Sunday, April 4, 2010

Capital Seafood- Arcadia: Dim Sum Visit #1

Capital Seafood Arcadia Exterior

Now Open Sign Capital Seafood

After a pretty good first impression on Capital Seafood, who touts itself as "Tradition Redefined", we decided to visit it full out during the weekend after a nice morning walk and picture taking at the Arboretum. Besides, everyone seems to be visiting the Capital Seafood-Arcadia: First Impressions page A LOT. It's already first on the list for Google's search engine, but that post didn't even have pictures of the food! This post will, as well as lots of plenty non-food photos. Should I put a smiley face or a frown face for that? It is up to you. :)

Grand Opening Plant
(Your eyes are not tricking you: most of the people have been washed out with black paint)

After parking, the first thing we were greeted by was a tree. If you look carefully, it's the same as the Hyatt plant I showed you in the last post. This tree is supposed to symbolize good things, and if you can read the Chinese characters it is wishing for Capital Seafood to prosper. This is usually what you see when a new Chinese restaurant opens. If you even want to look back at my old posts, Green Island had them too when they opened about a year ago.

Grand Opening Flower

Inside, we were greeted yet by another plant, this time a large arrangement of flowers. After asking for a seat at the podium, we were in the restaurant!

Entryway Capital Seafood

Inside, it felt a bit unusual at first. It was not too bright, although as you can see there were tons of windows.


See? This was approximately how bright it was inside. Not very bright for a Chinese restaurant, mind you. But Capital in Irvine and Monterey Park aren't, so I guess this continues the trend. If you have been to the Irvine location, you'll notice both interiors are similar.

There was also actually a smaller side if you turned right after entering (this portion is the left). The small side housed several booth tables and private chairs. Somehow, that side just did not feel like a Chinese restaurant, especially the booths. It just seemed so out of place!


If you noticed, to the left in the pictures was yet another flower display, also doing about the same function as the other plants. It also provided a nice pop of color to a mostly white/beige restaurant.

Flower Decoration 1 Capital Seafood

Flower Decoration 2 Capital Seafood

It was a good thing Capital had already thought about the color issue by creating a permanent flower display on one side of the restaurant. This provided a big pop of color!


The larger tables also brought in color too with their blue lazy susans. These tables had no customers when we arrived, but when we were finished, they were filled with people and not only that, people were waiting outside for a seat!

And on another note, entering the restaurant, it felt like I had been transported to some other city. I felt like I was in Irvine or some other large city :).

Table Setting Captial Seafood

Sitting down, we had a nice cup of tea before deciding what to order. Our choice of tea was of a high quality tea and was very fragrant and refreshing.

Capital Seafood Chopstick

We also noticed that the fact that their chopstick covers were plastic and not paper. This color actually was throughout the Capital Seafood branding- even the business cards had the red bow which you see in the photo.

Dim Sum Menu
(go to Flickr for the full size)

Lunch Menu
(go to Flickr for the full size)

Glancing at the menu for what to eat was easy. For the dim sum portion, the items were labeled with pictures and had easy to understand English and Chinese characters. On the other side, there was a full lunch menu with various entrees (that came with a quite large bowl of rice), porridge, noodle soups, clay pots, and other items. We ordered plenty from both sides of the menu. If you are lazy, the items are in tiered pricing of A, B, and C: respectively 1.88 USD, 2.88 USD, and 3.88 USD. The lunch menu side has items that cost 5.95 USD and above.

Hot and Sour Soup

But, first to come to us were complimentary bowls of hot and sour soup which were piping hot, spicy, and slightly sour. What made it different however were the amount of ingredients and the quality of the ingredients. There were more pieces of bamboo, wood ear, et cetera and they were all of high quality, cut into neat pieces. Very good! Dare I say, even better than Chang's Garden, one of the few Shanghai style restaurants in Arcadia.

Shiu Mai

After enjoying the soup, a steamer of Shrimp and Pork Shiu Mai (2.88USD) arrived at the table. Large and topped with semi cooked masago which were thus crunchy and flavorful, these were very delicious. The pork was chopped into pieces, and there were large pieces of shrimp as well. On top was a light layer of fish paste. The only negative was that the shiu mai wrappers were colored with yellow food coloring.

Steamed Pork Spareribs with Pumpkin

The Spareribs with Pumpkin (1.88 USD) on the other hand, were just OK. They were quite oily, and we wished for more pieces of pumpkin! Three tiny pieces of pumpkin was not enough for us. At least those pieces were very tender and creamy. The spareribs were usual, but not tampered with baking soda (cornstarch instead).

Beef Stew Noodle Soup

Two of our items from the lunch menu side arrived next. Above is the Beef Stew Noodle Soup (6.95 USD), which was served in a very large and showy bowl. Nicely presented, its taste fell a bit short. The noodles could have been just a bit more al dente for me, but the beef stew was nicely flavored with spices and was ultra tender. Plenty of tendon pieces too, which I liked. The beef soup was moderately beefy and not too oily.

Preserved Duck Egg and Pork Porridge

The Preserved Egg and Shredded Pork Porridge (6.95 USD) was also excellent. This, unlike your usual porridge, was served in a clay pot, and was topped with garlic bits. Somehow, this was exceedingly addicting. A flavor was added which made it quite different compared to usual porridge. I'm guessing MSG but the preserved eggs were cut into large pieces and the shredded pork actually had flavor still. All very good. The rice was cooked to the point that it would break, but it was not pulverized.

Stir Fried Ong Choy

Ong Choy with Garlic Sauce (5.95 USD) came with the large bowl of rice, but was a bit small in terms of portion. This was filled with garlic flavor and fragrance and the ong choy was extra crisp. With ultra crispy veggies, there was the usual oil puddle as well.

Seafood Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf

Shrimp and Scallop in Sticky Rice (3.88 USD) was weirdly named, for the fact that the point of the dish was definitely not the shrimp (scallop was there though). There was barely any shrimp, and mainly the meat was chicken with several pieces of baby scallops. It was however a pretty good deal- about a dollar more expensive if you compared it to Full House (but at Capital there are the scallops).

Interior of Seafood Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf

Breaking and opening up the lotus leaf package, there were pieces of mushrooms, sausage, chicken, and scallop, all of which were nicely flavored and went well (obviously) with the sticky rice. The sticky rice was very good, with each piece of rice distinctive and not a clumpy mess. Addition of scallop was a bit unusual but due to the concentrated flavor of the scallop it went quite well actually. It was still just as good the next day for a chilled lunch.

Chiu Zhow Fun Goh

Two steamers of dumplings arrived next, first being the Teo Chew Fun Gor (or what I would call Chiu Zhou Fun Goh) (1.88 USD). Since Capital Seafood is a Chiu Zhou style chain I expected it to be quite good.

Chiu Zhow Fun Goh Filling

And it was! The inside filling was very moist, with various veggies, meat, and peanuts, which was a contrast to the usual dry filling at other places. I usually dislike this dumpling due to the fact the inside filling is just so dry, but this was excellent. Good chewy wrappers too!

Spinach Dumplings

Spinach Dumpling
(focused on pleats too much!)

Our steamer of the Spinach Mix Vegetable Dumplings (1.88 USD) was just as good as what I sampled a few days before, with the addition of being freshly steamed and served. Like the Chiu Zhou Fun Goh dumplings, this also had a clear chewy skin, but this time with pigments of green. I think it is green food coloring. It just may be spinach juice. Who knows?

Interior of Spinach Dumpling
(fuzzy, again. Shaky hands, wrongly set settings!)

Inside was a filling of spinach, carrots, and mushrooms, which were lightly seasoned with salt. The carrots brought in an interesting sweetness that was quite satisfying.

Yang Zhow Tofu with Mushrooms

The Japanese Tofu with Mushrooms or Yang Zhou Tofu with Mushrooms (1.88USD) was surprisingly not fried, unlike the picture on the menu. Unfortunately, this was the disappointing item of the day, as Full House's version is much better! Although the tofu was the egg tofu and was very soft, and the mushrooms were the usual, the (abalone) sauce was bland. Watery too. There was a layer of water on top of the not very flavorful sauce. Full House wins due to the sauce. :) It makes the difference for such a simple item.


The Twin Mushroom Rice Noodle/Cheong Fun (3.88 USD) was plated exceedingly ugly but luckily tasted pretty good. Like most high end dim sum restaurants, the soy sauce was served on the side. The filling was a mix of mushrooms, wood ear, carrots, and baby corn which ended up having a mix of sweet and savory flavors due to the soy sauce and the carrots' natural sweetness. Although the rice noodles were ugly, they were nicely chewy and were thin, with a pull as well. I'd pay the cost, but if the rice noodles come out looking like what you see in the photo again, I'm not giving them my money!

Shrimp Wonton in Soup

Shrimp Dumpling in Superior Stock (2.88 USD) was again a bit of a misnomer. These were dumplings with large pieces of shrimp and shrimp paste (good for the shrimp lover), but the stock was very lightly flavored and there was just a spoonful of the soup. "In Superior Stock"= Floating on a bit of stock. Bonus to the copy of the Villeroy and Boch New Wave dinnerware.

Lotus Buns

To end the meal, we enjoyed some Steamed Lotus Buns (1.88USD), which were made of a whole wheat and white flour combination and thick but not ultra rich lotus seed paste.

Interior of Lotus Buns

The bread was ultra fluffy and soft, with the whole wheat bringing a textural contrast and fragrance to the bread. Inside, the lotus paste was not as rich as a mooncake but was sweet and thick. Yum!

Total cost was more compared to our usual dim sum outings (about 33 percent more?) but we ordered a bit too much- especially with the Ong Choy and the Beef Stew Noodle Soup. We would be around about 15 percent more if we took of those items.

Overall, it is definitely known Capital will be staying here for a long time. It is already a crowd favorite with long lines if you arrive at noon (now 11:30AM UPDATE 10 April 2010), and the food is of a very good quality. Arcadia does not have any real high end Chinese restaurants with the exception of Din Tai Fung, and so Capital has found its own niche spot in the Arcadia dining scene that will most definitely earn customers.

What do they still need to work on? Better service, especially when asking for a check, making sure all dishes are clean, and use a tad less seasoning. But pretty much every Chinese restaurant needs to work on these items so it's even ground. :)

Capital Seafood Restaurant
333 E. Huntington Dr.
Arcadia, CA 91006
Tel: (626) 574-8889

Capital Seafood on Urbanspoon

Capital Seafood Restaurant in Los Angeles


Dave said...

Ding Tai Fung is high end? I always thought of it more as a fast food type of thing.

Capital in Monterey Park has always been one of my favorites and with a new branch opening in Arcadia I'm definitely going to visit some time soon.

Fine review I must add.

Protocol Snow said...

Do you know when this restaurant opened? Seems like really recently. I'll have to check it out next time I'm in town!

Cookie Chomper said...

finally arcadia has and edible dim sum place. the last thing i remember is Hop Lee on baldwin and that was a disaster. nice pics! *drool*

Gastronomer said...

Is this place related to New Capital Seafood in San Gabriel?

EatTravelEat said...

Thanks! I consider Din Tai Fung to be high end as the prices are high (compared to the rest of Arcadia's Chinese restaurants) and the interior is nicer IMHO. Capital in Monterey Park is quite different compared to Arcadia- service, ambiance, and everything is just a bit different.

Protocol Snow,
March 22! The Irvine ad said February, but that is a lie. It's where Tony Romas/ Fusions used to be, across from Souplantation.

Cookie Chomper,
Hahaha. Hop Li's okay with me, and Full House is better (it all depends on what you order, actually), but Capital is a step up from both of the places. I'll have to try out their dinner menu someday.

It's actually related to the Capital Seafood in Irvine and the one in Monterey Park. New Capital is related to Blue Ocean in Alhambra (if you know that place).

SinoSoul said...

o c'mon!!! Capital Seafood was so perfectly composed within its own niche, and one of my faves (cheap, full of Canto OG's), now upscale? ala Elite? Lunasia? I'm saddened.

Then again, Arcadia is wayyy richer than Monterey Park.

OTOH, New Cap/Blue Ocean/Travel agency is just pure garbage.

EatTravelEat said...

Yep! It's quite different from the Monterey Park location. All the employees are either well dressed men or young girls. Irvine's the same.

Yeah, New Capital/Blue Ocean isn't too good. I've put the New Capital post of mines for almost 3/4's of a year now as I am not interested to write about it! Blue Ocean was good, but even better before. Free iced Chrysanthemum tea rocks!

tigerfish said...

Where's the pumpkin in the pork ribs? cannot see...

Unknown said...

OMG, isn't this little hong kong? It looks just like it...hmm except the fact that the menu is in English...:D

Wandering Chopsticks said...

They're really trying to build up an empire huh? Interior looks swanky! Trying to compete with Lunasia/Elite/Sea Harbour. Although, if you had to drink 3 cups of water afterward, I don't think I can take that much MSG.

Hehe. My verification word is "dines."

EatTravelEat said...

Exactly! It's completely hidden in the pork ribs...

Mochachocolata Rita,
There's chinese character's on the menu too. Don't get why they made the English text larger though as Arcadia does have a large Chinese population.

Their poster in Irvine reads "Every empire needs an encore." :)