Gold Garden Seafood Restaurant
3016 SE 82nd Ave, 777-3399

At G.G.S.R, the crabs, lobster, rockfish, and jumbo (I'm talking huge) shrimp are housed in a tank near the kitchen where their fate awaits them. Sold either by the pound or at a fixed price, you can discuss with the waitstaff how you would like them prepared. I sampled a Dungeness crab in Thailand sauce, which was out of this world, but so difficult to eat that I sensed the whole restaurant laughing at me.

Gold Garden's cooking ranges from dependable to sublime. I've ordered many disparate menu items and all of them, with the exception of the Ma Po Tofu (which I'll get to later), were excellent. Among my favorites have been a Chicken, Salt Fish, and Eggplant dish served in a clay pot. The salted fish was in fact not salty at all, but lent a defining sweet/briny flavor, which was then soaked up by the soft eggplant slices. It was a sweet bargain at $7.50. I've also guiltily consumed an entire plate of the Salt and Pepper Squid and Shrimp. It was a sensual assault on my taste buds, liberally sprinkled with jalapenos, sautéed garlic, and pepper flakes.

Many local Chinese eateries serve only slop for their lunch specials, charging higher prices for the good stuff. But here you'll find a scaled-down menu of affordable noodle dishes, rice porridges, and "over rice" specialties that will satisfy most serious Chinese food urges. PL

Flying Pie Pizzeria
7804 SE Stark, 254-2016

While the parlor at Flying Pie seems authentic Chicago-style, the Chicago-style pizza is not authentic, but still good. I ordered the Windy City variety, because I figured the deep dish pizza is difficult to get right would be the best thermometer of Flying Pie's skills. The crust ended up being a medium thickness, but quite tasty and crispy, with the slight butteriness of a handmade crust. The sauce is tangy and well portioned, so you won't get a big glop of marinara on your shirt. Hooray.

Topping ingredients are exceedingly fresh; ripe tomatoes, fresh chopped garlic, broccoli, zucchini, and freshly caught anchovies and smoked oysters (no, just kidding, they're canned). The ingredients make the unique tossed pizza (sadly, the dough-tossing theatrics are missing) all the better, and they're piled on, so don't go too crazy on the ordering. Flying Pie also boasts a thin Upstate New York-style crust, an extra-thin New York City-style crust, and a deep-dish Focaccia crust, which I never like (I wish greasy focaccia bread had never been invented), but is no doubt well crafted, if that's your bag. KS