There's nothing new about Newport Seafood Restaurant in San Gabriel. Everybody's been there and everybody goes back, so the wait for tables is a swirling mob scene. But you don't mind, because you know you're about to eat some of the most interesting Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley.
It's a given that you'll order lobster (at top). Laden with spicy sauce and green onions, it's so delicious you don't mind the splurge. Or you could have the lobster plain, or with black beans or salt and pepper.
Probably everyone will order fish with basil too, and bo luc lac (above), glossy wok-seared Vietnamese beef. That's what sets Newport apart from other Chinese restaurants, its Southeast Asian inflection and a menu in English and Vietnamese.
But the restaurant does well with such popular Cantonese dishes as shrimp with sweet glazed walnuts. And vegetables such as brilliant green peasprouts.
The menu is long but there are still more dishes on hand. The other night there were clams with tamarind (above)--spicy, like most of the dishes I had that night, including squid with Asian basil, bean sprouts and jalapeños (below).
Waiting for a table, my friends shared a bottle of 2008 Robert Mondavi Napa Chardonnay. But the surprise was a bottle of Caymus Vineyards 2008 Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, which costs $100 and up, depending upon where you buy it, plus more on a wine list.
Far from out of its element, that wine mastered the spicy dishes like a warlord subduing a fractious horde.
Newport Seafood Chinese Restaurant, 518 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel, CA 91776. Tel: (626) 289-5998.