I don't get it. I'm not Cantonese. I never grew up eating Cantonese food. Yet, for some odd reason, this Cantonese restaurant outside of Chinatown makes me feel right at home.
You know what I'm talking about, right? The type of restaurant where you walk in and you feel like you can just relax? Usually these places are far from fancy. Instead, more often than not, the food, ambiance, and menu are typically simple and straightforward.
For some reason I can't pinpoint, Victoria Seafood is that type of restaurant for me. Maybe it's the reasonably private and cushy booth seats Bryan and I always score whenever it's just the two of us. Maybe it's the prospect of ordering familiar favorites, such as the Deep Fried Tofu with Crab Sauce or the Fish Maw Soup. Or maybe the cheap prices of the food relieve any stress related to the cost of the meal.
Whatever the reason, whenever I begin poring over the menu at Victoria Seafood, I get excited at the idea of sitting back in a wide cushy booth while chewing, crunching, or slurping some of my favorite dishes.
After a reasonably long hiatus, we recently visited Victoria Seafood in Allston with medium sized group of friends. It was great - we had enough people to order several dishes, including the awesome ginger and scallions twin lobster deal (pictured above), which you can get for $15.99 if you spend enough money there. I can't remember the exact details, but it's something like you have to order at least 1-2 additional dishes or maybe spend at least another $15. In any event, it was not a problem for a group of 6 to fit the minimum requirement for the twin lobster deal.
The twin lobsters are good, and this is probably one of the lowest priced twin lobster deals in Boston.
Salt and Pepper Squid ($9.75)
I still have not found a really good salt and pepper squid in Boston, and this one was similarly mediocre. Most people at my table liked it, but I personally thought it was over-battered. The flavor was pretty good, but I was disappointed with the texture.
Fish Maw Soup ($9.25)
What is fish maw? The "maw" is actually the air bladder of the fish. It's got an interesting texture - sort of spongy, light, with a bit of bounce. The soup is generously filled with this stuff, making it a bit chowder-like, even though the soup itself is still quite light. As I mentioned before, this one of our favorite soups to order as a starter. Bryan loves pouring tons of white pepper on top.
Seafood In Nest ($13.95)
Bryan and I never order this when we are alone, but it presents nicely for a larger group. The "nest" is actually made of deep fried taro root. I actually did not like this dish. The seafood did not taste particularly fresh, and the flavors were uninspiring.
Braised Beef Hot Pot ($9.95)
However, I really liked the braised beef hot pot (which I had also never had until this dinner). The beef was nice and tender, made soft by being cooked for a long period of time in an aromatic soy-based broth. The meat was deep, rich, and flavorful. Everyone at the table really liked this.
Deep Fried Tofu with Crab Sauce ($9.95)
I love this dish. My Cantonese friend just told me she doesn't think it's Cantonese. I have no clue what it is, but frankly I don't really care as long as it's delicious. I love the rich, crab-flavored sauce (made up of real crab meat) that just douses the freshly fried tofu squares. It's delicious.
Pea Pod Stems ($13.95)
Pea Pod stems are one of my favorite greens to order in a Chinese restaurant. We like ordering it simply stir fried with garlic. I like the way they cook it here because it's not too greasy yet it's still very flavorful.
This is probably one of the best authentic Cantonese restaurants outside of Chinatown. In fact, once it opened, we visited Chinatown much less frequently because it was so easy to come here instead for a pretty good Cantonese food. The menu is quite authentic, and on any given night, the place will be teeming with Asians - a good sign! The prices are fantastic here, and you can have a feast without spending too much money. It's not the cleanest place in the world (definitely inspect your plates and silverware!), but the service is fast, the food is pretty good, and the environment is comforting.
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