Everyone, of course, except me.
Yet, I wasn’t the least bit disappointed that I wasn’t eating my weight in dairy on Saturday. I had much bigger fish to fry (and, incidentally, eat) – Cathy of Gastronomy Blog’s long-anticipated wedding, and a reception to follow at New Capital Seafood in the San Gabriel Valley. Grilled cheese had nothing on seeing my dear friend walk down the aisle in one of the most beautiful wedding dresses I’ve ever seen. And it had nothing on the 11-course feast (12 with the sesame balls and red bean pastry bites) that I and the other guests enjoyed at the restaurant that evening.
Despite living in Los Angeles for nearly five years now, Saturday was only my second time eating Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley. I’d had a memorable experience noshing on some roasted duck at Sam Woo last year, but had yet to make the drive back. As embarrassing as this is to admit, the last time I had Chinese was actually at PF Chang’s in September. I stand by those tangy lemon pepper shrimp, but I was still completely and unreasonably overdue for a dose of authentic Chinese in a restaurant that doesn’t belong under the header, “Stuff White People Like.” On Saturday night, New Capital Seafood gave me that dining experience.
To start, there was a barbecue meat platter teaming with duck, pork, beef tendon, and some gelatinous-like strands that looked to me like some sort of sautéed glass noodle or pickled vegetable. I boldly heaped the item onto my plate and was shocked when my date for the evening, Danny from Kung Food Panda, looked at me in surprise and asked, “Diana, you like jelly fish?”
As it turns out, I don’t.
The tender cubes of wok-fried French-style beef that appeared on our table’s Lazy Susan next were far more to my liking. I couldn’t tear my hands away from the serving spoon that accompanied the caramelized nuggets of beef that, given their sweetness, would probably qualify as the aforementioned “Stuff White People Like.” I did, however, pause long enough to savor a taste of the Szechuan-style sautéed prawns that came crowned by a garden of spritely broccoli crowns. The plump shrimp were minimally dressed and seasoned with red pepper flakes – a preparation that showcased the clean flavor and crisp texture of the fresh crustaceans.
A large cauldron of hot and sour soup arrived next – a welcome interruption to the protein-heavy plates that preceded it. Brimming with green onions, supple strands of tofu, pork and wood ear mushrooms, the broth-based soup cleansed my palate and breathed life back into my rapidly filling stomach. I was ready for the Peking duck.
Like with the jelly fish, I had to look to Danny for advice on how to eat the roasted slices of duck and crispy skin.
“Where’s the meat?” I asked in confusion as I lifted a piece of skin with a marginal amount of attached flesh onto my plate.
“The skin is the best part.” He insisted, and then showed me how to fill the accompanying bao (steamed bun) with the duck, green onions and hoisin sauce.
“Just a little!” Danny said, as I readied a heaping spoonful of the hoisin sauce to pour over my skin sandwich. “It’s very salty.”
I nodded, glad that I had him as my Peking duck guide, but also grateful when I could navigate my fork around more familiar territory -- the braised haricot verts that were lavished in a slightly sweetened oyster and soy sauce.
The three courses that followed were, along with the French-style beef, my favorites of the evening. The large chunks of supple lobster adorned with scallions and ginger that I almost mistook for thin slices of fingerling potato made it clear why the restaurant is named New Capital Seafood. Happiness is using one’s fingers to pry the restaurant’s butter-kissed lobster from its shell. Or, at least it was for those of us who weren’t the bride and groom. (I think they most likely had a different interpretation of happiness that evening.)
The final savory courses of the evening – the steamed whole black cod that came bathed in a soy ginger broth and topped with cilantro and scallions, and the cleansing mound of jasmine fried rice were a stunning finish to the meal. Despite my satiation level, I slyly returned for a third helping of the delicate white fish and accompanying broth that I luxuriously spooned over the rice.
While the restaurant also brought out sesame balls, mini red-bean pastries and tofu with ginger for dessert, at this juncture in the evening, my stomach only had eyes for Cathy and Vernon’s pristine three-tier wedding cake that was custom-made by food blogger Sarah the Bear. Sarah made two different filling options for the yellow cake frosted with Italian meringue buttercream – lemon mousse with blackberry jam, and passion fruit curd. Both slices were far more gourmet than any other wedding cake I’ve eaten, but the tartness of the lemon paired with the sweet blackberry jam won me over. This is a cake worth saving in the freezer for that one-year anniversary.
From the yellow sashes on the ring girls’ dresses to the sunlight that streamed over the ceremony at Greystone Mansion – blessing the special couple with its warm glow, to the spectacular banquet reception, Cathy’s wedding was a feast for the eyes, senses and mouth. She and her “stellar” groom are off to an auspicious start for their wedded life together. I wish them a lifetime of happiness together -- filled with buttery chunks of lobster.
New Capital Seafood
140 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776