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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

East Ocean, Haymarket, Chinatown

crispy skin chicken
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.

house soup
House soup

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.

steamed Pacific oysters
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.

beef brisket hotpot
Stewed beef brisket in casserole $18.80

egg white seafood
Braised prawns in eggwhite casserole $16.80

rock cod with snow peas
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.

mushrooms with vegetables
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.

fruit platter
House fruit platter

red bean pastries
House red bean pastries

almond cookies
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.

red bean soup
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
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.

sago pearls

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...

wine menu

East Ocean
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
6 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 4/19/2006 11:57:00 pm


  • At 4/20/2006 8:52 am, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    Yum! You've ordered nearly all my favourites.

    I love that you guys think to order the sago pudding 48 hours in advance.

    Such organisational skills.

  • At 4/20/2006 10:04 am, Blogger deborah said…

    the crispy chicken looks delicious. all golden and aaah crispy :)

  • At 4/20/2006 1:39 pm, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    The mushroom dish was abit exy.

    Did they use Oyster mushrooms?

  • At 4/20/2006 2:32 pm, Blogger Julia said…

    How I love East Ocean. Their steamed oysters are sensational, and their sago pudding (usually) is too. Will have to try the soup!

  • At 4/21/2006 2:01 pm, Blogger Genevieve said…

    East Ocean is also the name of one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in Boston! I've never had Sago pudding and am now dying to try it...

  • At 4/21/2006 6:03 pm, Blogger FooDcrazEE said…

    that was a scrumptous meal


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