99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Newport Tan Cang Seafood

photo by Amy Scattergood

At Newport Tan Cang Seafood, the hugely popular, Vietnamese-inflected Chinese restaurant located in a former Marie Callender’s on Las Tunas, you’ll likely wait for your table in the same part of the restaurant that houses tanks of crustaceans. Many will stare at you as you wait; many more will bear a passing resemblance to the frightening extraterrestrial from Alien. For those who grew up believing that a trip to the aquarium was the same thing as a trip to 99 Ranch, though, those tanks won’t be as scary as that wait: On a weekend night, it feels like half the San Gabriel Valley is here, and here specifically for the restaurant’s formidable house special lobster. The lobster of Newport clocks in at 5 pounds or more; it comes out fried and fiery red, showered with black pepper, chiles and scallions and not so much placed as heaped on a plate. Most tables, you’ll notice, also have a spread of clams, shaking beef (bo luc lac), pan-fried pork chops and fried rice, all of which are very, very good and, as it happens, pretty much represent all that is wonderful about eating in the San Gabriel Valley.

-- Tien Nguyen