Thursday, July 19, 2007

Macau Street - Artesia

Universally known fact No. 1: China is a big country.

Universally known fact No. 2: It's the most populous country on Earth.

Given these two facts: Is it any wonder that regional differences in its foods are vast?

In the north, for example, bread is more common than rice. Near the coast, seafood is eaten more than pork. So Chinese food isn't just Chinese food.

For every province (Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan, and Zhejiang), there's a unique cuisine. And that's just naming a few. I haven't even begun to talk about the spin that the Chinese diaspora puts on its mother cuisine in countries like Indonesia, Peru and the Philippines.

Funny then that when most of us think of Chinese food, it's usually Kung Pao Chicken or Beef and Broccoli.

But if you live in the Chinese enclave of San Gabriel Valley, you are well aware that there's more to Chinese food than what Panda Express cooks up.

Macau Street is a recent addition to SGV's already voluminous repertoire of Chinese eateries. Its owners hail from Macau, a tiny territory between mainland China and Hong Kong that, until recently, was a Portuguese colony.

A new Macau Street has now opened in Artesia, a city that is building up a burgeoning Chinese enclave of its own (and yet another reason why I think we should annex Artesia and its prettier sister Cerritos as part of OC).

Stylistically, the food is on par with Cantonese cuisine, but there are Portuguese influences, like egg custard tarts, which are divine here.

But the most coveted dish is their House Special Crab where a crustacean is dismembered, rolled in a light batter and then deep fried until all is crisp and crackly. Its final resting place; a plate, whereupon it is showered with golden fried granules of garlic, rough chopped scallions and toasted chili peppers.

The best part of the dish are the egg sacs and unmentionable innards which dangle from the underside of the carapace dome. These are the soft, glandular objects that look like they shouldn't be eaten, but pop one in your mouth and it melts like ice cream on a hot plate -- ice cream that is doubly dosed with cholesterol.

Cholesterol-schemesterol. You're already eating crab. And it's deep fried. No point in worrying now.

And the sea's other notorious carrier of cholesterol, the shrimp? We ordered two kinds; Salt and Pepper Shrimp and that perennial wedding banquet staple, Honey Glazed Walnut Shrimp. The former I ate whole (why bother peeling when the entire animal can be readily consumed, spiky appendages included), the latter I savored with rice to counter its mayonnaisey creaminess.

While you're throwing dietary caution to the wind, go for the Spare Ribs, which are really deep fried morsels of pork fat, and maybe a smidgen or two of meat clinging to bone.

In your mouth, crispness leads to chewiness, and chewiness leads to an oozing meltiness of what I like to call "pig butter". Once you finish gnawing off every edible bit, you spit out the bone. To keep the richness in check, it's lubed in a spicy sweet and sour sauce, which utilizes red food coloring (FD&C Red No. 40) to good effect.

To give your heart hope that it will survive through dessert, get the Stir Fried Chinese Broccoli. It's cooked just enough to get it good and green, but still as crunchy as when it was pulled from the ground. Each stalk is full of chlorophyll and a firm, snappy bite unkind to dentures.

And if you need fish as part of your meal, there's no better way to eat your daily recommended allowance than the Deep Fried Flounder. It's a species as flat as a pizza and just as wide. Encased in raucously crunchy, golden batter and presented head on and tail intact, it's served wading in a salty pool of sweetened soy sauce. Beneath that crackly coating: a mild, supple flesh.

Some bivalves would also be good at this point. Sauteed Clams gets a sluicing in a sauce chock-full of onions, unpeeled nobs of ginger and whole roasted cloves of garlic. It's a fitting end and heady accompaniment to these slippery, squishy buggers, which were alive mere seconds before they were tossed into the wok.

And for starch, a nice plate of noodles is better than rice. Not just any noodle though, the House Special Noodle -- a crispy nest of deep fried noodle doused with a gravy-rich stir fry of meats and veggies. Act quickly if you want to eat it at its full potential. Because as the gravy seeps through it, the crackle of noodle mesh subsides. But even if you dawdle, don't worry; the dish is still delectably edible even when soggy. It makes for great leftovers the morning after.

Other than the egg custard tarts (which you have to order), Macau Street will put out a complimentary finisher to your meal. Ours was almond pudding poured and set inside hollowed-out egg shells. Freebies like this are rare, only seen when a Chinese restaurant is new and the servers are actually happy to serve.

And, after you crack, peel and eat them, you'll discover two new revelations: not every Chinese restaurant has rude waiters, and not all Chinese meals have to end with a fortune cookie.
To read Wandering Chopsticks' post on her trip to the original Macau Street:
--->>> CLICK HERE <<<---

Macau Street
(562) 809-3106
11614 South St
Artesia, CA 90701

20 Comments:

At 1:52 AM, Anonymous Jeanine said...

I am always amazed how you find these restaurants that are mere blocks away from me that I've never gone to. This place sounds really good--was it expensive? Is it friendly to the Chinese-speaking-impaired?

 
At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Burnt Lumpia said...

I like the way you eat Elmo. No fear of "pork butter" and its repercussions.

 
At 8:50 AM, Blogger KirkK said...

Hey Elmo - Nice! Another restaurant for our list!

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said...

Hey Elmo,
Funny, my brother just mentioned this location opening. I was just at the one in Monterey Park a few weeks back and the house special crab is only $1.99 on weekdays during lunch! Funny, how for my review I chose to focus on goose intestines, chicken knees, and duck chins. Hehe. Or does Artesia have a different menu?

 
At 10:31 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Jeanine,

It actually wasn't that expensive. Especially during this golden period of it's grand opening, the crab was BOGO (Buy One, Get One Free) and the Shrimp was only $9.99. The other dishes hovered between $8 to $10. The staff doesn't speak English well, but the menus have pictures and very descriptive English.

Burnt Lumpia,

I felt the repercussions later that night though...no heart attack yet, but heart burn!

Kirk,

It's pretty good. I like it because it's still new and they seem to put a little bit of care in the dishes they prepare. Who knows what might happen in a year!

WC,

OH MAN! How did I miss your post! I went back and saw in your archives and had I read it before I went to this new one, I WOULD'VE ordered the chicken knees and the other game meats, especially the frog. To be honest, I was being treated, so I didn't go through the menu as well as I would normally. I've linked your review to mine!

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger 冬冬 said...

Elmo, I went there for lunch a while ago too, how come I didn't get the free desserts?! The dessert looks great though, really wanna try!!

Their food is good, but the food has nothign to do with Macau...?! Kinda weird they name a restaurant macau street, but with just regular chinese food hehe.

 
At 3:36 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Hey Elmo!
I always passed by the monterey park location and never thought go in...now I really regret it and I don't know if I'll ever be back in LA! :( The almond pudding at the end was a really nice touch, never seen it served that way before!

 
At 10:56 PM, Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said...

Elmo,
I just mentioned this to my brother and sister-in-law during dinner and she says this location is much saltier and not as tasty as the one in Monterey Park. If you want to come up and do a comparison at some point, I'll meet up with you and we can concentrate on the Macanese specialties. Although, I still like ordering the exotic stuff to freak people out. :)

 
At 12:15 AM, Blogger Chubbypanda said...

I love it when you go to town on a restaurant. I love it even more when I'm there too. Take me next time! =)

 
At 3:38 PM, Blogger Jeanine said...

Ok, here's another question: I never get what to do when I'm served crab (particularly thin-shelled but not soft-shelled crab)and shrimp which is all battered and sauced on the shell. Are you supposed to eat the shell? If not, why is all the seasoning on the shell? Are you just supposed to get it all over your hands while prying out the meat? Or is there some other, secret method? Dilemmas like this is why my parents' favorite restaurant is Burger King.

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

Wonderful post: looks delicious. I have some good news for your arteries: crab is not high in cholesterol as most people are led to believe. In fact, if that was dungeness crab you were eating, it only has 22 mg of cholesterol per serving: the same amount as a skinless piece of chicken breast. If you can ignore the deep fried coating: you're eating health food!

 
At 5:19 PM, Blogger jeannie said...

Hey isn't that the same plaza where the Malaysian restaurant is at? (I consider that part of South St Cerritos, hehe.) I never think of getting Chinese food when I'm in Artesia...with the exception of the Ranch 99 Plaza it's practically all Indian restaurants. It's good you don't have to drive all the way out to SGV for Chinese food!

 
At 7:16 AM, Blogger Beach said...

Elmo,
This is the same restaurant that used to be occupied by a Phillipino buffet. Our family always eat at the one next door Canaan ( used to call Shanghai). I got to try this one next week.

 
At 5:13 PM, Blogger Rasa Malaysia said...

Even though it's called Macau Street, but the dishes look like Cantonese cuisine...but anyway, the egg dessert looks very intriguing...I have never seen or had anything like that!

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

冬冬,

You're right, the food mostly is your standard Cantonese fare. Although they did have some special items, which to be honest, also sounded like they were things I've had before.

Kathy,

The pudding was a nice touch! It was good for two reasons. 1) We didn't expect to get it. 2) We've never seen it that way before either.

WC,

Yeah, the Macanese specialties sound intriguing, but the only one I remember seeing on the menu was some sort of curry (I'm not so much a fan of Chinese curry). But if we do a blogger meet up in SGV, it's gotta be for Peking Duck at Lu Din Gee...that's one thing I've been dying to try for at least a year!

CP,

How about a SGV field trip! Per my comment to WC above!

Jeanine,

Good question. Actually, although these crabs (Dungeness) were fried, their shells are still inedible. You kind of scrape what you can of the batter from the shell, and break into it with you teeth (if you aren't given pliers), and you suck on the joints to get the meat out. The meat in the limbs are actually drier than a steamed crab, so that decreases your meat-to-shell ratio quite a bit. I focused more on the meaty joint where the legs are connected to the body.

Kevin,

Doh! I don't know where I got my info then. I suppose I assumed since lobster and shrimp are high in cholesterol, so would crab. Thanks for setting me straight.

jeannie,

That's right! I saw the Malaysian restaurant when I parked. I made a mental note to go back and try it. It does feel like Cerritos, that area. But it's my de-facto place for Chinese food nowadays. Irvine has got a few good places, but nothing like competition to make the prices low and the service on their toes.

Beach,

WC says that it's not as good as the one in SGV, but let me know what you think. I'd be interested to find out what impressions you get. Plus they've got Grand Opening specials right now.

Rasa Malaysia,

Yup. That was my impression too. Cantonese more than Macanese. Although it may be just the way we ordered that night. That egg dessert was one of the highlights of the night!

 
At 10:51 AM, Blogger 冬冬 said...

I went again last weekend, just for the free dessert! :P The food overall was good, except for the abalone, but I guess we can't expect much, it was 12 bucks for 3 abalones! hehehe

 
At 6:49 PM, Blogger Deb said...

Great post Elmo! I love the food history you throw in. When are we going to eat?!?

 
At 12:14 AM, Blogger eastside eats said...

mm, that almond pudding looks really good except i'd be afraid of salmonella.

 
At 10:37 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

冬冬,

I'm glad you got the egg shell dessert! That was a real hoot. Wouldn't mind going back and just getting that!

Deb,

T'weren't much of a history lesson -- just tidbits of info I found while on wikipedia. Let's eat soon! I'm hungry again.

Eastside,

That's a good point. The pudding is cold set, but I was okay afterwards. Egg roulette anyone?!

 
At 3:01 PM, Blogger eatdrinknbmerry said...

I will be in Macau this week! Thanks for this posting... there's one in Monterey Park as well and i've been meaning to try it.

 

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