Crispy skin chicken $16.80
Ever since the old Marigold closed down (about five years ago now, and still fondly remembered) most of our family special occasion dinners in town tend to take place at East Ocean in Sydney's Chinatown. There's a certain affection in having an automatic standby venue for family dinners. No thought is required, just: "I'll go make a booking."
Familiarity breeds contempt, goes the maxim, and although much time is often spent scanning the menu for something new or exciting, we always end up ordering the same old family favourites.
We start with a complimentary serving of house soup. Ask your server for it as soon as you sit down. The soup is tasty but somewhat sweet, and some diligent "fishing" in the soup tureen will often reveal tasty pork bones and bits of veg.
Large Pacific oysters steamed with ginger and shallots $5.80 each
(Live from tank)
Our appetites whetted, we officially start proceedings with large Pacific oysters, steamed until just cooked and doused in a tasty pool of soy and ginger. The juices are fantastic, briney and sweet and covered in tendrils of shaved green onions. I am always tempted to pour the residual sauce into a bowl for drizzling onto my steamed rice later on in the meal.
I am wholeheartedly a fan of Sydney rock oysters raw, but a good steamed Pacific Asian-style ranks pretty highly as well.
Stewed beef brisket in casserole $18.80
Braised prawns in eggwhite casserole $16.80
Rock cod with snow peas $22.80
The rest of our dishes jostle for position on the rapidly overcrowded lazy susan. The stewed beef brisket is the only disaster, tough and undercooked with tendons that cannot be sawed through even with a knife.
The rock cod is fairly tasty, the egg white casserole could do with a little more egg. Easily the most popular dish tonight are the Chinese mushrooms, which are meaty but tendy and more-ish.
Braised vegetables with Chinese mushrooms $22.80
Dessert turns out to be a five course degustation. In addition to the mandatory fruit platter (Chinese restaurants always know how to pick the sweetest oranges don't they?), we also receive two kinds of Chinese petit four: sweet red bean pastries and almond cookies as well.
House fruit platter
House red bean pastries
House almond cookies
The red bean pastries are especially good: flaky, delicate and lardy just as all good Chinese pastries should be. Soft and sweet, they taste as if they'd just come out of the oven. They're so good in fact I declare they must be outsourced to pastry makers, but our waitress assures us quite emphatically that they're all made on the premises in the East Ocean kitchens.
House sweet red bean soup
We continue with a red bean soup which is as sweet as I last remembered. I have many memories of abandoned bowls of red bean soup as a child, but like many things, it seems to be one of those dishes that increases in value the older you get.
Sago pudding $16.80
(Must be pre-ordered 48 hours in advance)
Another family tradition is the ordering of a sago pudding, a request which must be made at least 48 hours in advance. A good sago pudding is hard to find. The best are eggy, sweet and coconutty, and baked in the oven until the skin of the custard caramelises.
The sago pearls, which have been cooked in boiling water, drained then baked in a custard mixture for two hours, should be fat, shiny and slippery. Alas this one comes up short tonight. The custard is pale and in need of egg yolks, and the taste and feel of cornflour is a little too evident.
But like an old family member, we tend to forgive any hiccups. We know it too well to not come again, although we probably won't be indulging in the French Premium Red Wine selection anytime soon...
Entry either from
421-429 Sussex St or
86-88 Dixon St, Haymarket, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9212 4198
Related GrabYourFork posts:
East Ocean dinner, Feburary 2005
East Ocean yum cha, August 2005
East Ocean yum cha, October 2004
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4/19/2006 11:57:00 pm