OMG Food!

Soup's on, folks! I'm Tina M. Courtney, aka PoetKitty -- a Los Angeles based food writer audacious enough to think I can critique all manner of eateries. It's a labor of love, and I'm honored to welcome you. Grab a fork and let's get this party started.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ocean Seafood - Ode to Garlic Crab

Ocean Seafood
750 N. Hill St.
Los Angeles, CA
8.11.06 - Friday, 2:30 PM
Moi + Judy-Pie

Ocean Seafood is an institution amongst my best friend Judy and me - somehow, it came to be a sentimental favorite. No, not somehow; I'll be honest - it's the crab. And nothing but.

This Chinatown haven is a massive, banquet-style Chinese restaurant on Hill Street. The decor is circa 1985, all faded red tones and golds, with tables and chairs that may have never been in fashion, and are still waiting for their day. When you walk up the stairs to take in this second-floor restaurant, you're greeted with massive tanks of water, showcasing all manner of sea creatures; crab, lobster, fish, you name it. It's a little daunting when you consider, oh, I'm eating one of those fellows, but it's a fact of the food chain and it's worth facing.

Judy and I swooped in on a lazy-dazy Friday afternoon and almost had the place to ourselves. You might think we could enjoy some quality service then, but you'd be wrong. Ocean Seafood is known for their luscious crab, but not for service. Or for dim sum. But if you do one thing this well, some things can be massively overlooked.

We waited for a long spell before one of the many legions of waitstaff finally stopped to take our order. We had the crab. Duh. Which kind is always a big hullabaloo with us, but we turned to the old standby - garlic and chili. Mmmmm yay. Let the games begin.


Just drink water. This place has alcohol, but it blows. And trying to get a soda is like getting an admission of guilt from Rumsfeld - don't hold your breath.
The hot tea, on the plus side, is lovely, and they don't mind refilling the pot quite often.

Dim Sum:

Shrimp Noodle
* We arrived just as the dim sum service was ending, but caught a cart in mid-disappearing act. The only dim sum I like at Ocean Seafood is the shrimp noodle - huge flat silky noodles with shrimp tucked inside, and slathered with a soy sauce. I love the texture.


Crab with Chili and Garlic
* Oh. My. God. This. Is. So. Good. World peace good. Clove kisses good. Just lost ten pounds good. They bring out Mr. or Ms. Crab, alive and kicking, before the cooking begins for approval - I always hate this part but force myself to acknowledge that this is an animal, giving his/her life for me. At least I'm appreciative.
The crustacean is baked with ample garlicky sauce, and served in the shell. It can be an effort getting the sweet meat out of each piece, but I love the interactive nature of this dish. Jud and I always make a mess and have a blast.


Steamed Rice
* I don't know how they manage it, but they have some of the worst steamed rice in the world. Always dry and nasty.

Satueed Mustard Greens with Garlic
* If you're gonna have garlic, dammit, have garlic. This is a fav veggie dish - nice crunch to the greens, and generous you-know-what. Goes super-well with the crabby goodness.

The damage for one dim sum, one 2 1/2 pound crab, and two sides $70, including tax and tip.


Ambiance - C
Service - C-
Food (Taste) - B+
Food (Presentation) - C+
Wine/Drinks - D
Value - C+
Vibe/Energy/Scene - C-
Overall Experience - C+

Final word - It's got a place in our hearts, we can't help it. So many happy crabby memories. And there will be more.


  • At Thu Aug 17, 04:08:00 PM, Blogger Jess Winfield said…

    Ocean Seafood's my favorite in Chinatown. I think their dim sum, on a good day, is as good as Empress Pavilion.

    I too pine for the crab, though I always get the X.O. sauce. Next time I'll try chili/garlic. They also do a great Peking duck. (Got into an e-mail spat with Jonathan Gold about that; he insisted it was like ordering spaghetti in a French restaurant. More duck for me, I say.)

    And I totally agree about the waitstaff... but then, as a white dude, I rarely get exemplary service in Chinese eateries.


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