I've read many positive reviews of O-Mei (Highway 7 E, between Leslie and Bayview) on this board, and always dismissed them. My wife (Pat) and I tried it once, quite some time ago (and I'm talking like 7-8 years ago), and we found the decor dark and dingy, and the food uninspired, to say the least. (My wife referred to it as "Canadian Chinese" - S&S everything, chow mein, etc.) However, after reading the reviews here, and also getting a positive recommendation from one of Pat's staff, we gave it a try on Saturday night.
First, we found the decor completely different, and much improved. The room is bright and clean, there were cloth tablecloths as opposed to plastic, and the staff was very attentive. So, plus marks there.
My wife wanted lobster, which we didn't see on the menu, so we asked our waiter, and he described a special to us, "Lobster Four Ways". He took us to the tank, and showed us a five pound monster. After some debate, we decided to order that, as well as few other dishes for our two daughters (10 and 13) who were with us. My youngest wanted Beef with Broccoli (a 10-year old who likes broccoli; who'da thunk?), and some spring rolls, while my eldest wanted to try the Shrimp balls appetizer, plus some spring rolls. I also ordered Hot and Sour soup.
The maitre d' recommended we have the lobster courses first, so as not to sully their taste. We agreed. This was a mistake on our part, as it took over half an hour before the first dish appeared. It was no problem for my wife and I to wait, but our eldest had just been in a soccer tournament where she had played three games in 8 hours, and our youngest hadn't eaten such lunch (it was about 8:30 when we sat down). If we'd known it would take so long, we would have insisted that the children's appetizers come out first.
Eventually, the first dish appeared. These were the (enormous) lobster claws, sliced up very neatly, and served with scallions and glass noodles. The way they were cut made the claw pieces very easy to eat, and the sauce had a nice garlicky taste. Everyone enjoyed it, and it was finished quickly.
The second and third courses were the lobster's tail, again cut up for easy eating, in a sauce of ginger/soy, and the legs fried in spicy salt. The legs were a little more work to get at, but I never order lobster expecting it to be struggle-free. Both dishes were very tasty, and we were working on these when the soup, beef, and shrimp balls arrived.
The Hot and Sour was disappointing - the broth was peppery, but there was no real heat, and nothing sour to it all. I wouldn't order it again. The beef and broccoli was very pretty to look at, and my youngest finished off half the plate. The shrimp balls, according to Nicky, were OK, but she would have liked some type of dipping sauce served alongside. The spring rolls never did arrive - it was a busy Saturday night and I understand these things happen, but again, next time, we'll order the kids' appetizers first.
Finally, they brought out the last lobster dish - a fried rice with the lobster roe and a ton of lightly fried garlic on top. This was wonderfully fragrant, and it was huge plate, so we didn't come close to finishing it (couldn't get all the lobster legs done, either).
However, Pat and Nicky wanted to try the honey banana for dessert. These are pieces of banana, lightly breaded and deep fried, and served with a honey sauce. I was reaching to try a piece when Pat told me to wait. The waiter returned with a bowl of ice water, and preceded to dunk the pieces in it; Pat explained that this crystallized the sauce. I tried one piece and it was delicious; if I wasn't diabetic, I would have had more.
We took home a large bag of leftovers, and left full and satisfied. We were seated near the fish tanks, and there was an enormous king crab that alternately scared and fascinated the kids. Pat inquired about it, and was told they serve a six course crab dinner ($320!). She's considering it for our next big family dinner.
The total damage, with tax, tip, and some soft drinks (no alcohol), was $193. The lobster alone was more than $100, so I'm sure some more conservative choices would result in a less hefty price tag. However, I have to admit my opinion has changed 180 degrees (as did Pat's). We would definitely recommend it to anyone.
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