Monterey Park is the seafood capitol of LA. There might more “marisco” shacks in LA, but Monterey Park is the king of live seafood, available to you in 6 difference sauces, cooked 3 different ways, many involving MSG.
Let me count the purveyors of ocean’s bounties: Ocean Seafood, NYC Seafood, Capital Seafood, Seafood Village, Monterey Palace, LYL Seafood, MPV Seafood, Lucky City (no seafood in name, what the heck!?), Empress Harbor, and maybe some others. That’s about 10 seafood restaurants for a city of only 7.7 square miles and 67,000 people. Insane.
For New Years Eve, we stalked the ghettoist seafood restaurant on Garvey Ave. LYL Seafood scared us away with a below “C” score card, then I remember how the ‘rents raved about Seafood Village’s fried crab. While there was nary a non-Asian under Seafood Village’s ceiling, fear not, all of the most popular dishes are printed as large color posters and pasted on the wall. While some of the seafood piles look doubtful, if you stick to recognizable dishes, you’ll be in great shape.
The most notable dish here is the “House of Hiding from The Wind” fried crab. Every table seems to have mounds of this lightly battered deep fried crab. The crabs are chopped into chunks after deep frying, then flash stir fried with copious garlic and green onions. It is, unlike lump crab cakes, quite difficult to eat, and requires mandibular activity beyond using the shell crackers, but the exercise results in small tasty morsels of fresh crab meat. Other popular items include various forms of seafood (clams, live fish, etc.) in hot pot, the tasty soy sauce duck, and house special chicken (akin to Hainan chicken). Remainder of the menu culls from Chiu Chow regional cuisine, and even includes a traditionally Vietnamese dish of “bo luc lac” (shaking beef), named “French style beef” here, as well as a offal-centric stewed duck tongue.
Service is curt but extremely efficient. Do not take offense to the waiters’ short attention span, do not ask for their favorite dishes, just know that the most popular dish happens to be only $5 per pound. Parking in the small lot, which plays host to both Seafood Village and the nearly Sam Woo BBQ, is more difficult than passing the first level of Frogger, so do not forget street parking during peak weekend hours.
There are now 2 other branches of Seafood Village, in Temple City, as well as Rowland Heights, but even residents of those cities still endure the snarky traffic to visit the original temple of seafood in Monterey Park.