A stretch of Central Avenue in Albany on either side of I-87/The Northway is home to some authentic Asian establishments. There are 4 food markets of note: two branches of Lee's Oriental Market (both on Central Avenue), another large establishment with a well-stocked fresh fish tank called Asian Food Market (on Colvin Avenue) and a smaller market called Spices of India. I previously asked the owner of Lee's for her recommendation for an Asian restaurant. Without hesitation, she said that many in the local Asian community went to Ocean Palace.
Yesterday, my wife and I were visiting the Albany area and stopped in for dim sum brunch at Ocean Palace. What a treat! Rather than service from rolling carts, you select your dim sum from a single menu sheet written in Chinese and English. There are 65 selections that cover all of the bases. We struck gold with 7 of our 9 choices: Steamed Fun Kor with Parsley (a delicate wrapper filled with Shrimp and Cilantro), Fried Sweet Rice with Pork (a crunchy sweet rice roll filled with a minced pork stew), Scallion Dumpling (a simple dumpling filled with scallions), Clams in Black Bean Sauce (about 2 dozen tiny Manila clams loaded with ginger, garlic and scallions), Bean Curd Skin Roll (a perfect combination of taste and texture), Stuffed Pepper (which was filled with a minced shrimp mixture), and Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce (a generous serving, perfectly crisp). Only the Steamed Roast Pork Bun (too ordinary) and the Beef Stew with Turnip (a dish that is made better in a similar style by the Vietnamese and the Cambodians) were less than stellar. This dim sum is as good as if not better than those we used to frequent in Middletown, NJ and East Brunswick, NJ. The check added up to $25 before tip and we ordered way too much food. The service staff was very friendly. Most of the patrons were Asian. Apparently, they serve this dim sum brunch on weekends only from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The regular menu looked enticing, too, filled with many Chinatown style dishes and lots of fresh seafood choices. However, unlike some of the larger, more glamorous establishments serving this type of cuisine, Ocean Palace is less fancy in appearance and is housed on the first floor of a non-descript office building on Central Avenue (It's address is 855 Central Avenue). If it were closer to our house, we would be going there on a near weekly basis. As it is, we plan to make this a regular stop on our trips to the Albany area.