OPAL Chinese Cuisine at 303 East Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel, California 91776, Telephone: (626) 607-2018. They are open for dinner everyday and offer an afternoon tea service on weekends. Parking is $5.00 for 3 hours with validation, and you have the option to do self-parking or valet parking. Website: https://www.opalchinesecuisine.com/
When the hotel was being built, word got out that one of the restaurants in the hotel would become a higher end, fine dining Sichuanese restaurant. There was much anticipation for this restaurant as we would learn that they were going to bring in a team of chefs from Sichuan. However, the hotel opened this past February while the restaurant was still in limbo. A few months later, word got out that they weren’t able to secure work visas for the chefs. That led to the switch from Sichuanese to modern Cantonese. OPAL opened in July.
OPAL is a beautiful space and wonderfully decorated. However, as beautiful as the chairs are, they are heavy and difficult to move in order to sit down and to get up. They management may want to consider putting glides on the feet of the chairs to rectify this issue.
The menu is not as big as some of the other grand Cantonese restaurants such as NBC Seafood or Sea Harbor Restaurant. But they do offer enough choices so that there will be something for everyone, except for vegans. Take note that their more opulent dishes will require ordering 24 hours in advance (Peking Duck, Braised Whole Abalone, Bird’s Nest Soup).
Their dishes are beautifully plated. Portions sizes are moderate, and the food (to me) was good. With prices being high, one would expect stellar service at this establishment. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The service I was expecting here, I found at Capital Seafood in Beverly Hills. Here, the service was adequate at times to surprisingly deficient (In a near empty dining room on a Saturday night, some of the staff stood around the bar area next to our table but failed to be proactive — didn’t check to see if our hot water pot needed refilling, and didn’t offer to replace our plates with fresh ones when in between courses.
We started off ordering the Blossoming Tea from their Tea Menu. Blossoming tea featured petals from a type of orchid with dried gogiberries. Then we ordered a couple of appetizers (Jellyfish Salad and Salt & Pepper Squid) along with a couple of individual orders of the Buddha Temptation Soup, which included double boiled fish maw, sea cucumbers, shitake mushrooms, conpoy (sun dried scallops), jin chong cao (a type of cordyceps) and black chicken meat, Each order is for one person, but we found that the serving was more than enough for two to share. The soup was comforting, as most chicken broths are. I enjoyed it. The Salt & Pepper Squid was really good, as it was wok tossed with crispy garlic chips, scallions and dried chiles. The main complaint with this dish was that it arrived at our table lukewarm.
Their entree offerings are ones you traditionally find at a Cantonese restaurant, with the exception of the the way the dishes are plated, and the garnishes used — this was their take on presenting these traditional dishes in a more modern and refined presentation. We ordered the Black Pepper Wagyu Beef, half of a Roast Duck, Braised Abalone (about the size of a 50 cent coin), Honey Walnut Prawns, and Spicy Laksa.
The roast duck was big for a half duck. The skin was nice and crispy, but the taste of the duck was very good, but still second to Capital Seafood Beverly Hills. The Honey Walnut Prawns were enjoyable as the prawns were only dusted in flower and not heavily battered. I liked the Laksa as well but found it salty. The Wagyu beef was good, but nothing about it made it stood out over other variations of this dish. I really enjoyed the Braised Abalone dish, which was served with baby bok choy. The abalone was soft and tender, and I savored its flavor. It was the most expensive of the dishes we ordered, but it was easily my most favorite of the evening.