Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sacramento, CA 95818
New Canton is one of our favorite real-deal Chinese restaurants in Sacramento, known for its dim-sum, seafood tanks, and a menu that doesn't shy away from chicken feet and frog-leg-congee.
They're always dependable for dim sum and break out the carts: the BBQ pork and duck are especially tasty. The dining room is riskier territory: the food is often tasty, but orders are often messed up and the occasional dish falls flat on its (proverbial) ass. I'm still willing to roll the dice: when New Canton gets it right, it's well, right. And sometimes a woman just needs to eat some damn chicken feet.
In any case:
The crab in black bean sauce is especially good here. Crab is fished out of the restaurant's many large holding tanks and sauteed with spicy black bean sauce and plenty of fresh onion and scallion. The black bean flavor is not pronounced: the flavor tends more toward the scallion end of things, which is fine by me. This crab was nice and big and had a good sweet flavor. I will be tragically sad when Dungeness season is really, entirely, over.
What a disappointment! This nice big black cod was tragically overcooked, turning its flesh mealy and distinctly unappealing. I am very fond of a nice steamed ginger-scallion fish, and I find it rather offensive when a noble critter such as this gives its life for no good end. Badly played. A 30 dollar overcooked fish is especially, well, uncool.)
I ALSO did not get to eat any of the fish cheeks as my dad stole them before it even occurred to me to make a play for them. Admittedly if this is the biggest trauma in my recent life, I should be feeling rather fortunate.
We were set back on track with these clams in black bean sauce. Although the sauce is a tad heavier on the corn starch then I usually prefer, this is a worthy rendition of a classic dish. I can confirm it is prepared just about the same in Hong Kong, which is where my mom developed her taste for it. (Off topic, but it never even occurs to me to cook clams at home. I need to remedy that.)
Ah, I do so dearly love my Chinese greens and "assorted fungi." It's a simple preparation in abalone sauce, but its clean tasting and delicious and I generally finagle an order in whenever we go for Chinese. If nothing else, these make a nominally healthy counterpart to the fried and greasy dishes you may be partaking in as well. I really miss the truly wacky fungi I used to partake of in China: the tree-ear mushrooms, those glutinous and spongy (but tasty) web-like things, the ginormous meaty enokis...oh dear, I am becoming afflicted with nostalgia, I should be slapped.
Service at New Canton is usually distracted and disorganized, if earnest in that particular Southern Chinese way. I am usually pretty willing to forgive Cantonese restaurants on their service skills. I've come to consider disjointed service, ridiculous volume levels, and shouting matches in Cantonese to be sort of the appeal of authentic Chinese food. (This is not the case at New Canton for dinner, but is very much the case during Sunday dim sum service, if you were wondering.)
Despite occasional slip-ups, I'd still highly recommend New Canton for real Chinese food in downtown Sacramento. And you can most definitely order frog congee. Not that I ever do. But I like knowing that I can.