two words that entice me endless, bother me continuously, haunt me about a place that only the satisfaction of an experience would suffice.
I entered and was immediately drawn to the tank filled with overweight lobsters calling my name. But my goal today is to prove the validity of this cheap and good premise. The free hot and sour soup came first. FREE...that's cheap in my book. $5.75 and $6.25 lunch specials. That's also cheap, considering the recent recession and all...local Chinese food "combo-place" prices inside a very decently designed and appropriately decorated sit-down restaurant. Now to finally taste this GOOD I've been hearing about.
Kung pao was usual; salty and not even spicy. A taste I would find at any "combo-place" around the corner. Personally, I am not much of a fan of the dish and so the bias has taken over even before i put a spoonful inside my mouth.
Salt and pepper fried pork this is what I'm talking about. Crispy outside with a very tender pork inside. It was breaded ever so lightly and served with salt and pepper on the side for dipping or to pour on top of the whole plate. I can almost see the calories but with complete disregard I forged on bite by bite. But since I am a porkaholic it's not hard to make a believer out of me. (Note: i finished the whole plate, to the last bite...well, i did share maybe a piece or two).
Fish/Clams with basil and garlic...both the fish and clams were tender and swimming in a savory, garlicky basil sauce that marries well with either protein. Without the pork chops, i would have been satisfied with a plate of either the fish or clam.
Broccoli with oyster sauce...I know it's a very typical Chinese dish you can get at Panda Express but I was not the only one at the table so I had to try this plate anyway. Panda Express is walking distance from my house. If time comes when I would be in dire need of this dish, I would burn calories and walk to Panda Express and get my fix.
Pea sprouts...Joe's favorite item to order. He said it was good. I say it is pea sprouts.
Shrimp fried rice...their fried rice was filled with enough shrimp and add-ons. I mean, don't you get tired of ordering this dish and get two or three pieces of shrimp? Newport's shrimp fried rice IS shrimp fried rice.
Shrimp and scrambled eggs...simple but good. I know i could have easily made this dish at home as I make Chinese scrambled eggs most brunch days but something about Newport's that just made me sigh. Maybe because it was FULL of sweet, perfectly cooked shrimp. Plump and succulent. Ugh...I'm a sucker for excess.
BOBA...they give you a separate menu for this and it comes in a to-go bag. It may have come from another location but when it comes to boba i usually don't care. I got the durian and it was interesting. Nothing against Newport but my choice of fruit was not exactly the most edible. It tasted like sweetened onions with a very indescribable aftertaste. Go figure me.
In conclusion...I have found that this place is CHEAP and GOOD. For the money you would pay for lunch, this place is indeed an excellent location to satisfy the stomachs of many foodies. Food is good as we did not ask for any to-go boxes even though the portions were considerably larger than the usual lunch plates. The place has either comfy diner booths or large tables that can accommodate a family of many and all male employees that provide fast and friendly service. I would go back again but maybe only for lunch. I heard the place gets packed for dinner and the prices are double so it may not be worth the drive (especially with Mayflower and Coral Reef around the corner).
So if you're looking for an Anthony Bourdain moment filled with witty retorts and charming remarks then Newport is not your muse. At least, it was not mine. On to the next No Reservations conquest.