I love many things about Los Angeles, but I can’t say I’m a big fan of the early-bird schedule. Once 7:30 rolls around, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t eaten dinner yet (or at least already made plans to). Imagine my unhappiness then Friday night when dinner plans had fallen through, leaving me high and dry at the witching hour of 9 PM. In New York, this would barely be a problem. It’s practically the norm to eat after ten. In LA though, I was S.O.L., which meant I’d have to scavenge my fridge for nourishment. It was looking like Friday night was gonna be spent alone with a slice of leftover quiche and perhaps some tears. However, I was saved in the eleventh hour (almost quite literally) by my friend Tony C (of Sinosoul), who said he’d be willing to dine with me if I gave him an hour or so to drive back from the depths of Fullerton, CA. Oh glorious developments. Not only did I have someone to have dinner with, but I knew I’d be in store for some fun Asian grub as well. And that’s kind of my favorite grub.
Sure enough, Tony proposed we go to a place called Seafood Village, which was conveniently open until 1 AM (also a rarity in Los Angeles restaurants: late night hours). Even though I was already starving at 9 PM and even though the restaurant was way the eff out there in Monterey Park, the promise of trying a new restaurant was too entrancing for me. I happily agreed to the location, and when Tony finally gave me the call at midnight that he was back from Fullerton, I all but sprinted to my car. I swear I almost gnawed off my steering wheel I was so hungry. Luckily, I had the sort of good fortune with traffic that is almost unheard of in Los Angeles. I hit every light en route to the highway (a minor miracle unto itself), and even better, there was no traffic. None! Zilch! I got from my garage in Hollywood to the restaurant in 17 minutes (normally it takes twice that long, even on a good night). I was ready to eat.
About a minute after I arrived at the restaurant, Tony and his lovely wife pulled up, and the three of us took a seat. Needless to say, there was no line:
I’m fairly certain the waiters all wanted to stab us as we walked in the door, given that they were all but ready to close down the place; however, they had to honor their hours, and so they handed us some menus, including a nifty After Midnight insert. I really didn’t know what to order; so I simply deferred to Tony and hoped his Asian-ness would lead us to culinary delights. He kept telling me “Get whatever you want!” but I just played the naÃ¯ve white card until finally he took the reins. Honestly, i was so hungry that I knew it would take me forever to parse through the menu. I become woefully indecisive when I’m famished (mostly because I want to be sure I order the PERFECT dish); so really, having Tony choose our food was the most expedient course of action. Plus, as I mentioned before, he’s Asian. The waiter eventually ambled over, Chinese was spoken, I smiled politely, and our order was placed.
Of course, Tony came prepared for this meal. He suddenly whipped out a green bottle of Korean rice wine and poured us a few cups’ worth. I can assure you the stuff was delicious and apparently super cheap (not to mention a tad stronger than typical beer). This dinner was off to a good start.
Arriving first at the table was a small bowl of clams. They were quite tasty, but honestly, I hardly remember their flavor. I was in such a hunger-fueled haze that I just sort of inhaled them.
Next came our two other dishes: a three pound crab and a whole lobster, both delicately fried and smelling wonderfully of garlic. The crab was actually this restaurant’s specialty, and with a wonderful heap of deep fried garlic on top, I could see why. It should come as no shock that I was practically drooling on the floor. A few hours prior, the last thing I expected to be having for dinner was a feast of crab, clams, and LOBSTER.
The next forty minutes were sort of a blur. I spent most of my time prying out crab meat and licking my fingers. I have to say that while the crab is the restaurant’s specialty, it was really the lobster the stole the show. Sweet, succulent, and also significantly easier to extract from the shell, this dish had me squealing with joy — at least internally.
Oh, and here’s the best part. The cost for the whole lobster: $10. Not per pound, not per person. $10 TOTAL. After midnight special FTW!
My growing pile of shells. Sort of like a crabby wigwam.
So thank you Tony C for introducing me to a new restaurant and saving me in my hour of culinary need. It was worth the wait.