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New Concept - Chinese Rest. Monterey Park, CA


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Since moving to CA my wife and I have decided to make it our custom to spend Christmas dining on Chinese "splurge" ingredients and catching up on lost years of good Chinese food. Last year's meal was at Koi Palace and this year we decided to try out New Concept in Monterey Park here in SoCal.

The restaurant was smaller than I expected being used to the larger banquet style restaurants but tastefully decorated in a manner typical of higher end Chinese restaurants. The room was about 1/2 full when we arrived at 7pm, but I was a little concerned when I saw quite a few tables of non-Asian clientele. We consoled ourselves by the fact that it was Christmas after all and we should not have been surprised.

We started off with a 1/2 platter of steamed free range chicken served with the typical ginger and oil dipping sauce. It was served warm which I prefer over many restaurants that serve it slightly chilled and was good but not spectacular. This was followed by frogs legs fried with tea leaves, the leaves left a subtle tea aroma on the lightly battered legs but I wished it was a little more pronounced.

Next up was the first of two splurge items for the night, Japanese abalone braised in oyster sauce served with a section of steamed Chinese mustard. The abalone was good sized specimen about 5" in length and quite plump. The meat was braised to a level firmer that I normally prefer but had a good flavor overall. The oyster sauce was not as delicate as the one I had at Koi Palace a year ago and the Chinese mustard was overcooked. Decent abalone but overall execution was not well finished.

The next and last splurge item was Birds' Nest steamed in papaya. Surprisingly we were not given any soup spoons to use and had to ask on two separate occasions before finally receiving them. We shocked when a dazed waitress came by with the spoons and instead of placing them on the table she for whatever reason left them on top of a plate of vegetables covered in sauce and rushed off??!?!? At this point after a couple of other previous service missteps we just ended up wiping the sauce off the spoons ourselves. I'll admit it's been quite a few number of years since I last had bird's nest but again I thought the texture was firmer than I was accustomed too but overall the soup was not overly sweet, the flavor of the papaya was very subtle and did not dominate the soup and overall was quite good.

Total bill for 2 food and tea came up to $155 + tip. The service was definitely the low point of the evening, the wait staff was not attentive and the incident with soup spoons was just outright incompetence on the part of the waitress. So far my high end Chinese dining experiences in LA have fallen short of my experiences in SF. However this has only been the 2nd seafood style / higher end Chinese restaurant here in LA and there's still a long list of places to try, so I'm confident my future experiences will be more positive.

SG’s Chinese Food Ranking (places I’ve tried over a span of a year)

SF: Koi Palace, Zen Peninsula, HK Flower Lounge (Milbrae), Asian Pearl (Richmond), Saigon (Richmond), HK East Ocean (Emeryville)

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SG’s Chinese Food Ranking (places I’ve tried over a span of a year)

SF: Koi Palace, Zen Peninsula, HK Flower Lounge (Milbrae), Asian Pearl (Richmond), Saigon (Richmond), HK East Ocean (Emeryville)

SG:

fyi Saigon (Richmond) is closed. it doesn't look like they are coming back. shame. i do like their dim sum. looks like Asian Pearl is taking over, 500 yards away. HK East Ocean (Emeryville) degraded. my last visit was 2 months ago. dim sum down a notch from what it used to be. unlikely that i would go back for a while.

i had written off HK Flower Lounge (Milbrae) about 2 years ago - my last visit. dim sum tasted so... so-so. no waiting Saturday at 12:00 pm. imagine that.

"high end" Chinese restaurant... i am not sure what that is, sad to say. the best service i had received in Chinese restaurants in SoCal: Panda Inn. they have 5 locations. we had tried the ones in San Diego (Horton Plaza), Pasadena and La Palma. services are all good (better than most other Chinese restaurants). food is not bad. not the best for my taste but not bad overall. note that they target for non-asian patronage. that's where i took my former coworkers to and they all loved it.

and i presume the abalone dish is the most pricy dish in your dinner at new concept?

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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We also had dinner at New Concept over the holidays but did not splurge on any high ticket items. It was a weeknight and the restaurant was not particularly busy. It took a very long time to get our food and it seemed like they lost our order, but after bugging the waitress once the food came out promptly.

We started off with a soup with some type of salted fish. I don't remember exactly what it was on the menu but it wasn't cheap--we had to get a double order to feed our group so the total for this course was over $40.

gallery_26439_3934_519392.jpg

Next came scallops in a butter and herb sauce

gallery_26439_3934_439181.jpg

Beef with Sugar Snap Peas in a spicy sauce, which appeared to be made with tenderloin and not tenderized with baking soda like how most restaurants do it.

gallery_26439_3934_136196.jpg

Veggie Medley. Nothing special but tasted ok

gallery_26439_3934_238665.jpg

An interesting tofu dish made with thinly sliced tofu formed into a pretty pattern with a seafood filling in the center. I'm still trying to figure out how they cooked the tofu and plated it without breaking the tofu into pieces.

gallery_26439_3934_795543.jpg

Shrimp in Egg Cream. This was deep fried and coated with a sauce made from, I believe, salted duck egg yolks.

gallery_26439_3934_662134.jpg

Sweet dessert soup with black eyed peas

gallery_26439_3934_94382.jpg

Total bill was just over $100. The food was interesting and tasted good, but the soup was way overpriced for what you get.

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SG’s Chinese Food Ranking (places I’ve tried over a span of a year)

SF: Koi Palace, Zen Peninsula, HK Flower Lounge (Milbrae), Asian Pearl (Richmond), Saigon (Richmond), HK East Ocean (Emeryville)

SG:

fyi Saigon (Richmond) is closed. it doesn't look like they are coming back. shame. i do like their dim sum. looks like Asian Pearl is taking over, 500 yards away. HK East Ocean (Emeryville) degraded. my last visit was 2 months ago. dim sum down a notch from what it used to be. unlikely that i would go back for a while.

i had written off HK Flower Lounge (Milbrae) about 2 years ago - my last visit. dim sum tasted so... so-so. no waiting Saturday at 12:00 pm. imagine that.

"high end" Chinese restaurant... i am not sure what that is, sad to say. the best service i had received in Chinese restaurants in SoCal: Panda Inn. they have 5 locations. we had tried the ones in San Diego (Horton Plaza), Pasadena and La Palma. services are all good (better than most other Chinese restaurants). food is not bad. not the best for my taste but not bad overall. note that they target for non-asian patronage. that's where i took my former coworkers to and they all loved it.

and i presume the abalone dish is the most pricy dish in your dinner at new concept?

High end as in casual locations that don't serve abalone, shark's fin, birds' nest etc. or street fare. I knew I shouldn't have used that term in the US, not very applicable here.

I thought Saigon was rebuilding the place, guess they decided to invest in their new place down in the South Bay instead.

Yes, abalone was the most expensive single item @ $60.

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An interesting tofu dish made with thinly sliced tofu formed into a pretty pattern with a seafood filling in the center. I'm still trying to figure out how they cooked the tofu and plated it without breaking the tofu into pieces.

gallery_26439_3934_795543.jpg

Here is how I would do it (I think it would work):

Use cheese (or egg) wire slicer to cut the tofu but keep them together as a block. Place 2 or more blocks of tofu on the plate, then fan them off like a deck of thick cards.

But how they heat it would be interesting. They can heat the tofu first (the block) and then plate it, but hot tofu may be hard to deal with.

Thanks for the additional pictures, sheetz!

Interesting! Looks like the dishes offered at New Concept match their restaurant name. The platings are very nicely done.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I thought Saigon was rebuilding the place, guess they decided to invest in their new place down in the South Bay instead.

If that is their intent, they sure don't care to let anybody know. There was no notice of any explanations posted at the door. The parking lot was chained up. The second time I passed by was about 4 months after I had learned that it's closed. And apparently nothing had changed.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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  • 2 months later...

In case anybody has been searching for it, its been sold, remodeled, and reopened under a new name, Elite Restaurant. I have no idea how the new menu compares to the original one but its probably not going to be the same since the head chef had already left as well as signifigant turnover among the staff.

I'm curious about why it was sold. Was business bad? When I went there awhile back, I had to wait for about twenty minutes but that may have been a reflection of how small the place was. Personally, I thought it was interesting albeit expensive. I know it got a lot of positive press with non-chinese publications, but I wonder if this nouvelle style dim sum connected with chinese eaters who might have thought it was too expensive.

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