At the advice of a coupla' hounds on the board, bf and I went to Ocean Star on Sunday. We arrived at 10:45, and while there were some people waiting by the hostess stand, we were seated right away (the good old 2-top advantage).
I have been before, but it's been a couple of years now, I think. And I am no stranger to dim sum, having been brought up on it on weekends back home in Calgary, Canada, which has a surprisingly large Chinese population.
We weren't seated very near the kitchen, and as a result there were a couple or lulls in the cart traffic. But we started with har gow (shrimp dumplings) and chicket feet (black bean). I thought the shrimp was plump, perhaps a bit too firm... had a good "bite" to it. Flavor was fine, not too fishy, and the wrapper was thin enough but held together. The chicken feet were good, I don't usually have a problem with this dish anywhere - I imagine it's kind of hard to mess up a dish that's all skin...
Then we had a bunch of dishes all at once - spareribs in black bean sauce (always tasty, but we were disconcerted by the pool of oil they were sitting in), shu mai (fine, nothing special. chunks of chinese mushroom), shrimp rice rolls (not so good, the shrimp here, in contrast to that of the har gow, I thought was mushy and small. the wrapper was just ok and that sweet soya sauce I love so much was watery). squid in curry sauce (not good at all. I think they used that semi-dried squid, as the pieces were quite chewy, and not in the good crisp-tender way that squid should be). Chive dumplings - I don't remember much about these, so they can't have been much good, which is too bad because when they're done well...mmm. I think I thought the wrapper was too thick.
Let's see, I think that was it. Oh ya, and do fu fa (Sweet tofu dessert) was pretty good - we waited about 10 mins for a cart to come by (fatal dim sum flaw, waiting till you're actually ready to have dessert to order dessert) and finally ended up asking a manager-type, who quickly obliged. This was fine, the tofu was more solid than I'm used to - not hard solid but it didn't break apart into teeny pieces when touched with a spoon. The syrup was fine, had a nice gingery tone to it.
The bill came to about $24, I think, and I can't help but think I'm missing something. It's just not coming to me.
All in all, it was ok. I wouldn't say I was at all blown away by anything in particular. I think next time I will definitely try another place, progbably Empress Pavilion downtown. (I wanted to do some grocery shopping afterward, and am more familiar with MP than downtown, so...). I didn't think the variety was all that wide although, as you can see, we really stuck to the traditional dishes anyway. So final word... OK. I'll go elsewhere next time (nothing wrong with that, I'll take one for the team if that means sampling various dim sum fare!
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