With his drink- and food-induced gout, King Henry VIII was a master of feasting. Sure, we overeat in the 21st century, but do we feast? Feasting involves multiple courses, a big table, and some grandiosity. The so-called "Big" Mac achieves none of this. Luckily, at Arco Seafood Restaurant at 9896 Bellaire in Chinatown, you too can eat lobster as Henry VIII did - as only one small portion of your meal.
Dinner one night at Arco began with Peking duck, served as it usually is with white, steamy buns, shredded green onions and plum sauce. The soup made from the rest of the duck was exceptional, the best in recent memory, with its peppery and profound duck flavor. Pork ribs were the next to arrive; they were sweet and very tender, although they could have had a crispier exterior. For the vitamins we ordered gai choy, a Chinese vegetable similar to broccoli rabe, covered in a sauce made in part from fermented beans.
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One of the highlights of the evening was the eggplant. It was served almost exactly like it often is at dim sum, sandwiching a piece of fried shrimp and covered in sauce. After eating bad eggplant cooked mostly by my own hand, well-prepared eggplant is a revelation, incredibly soft and flavorful. The final course was the lobster, which was stir-fried in chives and garlic. Because it's served cracked, even the most remedial chopstick user can get at the juicy, exposed nuggets of meat.
We were warned that Arco is one of the more expensive restaurants in Chinatown, and that may be true, but we still managed to feed eight people for $130.