When I told Chewy I prefer the Pacific Seafood in South Yarra to the one in Richmond, he looked at me like I was speaking heresy. I know that Richmond is the original, and that being on Victoria Street it has more 'street cred' than Toorak Road. But I found the food and service better at South Yarra, and while neither scores big on the ambience stakes it is also the nicer of the two places to eat. Actually I find the Lonsdale Street version of the three the nicest to eat at, but then that's a very different style of place.
Pacific Seafood is one of the few Chinese style places to eat amongst the Vietnameseish restaurants on Victoria Street. It has the usual ducks, chickens and crispy pork hanging in the window, a few mirrors (to make it look bigger and better lit than it is?) and dishes listed in both Chinese and English on the walls with a small aquarium at the back. The ordering point for takeaway is right by the door, so it's sometimes necessary to push through to get staff's attention if you want a table.
First thing I noticed when entering was just how dark and cramped it seemed. Now as long as the food is stored and cooked properly I'm not fussy but Pacific Seafood didn't have a great feel to it. Service was as brusque but efficient as you'd expect and menus, tea and complimentary soup soon appeared on the table. I thought I'd order the fish congee as an entrée. I didn't pay attention to the price and was expecting a small bowl. Next time I'll pay more attention as it was pricey because it was as large as the mains. Served with deep fried noodles on top for extra texture, it was slightly thicker than some I've tried, which I liked, and quite generous with the fish. While more comfort food for the cold weather I enjoyed this and would happily order it again.
The scallops with spring onion and ginger were ok but not as good as the congee. The scallops were frozen rather than fresh and a little over-steamed, lacking a bit in texture and taste.
Next on the menu were some roast meats: crispy pork and roast duck. Now I know the meats here have a good reputation, and when I've had them at the other two stores they've been really good, but these weren't quite what I was hoping for. I know you don't always get a lot of meat on a duck but this one appeared to be more bone than meat. Also, the skin on the pork was more chewy than crisp. Even the rice was a bit dry and clumpy. I may have just been a bit unlucky with the serve I got but it was a bit disappointing.
Beef with bitter melon is one of Hungry Pete's favourite dishes but I'd never tried it before. It's a strongly flavoured dish and probably not to my taste but other than a bit too much black bean sauce I thought this was well prepared. The beef itself was nicely cooked, tender and not at all chewy with the occasional flash of pink.
Best of the dishes though, and not just because it's always one of my favourites, was the beef brisket in claypot. Nice beef flavours, tender meat and a few pieces of tendon thrown in, this is something I could happily eat every day.
With decent food but dodgy atmosphere, it's not the first place I'd recommend if thinking about somewhere to eat but I wouldn't steer people away from it either. Everything came out fast and prices are reasonable, and the comments from other diners at nearby tables were all very positive as was the line up for takeaway roast meats. A couple of the dishes weren't great though and while I liked it here I couldn't see it becoming a favourite place to eat.
Food - 7
Service - 7
Ambience - 5.5
Price - 6.5
8/240 Victoria Street
Richmond VIC 3121
Tel: (03) 9427 8225