Tuesday, January 27, 2009

NBC Seafood Restaurant - Monterey Park

This was actually the Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) banquet for the Year of the Rat in 2008. The Chinese association from my hometown in South-Central Vietnam holds a banquet each lunar new year to award 6th to 12th graders who received good grades. I know! So Asian of them!

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When I first moved to Southern California, most of my cousins were still little and it was fun to see them on stage receiving their awards every year. Now, the youngest cousin is almost done with high school and few of my cousins attend the banquets any longer.

My oldest uncle invited me to attend since he was at a table with his in-laws. When you're from a small town, almost everyone knows each other. Add in the fact that the ethnic Chinese-Vietnamese were all pushed out around the same time and the world gets even smaller.

There were already two older ladies when we sat down at our table.

"Who's that?" they asked my uncle.

He said my dad's name.

And they knew exactly who I was. Turns out, we were all on the same boat. Literally. ('79er by way of Hong Kong.)

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The banquet was a little poignant for me. My ba noi (Vietnamese paternal grandmother) used to love attending these events. She loved catching up with her friends and awarding one of the kids for their good grades. That evening, as I looked around at the familiar faces I've grown up seeing all my life, I was struck by how many faces I didn't see anymore. But also, I saw lots of my cousins' cousins and their kids, who I remember when they were just babies.

Community and connections.

The evening started off with dragon/lion dancers.

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And a little video if you want to see them in action.

The menu was already set in advance, but I imagine it wouldn't be that different from a wedding banquet menu, in case you were interested.

Cold cuts platter with roast duck, jelly fish, and head cheese.

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Honey walnuts and mayonnaise shrimp. A little heavy on the mayonnaise.

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Scallops and mushrooms.

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Not quite hot and sour soup, but all the usual ingredients.

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Stir-fried mushrooms and baby bok choy.

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Lobster! For some reason, I find that little umbrella hilarious!

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Crispy chicken with shrimp chips.

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Red bean pudding for dessert.

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After three underwhelming visits to NBC for their dim sum, I wasn't expecting much from this dinner. Everything was fine, good, just not spectacular. I think too many of the old school dim sum/seafood restaurants have been resting on their laurels. A decade ago, I would have waited and waited for a spot and been more than satisfied with my meal. Nowadays, the newer, smaller Chinese dim sum/seafood restaurants are turning out better quality dishes.

Other Chinese seafood restaurant posts:

NBC Seafood Restaurant
404-A S. Atlantic Boulevard
Monterey Park, CA 91754-3279
Dim sum 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dinner 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

1 year ago today, tom xao bo (Vietnamese shrimp sauteed in butter).
2 years ago today, Le Cupcake - Santa Monica (Closed).


  1. It has been so long since I've been here!

    I like your lion pics.

  2. Looks alright to me, but nothing special. Just went to Elite last weekend- they seem to be also resting on their laurels now. :( Bad! No wonder why there was no wait compared to their dim sum in September.

    It's been YEARS since I've been to NBC. The last time I actually ate there was before they renovated the exterior. Still remember the days enjoying freshly cooked geoduck while having dim sum. So good!

  3. Weezer Monkey,
    NBC used to be THE dim sum restaurant for me and my family a decade ago. Now, I never go.

    Elite was better maybe a few years ago? Last time I was there, I saw them running a special on lobsters for $5 if you spend $40 on dinner. Hard times for everyone?

    I haven't been back to NBC since before the renovation either. I get free geoducks because my parents dig for them in Oregon. :)

  4. Wandering Chopsticks,
    What a coincidence ;). One of the dishes we ordered was the lobster. Buy one, get one free too for 5 dollars! A steal, but the lobster was overcooked slightly, which was weird as there were only 5 tables with people when we were there.

  5. ETE,
    That's a great deal for lobster. I've never actually had dinner at Elite, only dim sum. The parking lot has looked pretty empty the past few times I've driven by.


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