Friday, November 30, 2012

Tan Cang Newport Seafood Restaurant - Rowland Heights

I like turkey, but I don't really need to have it for Thanksgiving. You see, turkey isn't a thing we eat at my parents' house.

Why? As far as I know, turkeys do not exist in Indonesia. But vultures do. And unfortunately, to most Indonesians, America's favorite indigenous poultry--with their grotesque-looking head and neck--look like vultures, scavengers you see pecking on rotting flesh on the side of the road. So the thought of eating a Butterball for dinner, Thanksgiving or otherwise, at an old-school Indonesian household is as common as eating frogs or crickets in an American one.

This is why Thanksgiving with our family--assuming we get a chance to get together for what amounts to an eating holiday--is just an excuse to consume large quantities of, well, whatever we feel like...just not turkey.

This year, it was Tan Cang in Rowland Heights, the Viet/Chinese restaurant that, contrary to the name, isn't affliated to the one in Santa Ana, which you may be already familiar for its lobster. We feasted like it was any other day. There was, of course, French-style beef steak, cubes of just-seared beef, glistening in a sweet marinade that now coated it like glaze after being tossed around in a blazing wok with onions. The Viets call it bo luc lac, and we ate it the recommended way--each morsel dabbed into a slurry of salt, pepper and lime juice.

Fried calamari crunched with a light shimmer of batter; the kung pao chicken was a little too dry for my taste; but the Chinese broccoli was simply steamed, the stalks turned deep green and crisp-tender before being stir-fried with a flecks of dried-salted fish.

Then the House Special crab came, a whole Dungeness hacked up into pieces, the shells dipped in batter, each limb deep fried. It all goes into another wok, drizzled and tossed with a spicy seasoning consisting of onions, peppers, and magic that seeped into the crispy floury bits stuck onto the carapace as well as the sweet meat underneath. We cracked through its armor (easy-peasy since the shell was now weakened by the hot oil), fingered the insides to extract every speck of of its snowy flesh. We chased it with bowls upon bowls of rice, not mashed potatoes or stuffing; and for dessert we sucked up durian milkshakes instead of pumpkin pie.

Turkey? Meh.

Tan Cang
18441 Colima Rd
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
(626) 839-1239

The Point - Dana Point


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