After the last time I had dim sum at East Ocean (on Webster St. in Alameda), I made a promise to go back for dinner, and tonight was the first of what will be many trips back.
The restaurant bills itself as "Chinese cuisine, seafood, dim sum in Hong Kong style". I asked my waitress, and she assured me it "has a different owner" from the restaurant of the same name in Emeryville. In fact, an older man in a suit who I assumed was the owner was closely supervising the action in the dining room, and came by my table to make sure everything was all right. Perhaps his close supervision accounts for the fact I had the best service I've ever had in a Chinese restaurant (banquets aside). My waitress (who appeared to be the senior waitress) was perfectly willing to discuss the ins and outs of the menu with me and make suggestions, and checked back several times (including deciding I needed a new plate, grabbing a clean one from a passing busboy, sliding the uneaten food onto the new plate and then passing the other plate back to the busboy in less time than it takes to read this). I was checking out the food on other tables, and when any of the staff saw me looking around, they stopped and asked if I needed anything.
I was alone, so I was only able to order a couple of dishes: the prawns with salt and hot pepper (the waitress warned me it came with heads and shells) and the beef short ribs with black pepper (I just spent three days sharing meals with my vegetarian sister, and was craving meat). Both were excellent, and the portions were generous.
Observing the other tables, most had at least one clay pot dish -- the eggplant with pork and garlic clay pot I saw on the way out almost tempted me order some to go.
In short, despite the modest storefront exterior and unlikely location, this is definitely not your typical suburban neighborhood restaurant.
I do have one question: Every time I've been there, I've noticed that the big round tables are pre-set with bottled drinks: a bottle of sparkling apple cider and a two-liter bottle of 7-Up. Is this a Hong Kong thing, or merely an idiosycrasy of this restaurant?
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