Finally, the Chris Hei has returned to Newport Seafood! It’s been about two years since I last went (I believe it was after my graduation), and I had been dreaming about their food, particular their famous lobster, in these last two years. I believe my mom had actually went a few times since my last visit, but she was being a negligent and selfish mother in not inviting me. But to celebrate father’s day with my grandpa, she made the smart decision for us to go to Newport instead of the Shanghai restaurants we usually frequent. Thank goodness!
Newport Seafood is an extremely popular Chinese-cum-Vietnamese seafood restaurant that is located on Las Tunas Dr., at what used to be a Marie Calendar’s (you can see the famed a-frame structure still, though they’ve done a good job making the place look fairly Chinese). I used to go a lot when they were in the plaza a few blocks away from their current location, the same one as Golden Deli. But Newport and I had fallen apart in recent years. Not because of the food – it has always been excellent. I guess it’s like when you and your friends go to separate colleges. You swear that you’re going to stay in touch, but eventually you just drift apart from each other. That doesn’t excuse from the crime I’ve committed in not returning though. However, I was determined to make up for lost time on this visit.
Elephant Clam Sashimi 2 Style (seasonal price – $80) – This is what I meant when I said that we were determined to make up for lost time. Besides the lobster, this is the other dish that the ballers order when they’re at Newport. The first style of elephant clam (geoduck) is thin slices of it that can either be sauteed, sashimi or steamed. The second style is the meat inside of the shell (not sure, but I know it’s from a different part of geoduck as opposed to the first style, which is from the siphon I believe) either fried or in a soup. We chose the sashimi and fried styles (latter not pictured). The sashimi slices were really fresh and had a nice crunch, and I can just eat the fried balls and not get bored of it. An awesome twosome.
Clam with Spicy Hot Sauce ($11) – The clams weren’t really all that spicy. Most of the heat came from these green chiles that weren’t very spicy, but gave it a nice kick. There were also plenty of basil, garlic and ginger in the sauce. Very straightforward, just a well-executed dish that was full of ocean clammy flavors. This dish, along with the beef and lobster, are the dishes I’ve had every time I’ve been here (at both locations). The clams were pretty big, too. I would like to note that all of the seafood at Newport is of very good quality and extremely fresh. Really can’t go wrong with any of these seafood dishes.
Newport Special Lobster (seasonal price – $80) – This is the dish everyone HAS to get here. No joke, every table at the restaurant had an order. The five of us got a medium sized one (5 lbs., so I believe the market price was $16/lb.), and we demolished the plate (see the last photo). We even finished the garlic, scallions, etc. on the plate with multiple bowls of white rice. I’m not exactly sure how the lobster is prepared (and the restaurant holds the recipe pretty close to the chest), but there’s a lot of garlic, pepper, scallions, and lobster roe (yum). And I’ve always speculated that there could be some fish sauce and even butter in this dish (amongst other drugs that get you hooked), but don’t quote me on that. This, in my opinion, is one of the best dishes I’ve had in L.A.
The other dishes we order that I didn’t get a chance to photograph due to being busy eating are the Beef Loc Lac French Style ($12) and a string bean dish that isn’t on the menu (they just asked if we wanted a veggie dish, and my grandpa was feelin’ string beans). The beef dish is up there with the lobster and the geoduck – cubes of filet mignon in a pepper sauce with a hint of what I believe was butter. There’s a reason we order this every time. As for the string beans, they were kind of a letdown, especially being served last after the plethora of delicious food before it. It wasn’t bad, but way too salty though, and nothing special.
I really didn’t want to do this, but Newport has left me with no choice. I had wanted to save the elusive “A” grade for something breathtaking, and expected to experience that at a fine dining institution (how snobby of me). But that was exactly what Newport was able to accomplish on our visit this time. No wonder why it has continued to be packed at all hours of operations (we went before 5pm and there was still a full house), and deservingly so. I vow to make more frequent visits here, as long as the quality of the food is upheld. And after all these years, there are no signs of said quality decreasing.
Chris Hei grade: A
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
518 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Note: credit EileenLikesToEat on Flickr for the first photo.