But my cousin's friend hasn't been back in town in months and my cousin's cousin invited me out to dinner at Kim Tar. So of course I went. I called my cousin's friend to get recommendations for the Cambodian off-menu items, but he didn't call me back until after we had already ordered. So next time perhaps?
Of course, no seafood restaurant is complete without live fish tanks. Notice in the bottom right corner? They were filling jars and jars of fresh jalapenos for the tables.
We went in the late afternoon, around 4 p.m. so there were only a few other diners. They offered us the lunch menu which had some good deals, but my cousin's cousin wanted to order a special squid dish that her kids liked. Unfortunately, the dinner chef hadn't started yet. Seems obvious but just so you know, there is a different chef for lunch and for dinner, with different specialties.
My cousin's cousin ordered the 4-course $48.95 family meal that included sauteed clams, fried shrimp, deep-fried fish, and sour fish soup.
Ngheu hoac chem chep xao la que (Vietnamese clams or mussels sauteed with basil sauce). Yummy. The clams were nice and large and the basil sauce was a nice contrast. So far, definitely way better in appearance and taste than Battambang.
Ca hap hoac ca chien chua cay (Vietnamese steamed or fried fish with sour spicy sauce). The flounder was huge, lightly battered, and fried to a hard crisp.
After it reached our table, the waiter poured the spicy sour cilantro green onion sauce on top.
A close-up of the gorgeous frying. The sauce was so good, just slightly sour but not too much. Not really that spicy but there were plenty of chili peppers at the table to remedy that.
Tom Rang Muoi (Vietnamese Shrimp Fried with Salt). This is a fairly common item. Large shrimp. Nicely fried.
Canh Chua Ca (Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup). You can order it Vietnamese or Thai style. Lots and lots of bac ha (Vietnamese taro stem). Large filets of catfish, tomatoes, and pineapples in the soup. This came out in a really huge pot with a gel burner underneath to keep it bubbling. There was so much food that my cousin's cousin called her husband to come help us eat. :P
Muc rang muoi (Vietnamese deep-fried squid with salt). A tad too salty, but nicely crispy. This dish was ordered in addition to the family meal. The kids wanted the dinner squid special, but as I said, the lunch chef was different and didn't know how to make it. I tried asking my cousin's cousin but she couldn't quite describe how it was prepared. She said they just order "squid" during dinner time and always got the other squid dish.
Complimentary dessert of green tea and tapioca pudding.
Overall, I thought the seafood was very fresh and I loved the deep-fried flounder with that sour spicy sauce. I would go back just for the flounder alone.
Kim Tar Seafood Restaurant
964 E. Garvey Ave.
Monterey Park, CA 91755
Other Chinese-Vietnamese restaurants owned by Chinese-Cambodians:
Battambang Seafood Restaurant - San Gabriel
1 year ago today, mochi ice cream at Mikawaya - Los Angeles (Little Tokyo).