Place: Ocean Seafood Restaurant - Chinatown
Friday, 8/19/05 - 9:30 PM
Myself + 2 guests (Judy and August, the Very Best Friends)
Ambiance - B-
Service - C
Food (Taste) - B
Food (Presentation) - C+
Wine/Drinks - C-
Price - C+
Overall Experience - C+
I have been to Ocean Seafood many times in the past - the draw here is most definitely the CRAB. . .
I do like the dramatic entry, where you're face to face with huge, stacked aquariums full of fishy critters. The whole place smells sparkly fresh, and although it clearly hasn't seen a facelift for a decade or two, it's elegant enough to make one feel comfy.
The service is always a bit luke-warm - they swarm on you from the get-go to take orders and the like, but trying to get a server's attention past the ordering stage is a losing battle. Drink refills? Surely you jest. Getting the check is always a fun challenge as well. But again, it's all about the CRAB.
Although we opted not to have alcohol this time around, I know they have a limited wine/beer list at steep prices. Sodas here tend to be tastless and flat too - enjoy the house tea, and leave it at that.
We started with hot and sour pork soup - the flavor and texture was divine, but the pork pieces were hit or miss - some were velvety and yummy, some tough and fatty. Love the hot/sour goodness, however, so it still gets high marks.
We ordered two dishes to share amongst the three of us:
1) Satueed Chili Pepper Shrimp - love this dish, as the shrimp are very fresh (not the best I've had, but high up on the ladder for sure), and the sauce has chunks of bell pepper and chili flakes - really, really tasty.
2) Chili and Garlic Crab - their speciality. They bring out the live crab for inspection before he's sent to the kitchen for preparation - my companions hate this process, but I think it's a fantastic formality, and adds to the experience. The crab is served in it's entirity - shells are cracked to faciliate meat extraction, and the whole thing is slathered in spicy, garlicky goodness. For those who like such things, the innards of Mr. Crab are served below the main shell - for those that don't, this is not mixed in with the other legs and claws, so you can completely avoid them if you choose - a very nice system. This is one of my favorite all time dishes.
Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce - it's not on their menu, but since it's such a staple, it's a must-have. This time around, it was quite a disappointment, however - they didn't drain the boiled greens enough before tossing them on the plate, so the water + sauce = a runny, tastless mess. Bummer, as this is usually so fresh and delicious.
I didn't pick up this tab, but I believe with tax and tip this was about $80.
Ocean Seafood is a place you must enter with realistic expectations - if you prance up the stairs with only the gleam of a tasty crabby dish on you wish list, you'll walk out with a smile.