If you're craving fresh seafood and have a chance to drive to Westminster you must try "Sea Food Cove Chinese Restaurant"! The restaurant (formerly Dragon Phoenix) is adjacent to the Asian Garden Mall, located upstairs in a strip mall in the heart of the Vietnamese community and shares a parking lot with the infamous live seafood grocery store,"A Dong Market" (come now ladies, no giggling). Once you exit the 405 freeway and head towards Bolsa Avenue and Brookhurst Street, you'll feel as if you have arrived in Saigon City, Vietnam (less the hundreds of scooters on the streets). No kidding.
Entering the restaurant can be a challenge for those who try to avoid stairs since a spiral staircase greets you at the door along with a counter where a server mixes up fresh juices of coconut (succulant slices of fresh coconut meat included in your juice...and my favorite), watermelon, orange, and tasty Ca Phe Sua Da the traditional Vietnamese iced coffee. Once at the top of the stairs, a beautiful crystal chandelier beacons you into a world of exquisite smells...keep treking, the food and experience is worth the stair hike. For the cardio challenged, there is an elevator to wisk you to dinner should you have trouble with the staircase. The wait is anywhere from a couple of minutes to 20 minutes depending on the time you arrive. My party of 3 walked right in and we were seated immediately.
The smorgasbord of food included: Thai Style Hot & Sour Soup w/Coconut Milk and Shrimp; House Special Lobster; Shrimp & String Bean w/Garlic Sauce; Hot & Sour Fried Whole Fish; Sauteed Pea Sprouts w/Garlic (love the golden brown garlic!!); traditional Steamed White Rice and TsingTao Chinese Beers.
My Thai Style Hot & Sour Soup was just exquisite with flavors that teased my tongue! The soup was served steaming hot family style and had large pink succulant shrimp floating in a perfect combination of lemon grass, coconut milk, fresh jalapeno pepper slices and fresh thai basil. Very exotic and delicious! I have leftovers for my lunch today...yeah!
Should you order the House Special Lobster, you have your choice of live lobsters in a tank to pick from (small lobsters are sweeter and more tender). Once chosen, the lobster is coated with cornstarch for a light, crisp coating then hot wok fried in vegetable oil with fresh garlic, jalapeno peppers and a dash of sesame oil. I never lick my fingers but this dish had me tossing my dining manners out the door (sorry Emily Post) and I licked my fingers till I could lick no more! The lobster was fit for a king and, shall I say, finger licking good!
Flounder was the fish for our Hot & Sour Fried Whole Fish. The fresh whole fish was quick sauteed in hot oil creating a lovely, crispy skin and laddled with fresh sliced red & green jalapeno peppers then topped off with a thin red sauce. You will find that fresh sliced peppers are used in many of the dishes at Sea Food Cove so if your palette is sensitive to capsaicin and high scoville units you may want to avoid eating the peppers (oh baby...I love it HOT!). Although the fish is not described as sweet, I tasted a hint of sweetness making a perfect combination with the spicey peppers.
I don't want to keep anyone from eating sauteed pea sprouts but they kind of resemble freshly mowed grass...and, I love them!! Usually they're just steamed with a simple flavor but at Sea Food Cove they offer them lightly sauteed with garlic chips. Every tendril of beautiful bright green pea sprout is seriously scrumptious!
There's no way I can tell you how the Shrimp and String Beans dish was since the shrimp arrived at our table way too late and my dining party was stuffed to the gills (imagine) unable to eat one more bite. Based on the appearance and aromatic scent of the shrimp dish and how the other dishes tasted, I'm sure they'll be fabulous as leftovers.
For the food bon vivant challenged who don't frequent Vietnamese eateries, a typical favorite dessert is Tapioca Soup served hot (and, yes, another favorite dessert of mine). I also discovered Sea Food Cove makes their tapioca soup with tapioca, duh...obviously, fresh seaweed, sugared water and fresh green beans. And, yes, I said, "green beans" which are pulverized to create a broth for the soup base. The soup was lightly sweetened and had a nice creamy consistency...I savored every drop of my hot dessert soup while my two dining guests passed their portions to me (must kick up the fat burning mode on my cardio machine). My tapioca soup was ambrosial...more, I want more!!.
And, at times when I'm craving veggie and vegan food I can also order several of the many veggie dishes on the menu which include tofu and buckwheat noodles. I counted 9 different veggie dishes on the menu.
Please don't hesitate to try Sea Food Cove Chinese Restaurant. The costs of the live lobster was only $10.99 per lb. and everything else on the menu is very reasonably priced. They have my vote of excellence!!