Sunday, October 26, 2008

Coconut Bay Bar and Grill in Rowland Heights

J had a birthday recently, and to celebrate, I was gonna drag my family to Happy Harbor in Rowland Heights. When we got there, we noticed there was a wedding party there, and hubby was told that the whole place was booked for the wedding. So we improvised and headed across the street to Coconut Bay Bar and Grill.

It took a while for our whole party of 13.5 to arrive but the waiter was quite patient with us. I'll get back to that .5 in a bit. The waiter took our order electronically, and as the food took a while to arrive, we had time to check out the football games projected on the walls or broadcast on the screens hanging everywhere in the restaurant and enjoy yelling at each other across the table to get our conversation across.

We ordered quite a few dishes, most of which birthday boy himself couldn't possibly eat. Not until I desensitize his little tongue to spice. My favorite of the night was the Homok Talay. This is a hodge podge of seafood (shrimp, crab legs, mussels, clams, fish, and mussels) mixed with chili and coconut milk. Not pretty to look at, but it had a nice kick and was very tasty.

The Three Flavors Sand Bass was fried nicely and was quite crisp on the outside. The sauces made it sweet and tasty, but the meat was a little dry.

The Tom Yum Koong was my cousin's favorite. It was very spicy, which I like, but it was also on the salty side (not a downside for me at all). Believe it or not, the first time I came here with friends, it was even saltier and spicier, so much so that in our party of four, I had to eat the whole pot by myself because no one else could take the spice. Some people might be turned off by the saltiness. One pot was not enough for our party, so we ordered a second pot, and cousin noted that this one had more soup and less food than the previous pot did.

The beef Nam Tok was ok for me. This is a dish of beef covered with roasted rice powder and mixed with herbs, onion, and lime juice. Could have had more flavor.

Hubby ordered the Paradise Duck. This was roasted duck mixed in a red curry/coconut sauce. It was good and had a lot of flavor, but I really don't like duck too much because of the tougher texture. Also, I was turned off by the measly serving of this dish.

The Lemon Fertile Calamari is seasoned with lime and is served over mung bean noodles. The calamari, although fresh, definitely needed more lime or spice or something because it was basically tasteless, and the noodles were sparse. The presentation was great though- it was served in a fish shaped metal dish over a flame.

Update on 11/2/08 See comments below regarding the Lemon Fertile Calamari. My cousin failed to tell me that there was a sauce that went with this, so to be fair, I will have to re-review this dish in the future.

I didn't get to taste the Chow Mein, and neither did hubby, but the kids liked it. This was eaten before I got to take a photo of it.

The kids also liked the Chicken Macaroni, which I absolutely did not like. This was a sweet dish of penne pasta (not macaroni) mixed with tomatoes, shrimp, and chicken.

The BBQ Chicken Fried Rice was good. The rice was average, but the chicken was nicely done inside and out.

The Lagoon Noodles is a rice noodle dish with shrimp, crab claws, and shitake mushrooms, but I didn't get to taste it. Hubby said it was good, but I take his judgement with a grain of salt because he really has a different sense of taste than I do. Afterall, he liked the Chicken Macaroni.

The Clam Chili Paste was my other favorite. It was spicy, tasty and fragrant with basil.

A lot of young groups frequent this restaurant, but so do a lot of families. There is a sign posted for free karaoke on Friday nights, and a happy hour for cheap drinks. Also advertised is a pool table room, which I didn't see. For me, I'm just happy getting the free refills on the Thai iced tea and Thai iced coffee.

Some rumors have been flying around about the relationship between Coconut Bay and Banana Bay, another Thai restaurant further west. All that is important to me is that the food at Coconut Bay is better than that of the other one. Now back to the .5 bit. This would be my 5 month old, R. As my family was getting up to leave, the patient young man who had taken our orders and had served us many times over came over to say bye. At that moment, R used his amazing cheek magnets to lure him over, and it worked because the waiter started asking about him and commenting on how cute and big he was and of course had to pinch them cheeks. I got into a brief conversation with him and found out that he was the brother of the owner here, and I asked him about Banana Bay. All he said was that they used to own Banana Bay but not anymore, and I didn't dare to delve any further.

I'm glad we came back to Coconut Bay because my first visit here gave me a bad impression. I cannot remember what we ordered at that visit besides the Tom Yum Koong, but whatever they were were not the right dishes to order, and I guess being a measly party of four placed us in a booth and at the mercy of the younger waitstaff that was not as adept as that of the night we went with the larger party. I also know there are authentic Thai behind the scenes here because when hubby, who himself is part Thai, called on the phone to order for catering last week (which we ended cancelling), he could hear the conversation on the other end of the phone was in Thai. I do recommend Coconut Bay because of the above average and authentic Thai food. It's great for large groups and late night eaters, but be prepared for loud, long waits for food to arrive, some dishes being pricey and smaller in portion, and iffy service if you're a smaller party during busy hours. I think for me, heading to Krua Thai in West Covina is a better deal as their food tastes better to me, and their portions are larger with prices being cheaper. But it is further for us to drive there.

Coconut Bay Bar and Grill is located at 18922 Gale Ave., Rowland Heights, CA (626) 913-9933


Unknown said...

I've been to here before! It is very cool that they put the orders on computers- very high tech!

I went here when it was pretty new and I too was a little disappointed. The pad thai used to have a big pile of bean sprouts and very little noodles!

I actually was in this plaza yesterday eating at Maxim cafe! Now I think I should try this place soon again.

Jen Jen said...

The reason The Lemon Fertile Calamari is seasoned with lime was tasteless because right behind the pot is a little bowl of fish sauce and chili that you didn't see. :). It did taste better with the added sauce. Sorry, it was quite hectic with food being pass around that I forgot to hand the sauce to you ;0.
Overall, I think the place was alright, most of the food their lack their flavor. The reason I like the Tom yum because it has more flavor. The fish was too small with very little fish for it price. I didn't really get to try all the food.

wsl98787, do you know if the change the owner of maxim? That place was my favorite lunch place 4-5 yrs back. But when we went back a few months ago. The food really suck. It didn't taste the same anymore.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Try Top Thai in San Dimas, that's closer than West Covina and I like it. Reasonable prices, good food.

I used to pass them by because Coconut Bay or was it Banana Bay had crowds and the other had awful parking. Tried Baimon instead a long time ago and it was the worst pad Thai I'd ever eaten. And their curry had frozen mixed vegetables.

Food For Tots said...

I like spicy food esp Tom Yam Koong a lot but have not been eating this dish for quite a long time as I couldn't find the right eating partner. Haiiiii...!:(

shavedicesundays said...

wsl98787: hey was that you in the parking lot when I ran out to feed R? J/K. I usually don't order pad thai since I don't like it much, but I agree the portions on their dishes are small.

jen jen: so you hid the sauce from me? No wonder, maybe I'll order it next time to try with the sauce, but maybe not because it was too pricey for the serving size.

WC, I tried Top Thai once since hubby use to work out there and ate there often, and it was pretty good, but I need to go back and try some of my favorite stuff, not hubby's. I can't believe a restaurant would use frozen veggies in their dishes. That's just not right!

food for tots: i TOTALLY understand your situation. I'll probably post my version of Tom Yum one of these days, and then you can leave out the spice and whoever wants spice can put it into their individual bowls (that's how we do it in our family).

Unknown said...

I was there around 5PM on Sunday. Pretty sleepy at that time! I don't know if I saw you though.

jen jen:

Maxim Cafe was okay. Not the highest quality but it didn't taste bad though.