Seven Seas Restaurant

You can pluck your dinner from the tanks at this Chinese seafood house.

June 2006 Cheap Eats

At first glance, this hidden-away Rockville dining room, with its dove-gray booths and crimson walls, feels plush and unexciting. There’s a sushi bar offering California rolls and a Westernized menu of candy-coated chicken dishes. Then out comes a fish in a plastic bucket. “Look okay?” the server asks.

Some diners might blanch at meeting their meal face to face, but the rewards are great. Whole fish—grouper, tilapia, or black bass, depending on the season—are best steamed and covered with ginger and scallions. When they’re available, consider a shareable pile of sweet, meaty Dungeness-crab legs with vinegar and salt for dipping. Or a whole lobster chopped and sautéed with hot sauce. Manila clams make delicious appearances in a restorative ginger soup or with black-bean sauce.

Most of these are market price, and all are enough for two. The only accessory needed is a dish of pea-shoot leaves sautéed with garlic.

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