For several years now, on our way back from New York or Newark,we have been intrigued by a restaurant called 1-9 Seafood Restaurant. It’s in Avenel N.J at the junction of Routes 1 and 9; hence the name. It is a drab looking building , painted an unappetizing green, and very often the parking lot is so deserted that we’re sure the restaurant is out of business. Other times the parking lot is packed and the restaurant appears to be thriving. Recently. the Star Ledger rated it *** ( out of 4) which means very good and we decided to give it a try.
We went there yesterday and we were not disappointed. It’s a Hong Kong style Chinese place that seats 200 and is very brightly lit.Almost all the other patrons were Chinese ( a very good portent) and the menu was extensive. It was so huge a list of dishes and specials that even after 10 minutes we could not make up our minds. Finally, we decided to order from the specials by pointing to the colored photos of the dishes ( there were no names next to them ). As we ordered, we checked with the waiter to make sure we were ordered a variety of meats and fish, and not all fish or all chicken. The waiter must have learnt his English on the job because it was incomprehensible. When we asked what one of the dishes was, he said ” f#*rk ” or something like that. ” Pork ? ” we enquired. He nodded yes. So we went with it, having already selected two fish and one chicken dishes. The food arrived and it was delicious ; lightly sauced , crisp and perfectly cooked. However, the “pork” dish was puzzling because every little piece had tiny bones in it. So we called the waiter over for a clarification and it turned out to be frog, not pork ! No complaints, because it was very tasty, but a bit of a surprise.
Reminded me of the time we were at just such a place in Xian, China and they handed us a huge menu with at least 200 items. We were given a special edition menu with the name of the dish listed in English next to it’s picture. Then three or four giggling girls stood behind us, one with a pencil poised ready to take our order. This would happen to us again and again at practically every restaurant we went to; they just didn’t seem to understand that we might need some time to make up our minds.No matter how we tried to get them to back off and give us a little time, they persisted in standing there ! It was a lot of pressure,I tell you, a lot of pressure. Anyway, we ordered four dishes by reading the names and pointing to the pictures of the dishes.. one beef, one pork, one chicken and one fish. The food was superlative but the fish dish definitely was not fish. We called the waitress over but she couldn’t understand what we were asking. So they called over the English ‘expert’ and asked her what the dish was and she said ‘ frog’ . ” But,” we said, ” we ordered fish, like it says here on the menu. See, f-i-s-h.” And she said ” No, that says frog !” Sometimes you just can’t win.
Anyway, I highly recommend the 1-9 Seafood Restaurant. If you are in the area , give it a try. Despite the name, it also has beef, chicken and pork dishes on the menu. Also frog. Make sure you order the dish by name because if you order by pointing you may get something else than you intended.
1-9 Seafood restaurant, 1021 Route 1-9 South, Avenel. ( 732) 602-8863. BYOW. Major Credit cards.