A business meeting brought me to Rowland Heights, but it was dim sum that kept me in the San Gabriel Valley, a wide swath of land that’s justly renowned for Chinese food. Drink Eat Travel co-founder Stan Lee, who grew up nearby, knew about Seafood Village. The restaurant also has a location in Monterey Park, probably serves the best barbecued meats of any dim sum house in L.A. County, and their other offerings were also above average.
When questions like the owner’s name and where they’re from came up, Stan and his friend Jason made it clear those were the wrong questions. They proceeded to enlighten me about the inner workings of SGV dim sum houses. The owners change, but the quality can never dip because competition is so fierce and customers shift allegiances after a single bad meal. Based on our meal, it was clear that Seafood Village was still paying careful attention to food that left the kitchen.
The decor in the sprawling dining hall inspired plenty of other questions, including, What happens when a griffin squares off against a dragon? We didn’t find out the answer, since this mythical battle wasn’t settled by the time we paid the bill.
Seafood Village has a 104-item checklist menu, plus House Special Crab and Duck with Soy Sauce & Tofu. The three of us split about a dozen dishes, which was more than we needed, not that any food went to waste. By ordering from a checklist, all of our food stayed nice and fresh, which isn’t always the case from carts.
Despite the restaurant’s oceanic name, the meats were definitely the heavy hitters on the Seafood Village menu, particularly B.B.Q. Pork ($3.68) with caramelized slabs of infused pork set upon what were basically baked soy beans.
Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce ($1.98) was the only dish that went untouched by my chopsticks. The limp texture of the skin has always been a turnoff, despite repeated efforts, and the yield isn’t worth all the trouble.
Poached Water Spinach with Preserved Beancurd Sauce ($3.68) was our token green dish and was indeed waterlogged, though the pungent sauce with the consistency of Russian dressing helped to balance out the blandness.
Everything was pretty to very good at Seafood Village, which going by Stan and Jason’s dim sum rules, means that the restaurant is liable to remain full. Now, whether the owner remains or sells off their culinary asset is another matter.