[CRA 2010 Signature Dish] Roasted Squab 紅燒乳鴿 from Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant, Richmond

Updated 31st Oct 2014; This restaurant had moved to a new location as per the address on Urbanspoon.

We had been planning for this on and off for quite a number of weeks now. We had been saving this place up to check it out with a group of people. This is because (1) Sea Harbour won two CRA awards for 2010, and (2) it is kind of an expensive place that, well, will be kind of lost on our boys.

I finally managed to get this going after a couple of tries.

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Sea Harbour is one of those restaurants in Richmond where you see the parking lot with highest percentage of luxurious cars. The parking lot is big with some more lots around the back of the building. But even that it is full during peak meal times.

One option is to park across the street in Yaohan Center but be warned. If you are forced to park there, you should pretend to walk into Yaohan Center before you head across the street. There are people who look out for cars to tow. They make a lot of money doing it and trust me, they are very efficient. Best way is to park, go in one entrance and go out another. Those lookouts are smart about people walking in and out already.

Anyway, the Yaohan Center parking is just as hellish. So, really the best thing is to go as early as possible.

And that is what we did. Dinner was at 6:00PM and the parking lot was empty.

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The interior looks grand and quite tastefully decorated. It is festooned with gold everywhere. No real gold of course but the decor shouts opulence with chairs upholstered in gold fabric, newish looking carpets and tables with double table cloth.

We had been here before. For dim sum. As a mere salaryman, I can’t afford to bring the family here for dinner, not all the time.

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The table setting is nice. The napkins are gold (in color). The plate is gold (in color). The rectangular dish for the hot towel is also gold (in color). Actually the gold (in color) plates are cheap plastic. But hey … it is still gold (in color).

Service is impeccable. The captain, manager or whatever they call the senior guy is professional and polite. You know, this are the kind of place where they change your plate very often … and they do.

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Looking at the menu, I was thinking … OMG, did I make a mistake in organizing this dinner. I mean, we could easily spend half a month’s dine out budget eating here.

Yeah … a dish costing $16.80 is considered cheap on their menu. You should have seen their other pages. No, I did not take pictures of the entire menu. I had to pretend to maintain dignity by not taking too many pictures.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was going to come here to try their two award winning dishes. Sea Harbour won:

  • Gold in the Prawns category with the Pan Fried Prawns with Soy, and
  • Silver in the Squab category with their Roasted Squab

I really was set getting this. The day before the dinner, JS was warning me that the prawns could be expensive since spot prawns is out of season already. Yup, it turned out that it was more expensive.

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This is kind of how it was at our table. Someone told me (or maybe I read somewhere) something funny. I can’t recall who, when or where. A blogger was dining somewhere and was taking pictures. That drew a comment from a customer saying that “back in his days, people take pictures of pretty girls”!

Isn’t it quite the norm these days? I see a lot of people nonchalantly taking pictures of their food in restaurant.

Did you also notice that it is mostly the girls who takes pictures of food? Right? Somehow it is cooler for girls to take pictures of food. Restaurants tolerate that. For guys taking pictures, the restaurant thinks we are spies or a competitor … especially those with big SLRs.

So it was good dining with bloggers. ALL of them understand protocol. Oh yeah. Pictures first … don’t touch the food until the last camera had been put down.

So we had a few foodie bloggers in attendance … the inseparable JS-TS, the globe trotting ET and Christina and the omnipresence Grayelf. Gracing the event too is a foodie from New York, Eunice. She has a blog but it was last updated almost 1 year ago. But she has something new up her sleeve which she describes it as a “pandora for food”.

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Meal started off with some lemon tea. Full compliment of the restaurant. Served oddly in a bowl not a cup, they only gave us two.

Everyone was too shy to drink it. I think everyone thinks that it is meant for the most senior on the table and no one wants to have that honour.

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They already know we wanted the Pan Fried Prawns with Soy. I called the previous day to make sure that they have the two dishes and have them reserved for us.

So they brought the prawns to the table — live — for us to inspect before bringing back to the kitchen to cook. I should have taken a closer look but am a noob at these things. So I said, yeah OK.

Tell me … what do you look for when they bring live seafood to you?

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The reason I asked you that question was … I was quite disappointed with the dish when … I saw it served. While a few prawns were big and nice, most of them were disappointingly small. I would call them shrimp!

Just to remind you … this is the GOLD award winning dish.

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Since the prawns are not in season now it is very expensive. We paid $26.80 per pound. So this dish came to $53.

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Mind you, some of the prawns are big. Like this monster one I had.

You know, I think prawns from North America is not as delicious as those in Asia. I mean the meat is more flavourful. But having said that, the spot prawns here have the best head. Very big and I eat them whole if it is deep fried. Awesome.

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He he he … I scored one that had the eggs. That made me a happy boy.

In my opinion, this is not as good as Koon Bo’s which I enjoyed a lot more. Sea Harbour’s is just not as crispy and as caramelized. Check my post on Koon Bo here and see what I mean.

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We also had soup. It is the Water Cress Soup with Pork. As per expensive places, they brought the whole pot to the table to show us and then take it to the side to serve the soup in smaller bowls. The soup does smell heavenly. It is a very clear tasting soup … no nonsense with stuff and all … just pure clear delicious tasting soup.

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The pork and water cress vegetable is served on a separate plate. This is my kind of thing and always enjoys this when Suanne makes it at home.

The problem is, you gotta eat this very fast … while it is still hot and moist. It gets dry very fast and it become … urgh.

BTW, guess how much this is … $41!

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A dab of soya sauce is what I eat this with.

After this dinner, I asked Suanne to make this at home. She snapped at me saying “you’re crazy … you know how hot it is to make this?”.

I guess I gotta wait till winter to enjoy this at home.

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The globe trotting member of the table said that we should order the Sea Harbour Assorted Cold Cut Platter. It is a cold appetizer.

It comes in two sizes … Regular $24.80 and Large $48.00. We got the small one.

It has spicy jelly fish, bean curd roll with mushroom filling, pork slices 2 ways, poached and marinated.

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The Roasted Squab.

Sea Harbour won silver with this dish.

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JS ate the head. I have never attempted this before.

I need training, JS. Can you explain how to eat the head? LOL! Like where do you start off with first … which part is edible and which is not?

I can’t help but compare this with Koon Bo. Firstly it is smaller. Not much meat but at least it was not as salty as Koon Bo’s.

My take? Meh.

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This is the pick of the omnipresent Grayelf. Stewed Pork Belly with Soy Sauce and more affordable at $14.80.

The Dung Po Yoke is what the Chinese call it. It is fatty pork belly — the fattest of the fattest part of the fattest of the fattest pig.

The sauce gives this dish a sweetish taste and to balance out the richness of the sauce is the bok choy.

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This always had to be served cut into 1.576 square in dimension. The top part must be 51% fat and bottom must be 49% part lean meat.

OK, I made that up but I think you know what I mean.

I just checked Wikipedia and it has the following to say about this famous Chinese dish:

Legend has it that while Su Dongpo was banished to Huangzhou, in a life of poverty, he made an improvement of the traditional process. He first braised the pork, added Chinese fermented wine and made red-braised pork, then slowly stewed it on a low heat. This dish was first launched in Huangzhou, then spread to Hangzhou, the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty, flourished, and then became one of Hangzhou’s most famous dishes.

Can you think of any dish more lethal than this one?

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The Stewed Eggplant with Spicy Fish Sauce in Casserole is another “cheap” dish we ordered, $15.80.

It has minced pork and is good with steamed rice. The pot looks kind of like they came from a outdoor eatery … it just stood out like a sore thumbs amidst all the gold (color) in the restaurant.

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The Beef Stir fry with Pea Sprout is $21. It has straw mushroom. The beef was tender. We like the tender pea sprout which is without hard stem.

Yeah, it is good.

Yeah, it is $21.

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Yeah, it is about $35 per person.

I can’t come to places like this often. That’s OK because while the dinner was good, I just did not think it was $300 good.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant 海港大酒楼 on Urbanspoon

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  1. Yes, pricey. And we seldom go to Richmond to eat. (I know unbelievable but we have to save our money for other stuff.) We brought along 2 visiting relatives from Germany. I am not 100% certain they understood the restaurant’s pricing and range.

  2. I can’t help but notice the iPhone in the 5th photo lol. The food’s nice and all, but the iPhone is a real beauty 🙂

    1. Yeah, I meant to ask Eunice to send me the pictures from her iPhone 4. I read that the picture quality is much better than the 3GS model I am using. Would be a great excuse to upgrade. 🙂 Ben

  3. That bowl of lemon and tea is for dipping the hands to “wash” after eating things such as crab/lobsters/prawns usually the greasy stuff.

    Nothing to be embarrassed about if anyone did drink it though, my friends have done it a number of times 😛

    1. You fell for Ben’s trap =P

      1. Oh my haha I fell for that one good!

        1. No! Don’t dip your fingers in. We use the bowl of leman tea to rinse mouth before taste the seafood 🙂

          1. Oh … SO! If you use the lemon tea for rinsing the mouth, do you gulp down the tea or do you spit it back to the bowl? Please advise. LOL!

          2. Hi Ben, you probably forgot our tradition had a pot under the table. Next time, please seek for the pot to spit in. Don’t miss it, you may need practice at home to prevent wetting the floor 🙂

          3. Ah yes. Speaking about that. There is a word for it — a spitoon. When I was young in Malaysia, it was still common under every table in a restaurant. Gross! I always kick that to the middle of the table (slowly, of course, lest I end of spilling the contents). Over the years, it became rarer until it eventually disappeared. The only place you could find it is where you get traditional wedding supplies places where it is more for show than anything. About the only place I see the practice of spitting nowadays is in the soccer field and the hockey ice rink. Gross!! Ben

    2. LOL!!! I have seen people drinking it many times…but nothing wrong with it…just tea and lemon

    3. It is actually used as a dip for seafoods. Lemon and seafood go together but if you just use lemon, it will be too tart. Thats why in Chinese restaurants they dilute it with tea or water. Try it next time you eat seafoods in a Chinese restaurant.

  4. I thought the dinner was pretty pricey for the stuff that we got. That said, I enjoyed the dinner, because of the company. Most of the items were good enough, but like you, I think I expected more given the price tag.

    Re the squab head: every part is edible! Well, except the beak. Just bite to break the skull, suck the little bird-brain out of the skull, then eat everything except the beak. LOL I’m still wondering why we didn’t get any necks with the squabs though: maybe those were the cooks’ rewards.

    1. I love the squab heads!!! If I don’t see the heads on the plate when I order these birds…I will definitely complain! But I actually eat every part of the head…including the beak…very crunchy!

    2. Oh Gosh, JS. Suck the brain out of the skull of the Squab out?!? I shuddered when I read that. But still … I will fight you for the squab head next time. LOL! I didn’t know there is a neck too. For that kind of price we pay, I would have asked the restaurant “where’s the neck? I want it!” 🙂 Ben

  5. Wow, that is a very expensive soup and its not even shark fin. I think Sea Harbour is a bit overrated.

    1. Agree! Food is good, but sometimes the ingredients they use are not quality stuff (for the price your pay)…

  6. I used to get roasted squabs from the BBQ meat vendor at Yaohan food court. You know the one that sells all kinds of meat cut like BBQ pork, duck, soy chicken? It locates next to the side door. It was pretty inexpensive if you suddenly have craving for roasted squabs, 3 little squabs for 6 dollars. I don’t know they still have that deal today because they did change ownership last year or earlier than that.

    Granted they are small without a lot of meat (not too salty). But you also say that squabs from Sea Harbour are small and without much meat.

    I think a lot of Chinese BBQ meat shops also have squabs with pretty small price. That’s a convenient and inexpensive way to satisfy your craving for roasted squab.

    The best squabs I ever had was in Hong Kong, big and juicy. Since I have never heard anyone had big and juicy squabs in Vancouver, there is no point to pay big price for average squabs. Squabs from BBQ shops will do. 🙂

    1. Those sold in Yaohan food court are actually roast quails not squabs. Actually, I haven’t seen any barbq place here that sells roast squabs.

      1. True…why is it that I don’t really see big squabs here?

      2. Hi Crispy Lechon, I saw squab at a corner stall which specializes in ‘lung kong’ chicken at the strip mall where New Town Bakery is. They are like 2 for $20. Btw, they also sell cooked free range chicken like salt baked chicken and ‘kwei fei’ chicken. Half for $10+ but the whole chicken is only $13.80. Pretty good deal.

        1. Hi Suanne, thanks for the good tip. I know that BBQ stall near Newtown. Its right next door to the new Pinoy restaurant Cucina Manila. I haven’t really bought anything from them as they dont seem to be busy enough that their BBQ meats will be fresh. I might be wrong. Anyway, I have to try their kwei fei chicken and possibly the roast squab.

    2. Hi Corsica: I know what you mean about the “squab” in Yaohan. I used to get that each time we ate at the Yaohan Center’s food court. I like that a lot but it was eons ago. Ben

  7. Agree that the company was tip top but the meal perhaps not. I’ve had better at Sea Harbour, even down to the individual dish — the pork belly was way more tender and unctuous when we had it before.

    I liked the beef and pea tips and the eggplant but neither struck me as unusual in any way. The two signature dishes were okay (I prefered the prawns here to those at Koon Bo, and I liked the skin on the squab better here) but they didn’t really seem too award worthy. The prawns were snapping at me something fierce on their way by to Ben for perusal, which is usually a good sign.

    I didn’t taste the soup for some reason, oops.

    And I believe the word you were looking for is omnipotent, Ben, or at least omnivore :-).

    1. Hi Grayelf: I was looking for a word that says that you are EVERYWHERE there is food. But I guess omnipresence means being everywhere all at once. 🙂 Ben

      1. I know, I was just teasing. I sound like a credit card: “Grayelf is everywhere you want to be eating” or something :-).

  8. Mmmm everything looks so yummy!!! Btw that lemon tea, I think its for washing your fingers after eating the prawns with them.

  9. The food looks good but…$35 per person? Hm…

    Having tried authentic Chinese food back in Asia I am always reluctant to go to these big Chinese restaurants. They can never compare…

  10. Even for double boiled soup, that is unnecassary expensive for soup. I guess they charged per person at $6 per head. Which should be $36. Not sure how they got $40.80.
    Squab is about $3 more than some more casual looking(no gold plates) Chinese restaurant. As is some of the other dishes.

    Agree the Koon Bo prawns are very good. It has a nice soya caramel finish. I can’t compare to SH as i’ve not ordered this dish here. I prob won’t till next spot prawns season at this prices. Saw them for $15.99 recently at the fish market, possibly at T&T.
    One of my fav dish here is the crab/lobster kabucha clay/hot pot. Definitely a pricy item
    for sure. Also during the day they got limited steam bun with salted duck yolk(I think) which is also really good.
    Not kidding about the nice cars outside. They certainly cater to a richer demographic. There are certainly better food values in the city. Especially true in price sensitve Richmond.
    If you take away the prawn dish, dinner would be closer to $25. Which is more bearable to dine in gold plates, albeit plastic ones!! 😉

  11. OMG!!! I wanna go too!!! LOL!!! I must admit Sea Harbour does have the best roasted squab, but we stopped going there because they were quite “cocky” (especially that manager dude Marco). Well, to make the long story short, once we made a reservation for 14 people and asked for 7 roasted squab, but they were only willing to give us 3 (and have each cut in 4’s)…we were choked!!! I mean, even if you cute each bird in 4’s, you still cannot feed 14 people (and Marco stated “not everyone will eat it”…OMG!) Anyways, we asked why and their reason was “we need to save for those walk-in customers, just in case they want some!” OMG!!! What does he mean by “just in case”? I believe I had just guaranteed him a business, didn’t I??? Anyways…the so-called “managers” (in suits) provide good service but those ones in uniforms were useless. BUT, the food was good!!!

    1. Hi Buddha Girl: I remember reading your story of the squabs with Sea Harbour. I thought it was kind of strange too. It was like they were reserving this for some of their big time regulars … and some of them does look like that way from the attention they get. Ben

      1. BEN: It was kind of strange to us too! This place is very “money-oriented”…LOL!!! My mother-in-law heard from her MJ buddies that the owner has number of agreements with travel agencies from China tourists…where the money are these days!

    2. Have to say that it is standard practice for restaurants to limit the number of squabs you order. I guess they just don’t want one table to hog all of the squabs, given the limited quantity. It has happened to us at Sun Sui Wah, Red Star, Fishermans Terrace. . .I think even Koon Bo. We haven’t been able to order more than 3 squabs per table.

      1. JS: Yes, I have experienced that restaurants limiting the numbers of squabs due to the shortage of supply…but that’s usually when you’re a walk-in and order on-the-spot. I never experienced it anywhere if I made a reservation one week in advance and pre-order the birds…even when we were walk-in’s…we never had a problem at Sun Sui Wah, Red Star, or Top Gun…and usually, we estimate a half bird per person…so for a group of ten…we would order five…grrrr…I am still choked…hahahaha!

  12. I love how every time there is a lemon tea at your table to have to specifically talk about it. LOL! 🙂

    Agree with JS, the food seems quite expensive. Especially the soup in my opinion! Other items seem a bit more reasonably priced in my opinion, similar in price to my Sea Harbour.

    I like the photo of the people taking pictures of food. At least it isn’t all D-SLRs! Or else that would be scary. I agree about the male with D-SLR stuff. A server at an expensive restaurant would not let me take pictures of food or the restaurant after I had taken pictures of the restaurant and the menu but not the food, while a female with a cellphone camera took pictures of the food and the server didn’t mind.

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