On the Line: Eric Souka of Capital Seafood, Part One
Photo by Meranda Carter
The latest branch of Capital Seafood greeted guests just less than a month ago, bringing its signature Asian cuisine to the lifestyle venue known as the Irvine Spectrum. Executive director Eric Souka has been cooking with Capital for more than 30 years, and he was gracious enough to meet between the lunch and dinner rushes to discuss his preferences.
What are six words that describe your food?
Tasteful, fresh, unique, authentic, from-the-heart, passion.
What are eight words that describe you?
Hard-working, motivated, passionate, respectful, creative, driven, positive, confident.
Your best recent food find:
Lemongrass barbecue chicken from Asia de Cuba in Hollywood. We were there for a birthday.
Most undervalued ingredient:
Fish sauce enhances the flavor in many dishes.
Rules of conduct in the kitchen:
My way, or the highway.
One food you detest.
I've never enjoyed sour flavors in food or beverage.
One food you can't live without.
I enjoy eating fresh noodles with a passion.
Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
Vietnamese pho noodle restaurants, like Pho Kimmy in Westminster.
What fast food do you admit to eating?
I love the freshness of In-N-Out burgers. [Editor's Note: Souka orders a double double without cheese and adds grilled onions.]
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Cook with sauces when cooking Chinese food at home.
Here, having a nice cocktail with friends.
Favorite celebrity chef.
Iron Chef Chen Kenichi has a great presence in the kitchen.
Celebrity chef who should shut up.
Martin Yan just talks too much.
Favorite music to cook by:
Classical Chinese music makes me relax in the kitchen.
Best food city in America:
I would definitely say Los Angeles because of the diversity in cultures and variety of cuisines that are offered.
What you'd like to see more of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
More authentic cuisines and real traditional foods.
What you'd like to see less of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
Iron Chef Chen's Knockout Chinese by Chen Kenichi.
When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
Out fishing for fresh seafood on overnight boat trips in San Diego or Mexico.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
The weirdest thing would have to be an alligator. I must admit, it tasted pretty darn good.
You're making breakfast. What are you having?
Fresh noodles in a nice soup broth.
You're at the market. What do you buy two of?
Chicken-breast bones. I have to use the breast bones to make a nice chicken stock.
Weirdest customer request:
Cooking my dishes without any sauces. That would just be so plain and bland, so I didn't do it.
Capital Seafood's newest location is at 85 Fortune Dr., Ste. 329, Irvine, (949) 788-9218; www.capital-seafood.com.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.