404 S. Atlantic Blvd. Ste. A
Monterey Park, CA 91754
As I stated about two weeks ago, no matter what kind of gathering is amassed, Chinese people will always have some sort of large banquet with multiple courses stuffing someone to the gills. This was certainly true over the weekend when my family celebrated the life of my dear cousin, who departed our world way too early. While my cousin wasn’t the biggest fan of extended course Cantonese banquets, she nonetheless loved good food and we certainly had plenty of that at her celebration of life banquet.
We toasted her life at NBC Seafood. While this was my first time here, NBC Seafood has been well known, whether by fact or myth, as the first San Gabriel Valley restaurant serving Dim Sum. While other seafood restaurants and dim sum palaces have usurped NBC Seafood in the decades since (see: Sea Harbour), even renown critic Jonathan Gold notes that the restaurant serves high quality food in one of the most competitive Cantonese restaurant scenes outside of Hong Kong.
The food, as I hinted earlier, did not disappoint. We had an appetizer plate of suckling roast pork and jellyfish, which were absolutely delights to eat from the crunch of the pork skin to the springy texture of the jellyfish. Next came a winter melon soup with roast pork, roast duck, and shrimp, which reminded me of the winter melon soups my mom used to make for me when I was young. We then had walnut shrimp, which was good given that I generally don’t like the dish to begin with. A giant platter of fish filet with mixed vegetables came in with a nice, light flavor to go along with the rice. Another vegetable filled dish, what most Americans would term as “Buddha’s Delight” or some variation thereof, came to the table.
By this point, the lazy Susan at our table of 11 was almost packed, but there was more! Next came my second favorite dish of the night (after the appetizer), a large dish of salt baked chicken. The crispiness of the skin was absolutely delightful and the chicken maintained some flavor and moisture. It didn’t hurt that the rice chips of sorts that come with it reminded me of large family meals I would have with my cousin as a child. There was a sweet and sour pork dish that came next, which was decently made given the fact that I generally do not like such dishes that verged on becoming too Americanized. For dessert there were oranges, which tends to be a staple of Cantonese restaurants.
The service was pretty good as well, helping to refill teapots regularly, clearing tables at a good clip as more and more dishes came out, and refilling water as needed. Though, I do admit that I wasn’t paying as much attention to service (or with picture taking) given that I was with my cousins and we were bonding over food and plenty of shared memories. In the end, family is more important than photos or how you write the service portion of your blog post, so I apologize.
All in all, it was a fantastic family meal to celebrate my cousins life. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that I will get true closure from this loss when I go back to DC and have brunch with several of our mutual friends. Banquets are nice, but brunch became our family (and friend) bonding necessity.