This week, we’re back to Asian cuisine! Which is super broad. Actually, this week’s restaurant was super broad as well. Though Google claims that SEA Restaurant specializes in Vietnamese food, it literally stands for “South East Asian Restaurant,” so I’m just going to assume that what I ate was mainly Vietnamese food with some little tidbits and influences from elsewhere.
So, this was very exciting for me because not only do Asian cuisines, overall, tend to be some of my favorites, but also, I was so very much looking forward to finally trying pho for the first time. So, of course, Ryan joined again for this week’s meal and, of course, we ordered some pho in our assortment of dishes, but I’ll get back to that later.
For starters, we just had to go for the fried egg rolls, which have always been a huge favorite of mine. These egg rolls, however, reminded me more of spring rolls: smaller, with a thinner and crispier exterior. Yet, whatever they may or may not have been, they surely were enjoyed. I love when you can tell that something is fresh, piping hot, and directly out of the fryer, and this was definitely one of those cases.
And now onto the first of our two shared entrees: the seafood and vegetable medley. This dish was a combo of shrimp, scallops, and squid with mixed cooked vegetables, all wrapped up in a thick, glaze-like sauce. Everything involved in this was cooked to perfection. The seafood was all perfectly tender and not even a bit chewy, and the vegetables were soft and warm yet still maintained a bit of structure and crunch. The flavors were so nice, and the sauce was just a bit salty and fishy, which complimented the seafood very nicely. This enhanced the overall freshness. And the vegetables soaked up that sauce so delectably, making perfect little flavor pockets. We thoroughly enjoyed this dish.
Also thoroughly enjoyed — and the star of this review — was our second entrée, the eyeround steak and meatball pho. This dish had such stellar balance. All of the fillings of this soup were hearty and lovely on their own, but were so greatly enhanced by the contrasting sweet broth. The broth was light and bright, and had such a wonderful depth of flavor. There was a healthy serving of cilantro garnishing this dish, as well — which was far more flavorful than expected and absolutely complementary to the overall balance. I also thought I was detecting some coconut and maybe some lemongrass in there, but I could be entirely incorrect. In any case, the flavors’ sweet freshness brought out the pho’s meaty fillings so wonderfully. The thin slices of steak added a nice element of chewiness to the dish, while the meatballs brought something entirely new and different up to the plate.
I did not really know what to expect from Vietnamese meatballs. I’d say these felt, to me, sort of along the lines of a meatball-dumpling crossover. They were small and definitely had a meaty flavor, yet were airy and bouncy. This makes me guess they were poached or boiled. Whatever they truly were, they were a new experience for me, one that I loved and felt very fortunate to have had.
This trip to SEA Restaurant was totally satisfying and definitely well worth it. We thought everything was very fairly priced. The menu offered many small dishes that seemed pretty cheap, and even the larger, more intense entrée dishes were absolutely affordable. And, hopefully, the fact that this place is well within walking distance from campus (just past College Town) should encourage some of y’all to get out there and give it a go.
Do I hope to SEA ya later, SEA restaurant? Pho sho.