Friday, December 28, 2018

Boston Lobster (San Gabriel, CA)

Boston Lobster Tôm Hùm Restaurant
727 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Fri 12/28/2018, 07:50p-09:30p

Boston Lobster Exterior

I'd been wanting to try Boston Lobster (Yue Wei Xian in Chinese) for a while now, and was finally able to check it out recently for an end-of-year dinner. The place opened in June 2014, and according to local lore, was started by a former chef from the nearby Newport Seafood, though I can't really find any "official" sources to corroborate this. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control lists the owners as Li-Shou Ma and Zhen-Bao Xiang, for what it's worth. In any case, the restaurant is essentially a clone of Newport, and serves a very similar Chinese-Vietnamese menu, which of course includes the namesake lobster.

Boston Lobster Interior
Boston Lobster takes over the address that was previously home to J.Z. Restaurant, Oriental Pearl, and Clark Ho's G.C. River. The decor is about what you'd expect.

Boston Lobster Menu: Chef Recommended Boston Lobster Menu: Soup Boston Lobster Menu: Lobster Boston Lobster Menu: Crab Boston Lobster Menu: Sea Cucumber, Clams/Oyster Boston Lobster Menu: Sizzling Plate Boston Lobster Menu: Shrimp Boston Lobster Menu: Geoduck Clam/Squid Boston Lobster Menu: Fish
Boston Lobster Menu: Meat Boston Lobster Menu: Poultry Boston Lobster Menu: Vegetable Boston Lobster Menu: (Rice) Noodle Boston Lobster Menu: Rice Boston Lobster Menu: Set Meals Boston Lobster Menu: Set Meals Boston Lobster Menu: Set Meals Boston Lobster Menu: Set Meals Boston Lobster Drink List
The menu's pretty large, and lists pretty much all the Chinese-Vietnamese favorites you'd find at Newport. Drink-wise, there's a small selection of wines, beers, and soft drinks. Corkage, meanwhile, is supposed to be $15 a bottle, though we ended up getting charged $20 in total, which wasn't bad at all. Click for larger versions.

Clam with Black Bean Sauce
Clam with Black Bean Sauce [$12.98]
Clams arrived springy and soft, with an apparent brine that linked up well with the potent douchi sauce. Onions and bell peppers provided further contrast, though I wanted a crisper texture on the veggies.

2009 Dom Perignon Champagne
We began with a bottle of 2009 Dom Perignon Champagne, which was fitting for the festive mood. Its bouquet was actually fairly understated and conveyed a fine toasty quality with yellow pome fruit and citrus. The palate was bright and acidic, but also a bit restrained, giving up lime, apple, stone, and a subtle nuttiness along with a trace of heat. The wine was drinking very young this evening, and could definitely benefit from at least several more years of aging.

Ma Po Tofu
Ma Po Tofu [$10.98]
The mapo doufu was decent. I appreciated the silky texture of the tofu here, though I felt like there could've been more depth of spice to the dish, as well as more mala.

French Style Beef Cube
French Style Beef Cube [$13.98]
The restaurant's rendition of bo luc lac was a crowd pleaser thanks to its tender, perfectly seasoned cuts of beef, which were well matched with the onions in the dish. You can't go wrong with this.

Yang Chow Fried Rice
Yang Chow Fried Rice [$8.98]
The Yangzhou fried rice hit the mark. What surprised me most was how well the shrimp were cooked, and I was a fan of the texture on the rice, too. The char siu pork imparted a wonderful sweet-savoriness to things, making for a well balanced dish overall.

2015 Királyudvar Furmint Tokaji Sec
Next to drink came the 2015 Királyudvar Furmint Tokaji Sec. This one smelled of honey and sugary tropical fruit, but also displayed a somewhat funky character that was key for balance. Taste-wise, I got acidity and astringency mixed with plenty of vibrant yellow fruit and more honey, alongside a smidge of mustiness. A fun wine for sure.

Boston House Special Lobster + Add Garlic Noodle (x2)
Boston House Special Lobster + Add Garlic Noodle (x2) [$75.96 + $6.00x2]
And here we see the signature Chiuchow-style Atlantic lobster, which was a touch tougher than I'd prefer. It was on point taste-wise though, with its buttery, black pepper-infused flavors joined by the potency of green onion and jalapeño in classic, gratifying fashion. The noodles were a welcomed addition as well, providing a savory, cozy quality to the course.

Sea Cucumber with Black Mushroom
Sea Cucumber with Black Mushroom [$20.98]
Haishen arrived slick and slippery. It didn't taste like much on its own, but was complemented by the umami notes from the mushrooms and accompanying sauce. I also enjoyed the contrast provided by the lettuce and bamboo.

Kung Pao Squid
Kung Pao Squid [$11.98]
Squid was generally quite tender, though unfortunately certain parts did veer rubbery. There was a very palpable salinity in the dish that stood up to the usual Kung Pao ingredients (especially the leeks and peanuts), though overall I think the flavors could've been a tad more aggressive.

2017 Modern Times Palace of Cracked Heads
We moved on to some beer at this point, starting with the 2017 Modern Times Palace of Cracked Heads, a nectarine-boosted red wine barrel-aged oud bruin with Lacto, Pedio, and Brett. It smelled quite nice, with lots of funky, sour notes intermixed with heady stone fruit. In terms of taste, I got super rich, spicy nectarine flavors along with a persistent tartness and earthy, yeasty quality in the background.

Sautéed Pea Sprout
Sautéed Pea Sprout [$15.98]
The dou miao were beautifully textured, though far too bland, and definitely needed more garlic and salt.

Fried Pork Chop with Salt & Pepper
Fried Pork Chop with Salt & Pepper [$11.98]
Crunchy jiaoyan pork chops had just the right amount of S&P seasoning, and worked great with the green onion and garlic, too.

Shrimp with Walnut
Shrimp with Walnut [$15.98]
The hetao xia was another winner. The shrimp had a lovely texture: just crisp enough on the outside, yet soft and supple on the inside. There was a noticeable sweetness to the dish, but it was never domineering, and still let the inherent nature of the shrimp shine.

2016 Beachwood Blendery Propagation Series: No. Omega
Our final beverage was the 2016 Beachwood Blendery Propagation Series: No. Omega, a tart farmhouse ale aged in oak barrels with Brett, Lacto, and Pedio. Designed to be a sort of Brett saison and lambic hybrid, the beer smelled great, with boatloads of juicy orange moderated by a potent earthiness. On the palate, I found it super funky, and there was this rubbery, astringent, barnyard-y quality to it that was superbly moderated by more of that succulent citrus fruit. This was arguably the most complex, interesting beer of the entire Propagation series.

House Special Crispy Fried Sole Fish
House Special Crispy Fried Sole Fish [$21.98]
We'd initially wanted the "House Special Black Cod Whole Fish," but the restaurant ran out of cod, so we ended up having the same sauce with the "Crispy Fried Sole Fish." In any case, I found the fish tender and juicy, delicate in consistency and well matched to the crunchiness of its skin. The included sauce, meanwhile, went in a sweet and funky direction, with a pleasant heat and distinct notes of basil.

Orange Slices
For dessert we had oranges.

It's been a long time since I've dined at Newport, but from what I can recall, I think I'd give it a slight edge food-wise. That being said, we were still generally happy with our meal tonight, despite a couple nits and the long wait to get in. Actually, this has gotten me somewhat curious about 626 Lobster and New Century Lobster, two more Newport clones that have opened up nearby--my guess is that they're all pretty similar.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That $12 for the extra extra noodles is the best part of the meal...

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Kelvin said...

I can confirm the rumors. I remember the servers working here used to work at Newport's old location on the corner of Las Tunas and Mission Drive. This was before they relocated to their current location, which is the old Marie Calendars.
Personally, I recommend the clams with basil instead of the clams with black bean sauce.

Sunday, February 03, 2019 11:39:00 PM  

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