There are 172 items on the dinner menu at this big, handsome Chinese seafood restaurant, ranging from the expected (shrimp balls, whole crispy fish) to the exotic (stir-fried eel, sea cucumber with fish lips). What does one do in the face of such an array? Relax and explore. Even if you made your selection blindfolded, you'd probably be delighted with the results. That's how good this place is.
The problem is, lots of people know how good it is. So on a weekend night, you can expect bedlam: crowds, waits, and a noise level so high you'll need sign language to converse. Be warned, and go during the week.
For starters, shrimp balls are flawless: beautifully fried, with an airy texture and good flavor. Equally good are fried oysters, almost tempura-like in lightness, the briney oyster taste popping out at the first bite. Fish rolls are marvelous -- a puffy, golden batter outside, delicate and crunchy, with very firm, fresh fish and strips of ham within. They're also available in a larger portion as an entree. Shrimp dumplings are a pleasant appetizer but not as unusual as they sound, the filling consisting of the usual ground pork mixture to which some diced shrimp has been added.
We found the cold marinated squid a bit disappointing. It was perfectly fresh and tender, but barely marinated and without much flavor. An unusual entree is seafood crepes, in which a pureed shrimp mixture is wrapped around a core of ham, rolled in an egg crepe, lightly battered, quickly deep fried, and then sliced into disks. This excellent and very visual dish is beautifully laid out on the platter.
Stuffed duckling is another beauty to behold and to eat, with moist, flavorful meat topped with minced shrimp, deep fried and served in just a light wash of anise-flavored sauce.
Then there's flounder kew, a most dramatic looking dish. On a big platter, a whole flounder, fried to such a crisp turn that the skin and bones can be eaten. Piled on this golden, edible skeleton are filleted fish chunks and a mound of lively, colorful vegetables. And again, the lightest of sauces, lightly applied. Another marvelous fish dish is steamed whole sea bass, perfectly fresh, artfully arranged in a gentle curve on the platter, with ginger-laced black bean sauce.
The less unusual items are first class, too. Yu shang shrimp, for example, is a generous portion of plump, sweet-tasting shrimp in a sauce that's nicely peppery and garlicky. Vegetables are flawlessly done, too. "Four season" vegetables (baby corn, broccoli, straw mushrooms and snow peas) are crisp and lively, cooked just to tenderness, and with a properly restrained sauce.
For dessert, gamble on the coconut delight, a slab of quivery white gelatin that looks like what pillows are stuffed with, but tastes just fine.