(Jim Lacy visited this restaurant with a friend and wrote this recommendation without Janice, who was not with him.)
The first time I ever had “dim sum” was almost 25 years ago at a great but forgotten place in Taipei, Taiwan, when I visited during a trade mission as a young senior executive in the U.S. International Trade Administration. I had a young pretty Chinese guide provided by the Kuomintang Government and she took me to this restaurant because she said “Americans like shrimp,” and this place had a lot of dim sum shrimp dishes. I couldn’t believe all the hustle and bustle in the place and though my guide gave me the impression that shrimp was not a favored dish, I had knocked myself out on the dozens of shrimp presentations and all the other great little steamed and friend pleasantries a dim sum has to offer.
I haven’t quite had a meal like that in the U.S. until recently, when I had brunch with my friend, long-time Orange County Republican leader Tom Fuentes, at Capital Seafood in Irvine.
The Irvine restaurant, located in a strip mall on the corner of Jamboree and Alton that puts Waikiki’s International Village to shame, is one of the flagships of the 10 restaurant chain. We had a chance to meet James Tea, the managing partner, and he helped guide us through the menu.
Boy, did I like the shrimp! Among the several dim sum preparations we had were: “sugar cane shrimp,” a plump steamed shrimp stuck on a piece of grilled sugar cane; a great “green shrimp dumpling,” – a shrimp/chive chopped combination wrapped in a rice-flour steamed wonton; and a little steamed and fried, plumped-out shrimp on a stick – served hot on the outside but moist inside. We also enjoyed an excellent sliced roast duck breast rivaling the Noodle Shop’s at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas; barbecue sauce steamed bun, a sweet steamed bun with a chewy plum-like concoction inside; excellent Chinese broccoli; and good representations of the usual jasmine tea, plum sauce and red-hot chili pepper sauce.
This is a very authentic place with mostly Asian patrons in an upscale community. There were a number of items on the menu that I did not take advantage of, such as eight different Congree offerings, lots of barbecue, and plenty of chow fun and chow mein items. I suspect that if you like Chinese food, you can’t miss getting something you will enjoy at this busy place.
Capital was completely packed on a late Sunday morning but we did not have too much trouble getting a table. The bill for more than we could eat was only about $40 for two with a fair tip. Besides Irvine, there are restaurants in Garden Grove (the original), Rowland Heights, Monterey Park, Artesia, and Las Vegas.