Monday, February 7, 2011

Guppy House with Guppy Showmanship

It isn't everyday where I venture down to Irvine to have a meal. It is even rarely that I would have Asian food so far south. But this last Wednesday afternoon, I happened to have a little bit of free time, so I hoped onto my car with a friend and went down to the OC to meet up with a third friend and had a little mini OC adventure.

We started off the afternoon actually exploring the various parts of the OC. We ventured off to the Korean Friendship Bell down in San Pedro. Following we stopped by Long Beach and spent a little time on the boardwalk. We then stopped by Signal Hill to see the lights of greater Los Angeles. Finally we ended up in Irvine in the plaza where Guppy House was at. There were plenty of other restaurants to choose from ranging from a Thai restaurant, to a Korean tofu house, to a Chinese seafood palace, and even the famous 85c bakery.

(Pineapple Fried Rice)

Immediately after walking into the room, I knew exactly what I wanted. Nearly every other table had an order of their pineapple fried rice. The fried rice is fried with ham, pineapple, peas, corn and carrots with pork sung and raisins on top. The whole thing is served on half of a pineapple shell. The presentation alone sells this dish easily. It just looks like it's a lot of work and very elaborately made. But the truth is it's just decently fried rice served in a pineapple shell. The fried rice was flavorful and the sweetness of the pineapple did come through. The raisins after mixing it into the rice gave it a little bit of a surprising contrast in the rice. But the pork sung just didn't go well with the rest of it. The pork sung never really blended into the rice. Whenever it entered my mouth, it was distinct and distracting from the rest of the blend. This had a lot to do with the fact that pork sung is just too dry to blend in a dry plate of fried rice. Perhaps it's just because I'm more used to eating pork sung with congee.

(Kimchi Dumplings)
The kimchi dumplings came after the fried rice. I suppose the fried rice is so popular that they have it all ready and made and just a matter of plating. So it took nearly no time at all to get to our table. The dumplings came with two different sauces, a sweetened soy sauce and a vinger sauce. The word kimchi in the name may be a little misleading since these are not fermented at all. It really is just normal Taiwanese cabbage dumplings. Kimchi by definition is fermented vegetables and the vegetables inside are not fermented at all. I did actually liked the texture of the dumplings. The skin was nice and soft at the correct thickness. It held the dumpling in place when it's picked up by a chopstick while after entering mouth, it didn't feel like I was eating flour. The balance between the cabbage and the pork was also very good. I always hate dumpling houses that jam pack their dumpling with meat. It too hard and too heavy to eat. These were very well done. The two flavors of dipping sauces was a bonus, giving my taste buds a little bit of contrast between each dumpling.

(Sweet And Sour Popcorn Chicken)
Finally the sweet and sour popcorn chicken arrived at our table after most of the other dishes were devoured. I suppose one should never expect a Chinese restaurant to actually serve an appetizer in the beginning of a course. It's servered whenever it's ready to be served is really the trademark of every Chinese restaurant. I have yet to dine at a Chinese restaurant where appetizers and entree were served in order except during a formal banquet. As my mother always say, it all ends up blended up in our stomach anyways.

The sweet and sour popcorn chicken were pretty standard for a Taiwanese joint. The chicken and the batter didn't particularly stand out to me. I've had plenty of better popcorn chicken in my life all around the San Gabriel Valley. The sauce however did make this one stand out just a tad bit. It was a bit more sweet than sour, which I have come to expect when it comes to Taiwanese dishes. They tend to be on the sugary side. I have to watch out for diabetes since it runs in my family so I tend think negatively on sugary foods. But once in a while, I do indulge myself on a deep fried sweet and sour indulgence lik this sweet and sour popcorn chicken.

Guppy House is pretty clean for the most part, after they wiped the dirty chair that I pointed out. The foods were mediocre but we were hungry. The presentation of the food was clean and crisp and I can't complain. I just wonder where do they get all those half pineapple shells. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wonder if they recycle them. I certainly hope not. I have really no reason to suspect something like that, but I've seen some horrific things in my past what some Chinese restaurants would do to save money. Nonetheless I doubt I will ever revisit Guppy House only because it's way too far from where I live, and not good enough for me to ever warrant that drive. I really have no real reason to visit that plaza, maybe except for 85c bakery. But if I did live closer, I may come back once in a while for a little bit of that pineapple fried rice without the pork sung.

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