V.I.P. Harbor Seafood
11701 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
Review by Diana DeRiggs
The last question is normally answered by a shrug and the reply, "That's Los Angeles." But the guy at the front desk made us promise that if he seated us, we'd "order fast, kitchen closed" -- so we did. He also recommended dishes from the first page, where the specials are listed. The waiter ran over and we made quick decisions: seafood tofu casserole, chinese fried chicken, salt-baked squid, and string beans with XO sauce. They came out in mere minutes, and we ate as the tables were cleared around and the place was tidied up for the evening.
It was completely worth it! The squid ... wow, it was tender, with none of the stretch-and-chaw properties normally associated with the multi-tentacled invertebrate (not that I mind that at all!). I have no idea how they do that. The stringbeans were deepfried (sans batter) then tossed with minced pickled mustard greens, garlic and XO sauce (see Iron Chef, any of Chen's battles if you want to know what that is) for a strong tasting seasoning. It was delicious. The tofu with shrimp was rather bland, in contrast, but it was good with soy sauce and rice the next day. And the chicken was quickly dipped in boiling oil and served with a salt/pepper seasoning, also strong and sharp and good.
We ate about half the food while listening to the staff eat their meal in the otherwise empty restaurant. We contemplated asking for some of their food -- they seemed to be enjoying it so much and it smelled good! But they finished quickly, turned off the lights in the kitchen, and had started playing cards. We asked for the remainder of our meal to be packed up, which they did quickly and efficiently, and we paid the $30 bill and left. The scary guys in valet parking happily said good night to us, even though parking came to nothing for having eaten at the restaurant.
Leftovers were made into Japanese-style "domburi" (some rice, covered with leftover meat and vegetables, then immersed in hot broth), and they were great there, too! All in all, a great place to eat, even on the run!
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