Monday, October 12, 2009

Dish on Dining: East Ocean Seafood Restaurant

A Fine Spot for Celebrations
1713 Webster St., Alameda
PH: 510.865.3381
Dim sum, lunch and dinner daily
Reservations, major credit cards accepted

When my Mom was in town, it was also around the time of her birthday so she had a birthday celebration with her relatives in the Bay Area. I had the task of finding an appropriate place, so for a central location for all the relatives, I zeroed in on East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Alameda.

I haven’t been to this Hong Kong-style Chinese restaurant, but I’ve heard good things about their dim sum. And it seemed like everyone having a party these days go to East Ocean. In fact, when we went on a Saturday night, there were a couple of birthday parties on our side of the restaurant and a wedding on the other half.

The restaurant is conveniently located on Webster Street a few minutes after you come out of the Webster/Broadway tunnel from Oakland. The spacious dining room is set up for large family dinners, surrounded by decorative paintings and some aquariums filled with fresh seafood.

When I arrived before my Mom, I asked the waiter about special birthday buns served at Chinese dinners. (They’re shaped like peaches, which are a symbol of longevity.) He told me there wouldn’t be a problem getting them at the end of dinner, and he also asked if we wanted the last winter melon soup, and I said yes. It’s an entire winter melon served at the table, and often requires an advanced order.

When my Mom arrived, she selected the rest of the menu for her birthday dinner, which started off with this amazing order of fresh prawns, simply boiled and served with a chili-soy dipping sauce. The prawns were so fresh that a few of them still had the roe attached. These prawns, which just a few seconds were freely crawling all around the tank, were served whole with the head still on (you’re supposed to suck on it, which I just tried once) and arranged symmetrically on the plate.

Then came the winter melon soup, which like I said was served inside the winter melon. In fancier places in Hong Kong, they’d actually carve a design on the exterior, but ours was just wrapped in plastic wrap. Still, it was overflowing with ingredients. The soup is a clear broth, buoyed by the mild winter melon and accentuated with a variety of Chinese herbs and ingredients like ham and shiitake mushrooms. When served, the waiter scraps the actually winter melon flesh from the side. When cooked the flesh is clear and tender. It’s been awhile since I’ve had this soup (yeah, how often do you order an entire winter melon, they’re huge!) so it was nice to start off with this soup.

Next up was the East Ocean Cold BBQ appetizer platter, which comes with an assortment of items, including Chinese BBQ char siu, soy sauce chicken, pickled pig’s feet (two version) and crunchy jelly fish. Everything on the platter was made with traditional tastes, but with fresh ingredients. (My favorite parts of this appetizer platter is the jelly fish, sliced thin and dressed in a vinaigrette and the thinly sliced pickled pig’s feat.)

The rest of our dinner included a minced squab and vegetables dish served on lettuce bowls. the entire dish was tasty and refreshing with the lettuce.

Then a plate of fried tofu stuffed with shrimp. This is a common dish in Chinese households, one that my Mom often makes at home so it was probably a comfort dish for my Mom to order it at her birthday banquet. The fried tofu creates a brown exterior for the tofu’s silken insides, then covered with an oyster sauce.

This is the steamed yellow feather chicken with a ginger-green onion dipping sauce. This is also a very simple chicken dish with clean flavors, but one that reminds my Mom of the dishes she had growing up in Hong Kong. I found the dish a bit difficult to eat because the skin didn’t easily come off the meat, which is really what I’m focused on.

The highlight of the dinner is lobster egg noodles. For Chinese birthdays, it’s important to eat noodles because they symbolize long life like the length of the noodles. Not everyone has to order lobster noodles, but my Mom wanted something special. The noodles did look impressive with the lobster pieces, but I have to say I felt the noodles were a bit overcook.

Despite the last two dishes, all the other dishes were well done. The dinner ended with the peach buns I inquired about at the start of dinner. Our waiter was especially helpful with my family, so my Mom enjoyed the attention, the service, and the food.

I can’t say what East Ocean is like for dim sum, but it’s a fine option on the East Bay if you’re planning a traditional Chinese banquet and you want tasty food served in a grand way.

Single guy rating: 3.5 stars (Tastes that are spot on)

Explanation of the single guy's rating system:

1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner

East Ocean Seafood on Urbanspoon

Related reviews:
Hong Kong Lounge: “A Banquet for Family and Friends”
Great China: “Feasting with Family in Berkeley”
Bund Shanghai: “Hearty Northern Chinese Cuisine Done Right”


Palidor said...

What an amazing birthday dinner for your mom! Did they give you a dipping bowl for cleaning your fingers after the prawns? I love boiled prawns, but eating them makes your fingers stinky.

Nate-n-Annie said...

I wasn't terribly thrilled with East Ocean's dim sum offerings when we went there a couple of years back. But maybe you've got to go when it's really busy to get the best stuff coming out of the kitchen.

Single Guy Ben said...

Palidor, they provided wet napkins for us which worked fine. They were so meaty after you got through shelling them.

Nate/Annie, you're probably right. Things are always better at its peak, but also the most crowded too I bet.

Carolyn Jung said...

The peach buns with the candle was a very nice touch. What a thoughtful request to make for your Mom's special birthday. She raised you right! ;)

foodhoe said...

I've been for dimsum a couple of times and thought it was good, excellent when you get stuff piping hot from the kitchens! Dinner looks worth trying and how sweet of you to arrange for those cute peachy things for your mom...

Cookie said...

I haven't been to Alameda since I was a kid and didn't know they had yummy food there! I only remember that ugly strip mall. I'll have to make a trip out there soon!