Monday, February 11, 2008

1-9 Chinese Seafood Restaurant - Review

1-9 Chinese Seafood Restaurant - Highly Recommended
1021 US Highway 1, Avenel, NJ 07001
Phone: 732-602-8863

Following Devin's great post about authentic vs bastardized Chinese food, I went to a place that really does serve great Chinese food - imho it is authentic :) I've been to this place before and I suggested it for our family Chinese New Year's dinner. As usual, it kicked massive ars. Overall, I give the restaurant an 85/100.

My Menu

My mom did all the ordering, so I'm not 100% sure what these dishes are called. Here's my guess.

1) Fish Soup - Highly Recommended (must have)
2) Shrimp and Mayo - Average
3) Lobster - Highly Recommended
Salt, Pepper, and Chili Fish – Highly Recommended (must have)
5) Lamb Stew - Recommended
6) Snow Pea Tips - Recommended

7) Red Bean Soup - Recommended

Dish Comments
1) A clear, slightly sweet, and delicate soup. This was unbelievable and had the gentle essence of fish. The meat and bones of the fish used to make the soup is pan fried and served with tofu and some Chinese veggie. Nice compliment to the soup.
2) The standard fried shrimp and mayo combo that most Chinese restaurants serve. This wasn't quite up to expectation for me. Skin should have been crispier and the shrimp juicier. The sliced cantaloupe was a nice touch though.

3) Weird, but I was thinking I enjoyed this better than my lobster dish at The French Laundry. Basically a stir fry of lobster which just about every Chinese restaurant does. However, here they do it great - super tender and sweet lobster with such an unctuous flavor. Nothing delicate here, just pure impact.
4) Wonderful dish. Crispy fish that's slightly moist. The winner is the breading and the salty, pepper, and fresh chili combo. The salty, fresh chili thing is so addicting.
5) Relatively tender lamb, shitake, tofu skin and a bunch of spices (sugar cane is a great addition) makes this stew uber tasty. What appears to be romaine lettuce soaks up the stew perfectly. Would give this higher marks, but I've had this here before where the lamb was much more tender.
6) Snow pea tips cooked nicely. I've had this dish about 1000 times and the key is to get the sweetness of the veggie, while still maintaining the crunchiness. They got it right here.
7) Decent red bean soup. Not overpoweringly sweet, but sweet enough and had good red bean flavor.

Overall Restaurant Experience (85/100)

  • Food 8.6/10 – Very powerful tasting Chinese food. Nothing delicate here at all.
  • Service 8.0/10 – Waiter was very friendly and suggested some great dishes. The only complaint is the food got cold eventually since we ordered so many dishes and we only had 4 people. No fault of the restaurant, since most Chinese restaurants serve all the plates at once usually with more people eating.
  • Atmosphere 8.0/10 – Typical Chinese restaurant (except the lcd's on the wall) with the white table cloths and the red color on one side of the wall. The place is very large and tables are well spaced - not too cramped which is rare for a Chinese restaurant. Got there at 7pm on a Sunday night and it was basically empty, so we were seated right away. Be warned though, Saturdays (and Chinese holidays) this place is crazy packed. Crowd consisted of Chinese families.
  • Price 8.5/10 – My parents paid for the meal, but it looked like it would be reasonable...maybe $35 a head for that meal.
Closing Comments
Another great example of NW Jers representing with great authentic Chinese food. I think I had greater satisfaction coming out of Grand Shanghai, but that's probably because it was a new style of cuisine to me. 1-9 Chinese Seafood Restaurant definitely holds it down.

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