Capital Seafood in the Diamond Jamboree Center of Irvine has all of the necessary qualities of a fine dining establishment--linen napkins, chandelier lighting and attentive servers--without the prices such touches suggest. This most upscale outpost of the mini-chain of Chinese eateries manages to fill the menu with items that range from moderately priced, fixed-menu dinners for large groups to affordable seafood dishes--and even cheaper specials.
On weekdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., you can get a whole Peking duck for only $12, half of the normal price. Following Chinese tradition, tea is served throughout your meal, and once you finish stuffing those steamed buns with the carved bird, you are presented with sweet red bean soup. The best dessert, however, is the baked crispy bread with almond cream.
Described by our server as the dessert that's "good for your skin," it stands out among the list of congee combinations. The crispy bread dessert bakes until it puffs up like a souffle, and inside you find almond cream that's the consistency of a thin soup. The bread is doughy and flaky, reminiscent of a croissant. Once you break through the lid with your soup spoon, you're greeted by a strong but pleasant almond aroma. Within the almond cream lurk ginkgo nuts, soft and chewy. Ginkgo nuts don't have a strong flavor but are said to be good not only for your skin, but for memory, and at $4.25 for an order of this dessert, it's a cheap alternative to a jar of La Mer and a trip down the supplement aisle at Whole Foods.
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2700 Alton Pkwy.