Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Ocean Seafood Restaurant showcases its culinary skills

Just last night, I was invited by the owner of Ocean Seafood Restaurant to a dinner celebrating the full moon of the birth of their fifth child. I went with very little expectations as restaurant food has become boringly predictable. Every Chinese wedding dinner serves about the same kind of food. As the dinner progressed, I was pleasantly surprised when it dawned on me that the owners were using this occasion to showcase some of their dishes.

Course 1: Glutinous rice with dried shrimps, char siu (fork roasted pork) (black mushroom, lup cheong (Chinese sausage) garnished with parsley. Sorry, I was too busy eating that I forgot to snap a photo of the dish. Everyone was hungry and the plate was cleaned out quickly.

Course 2: Lobster cold dish, fried crab rolls and steamed prawns. It was again an expensive dish. However, the mayonnaise sauce that covered the lobster meat somehow masked the taste of the meat. But then again, many who have acquired the taste of mayonnaise would have loved the preparation. The prawns on the other hand were very fresh and sweet and the crab rolls crispy and fragrant.

Course 3: Shark-fin soup with Chinese radish and Chinese herbs. The shark-fin came in sizeable chunks in individual bowls; it was a house specialty, but the general consensus was that it was unexceptional. But everyone at the table finished their bowl anyway because they knew it was expensive.

Course 4: Steamed ‘Bek Ngoh he’ fish in light sauce. The fish was steamed and bathed in a gravy of light soya sauce, thinly sliced red chilli, spring onions, and ginger. I wasn’t very fond of fish; as long as the fish is not ‘fishy’ it is okay with me.

Course 5: Stuffed sea cucumber. Now this was different. The dish was pleasing to the eye. The sea cucumber flesh was thick and the minced pock and other ingredients stuffed inside was cooked just right as it retained its juiciness. The main item was surrounded by broccoli on one side and cauliflower on the other. Nestled between the sea cucumber and the vegetables were the fish balls and boiled balls of carrot. I couldn’t figure out the sauce; it was reddish. It seems that the visual is as important as the gastronomical experience.

Course 6: Chilled abalone in sweet sour sauce. The abalone slices nestling in a bed of marbled-shaped water melon and ice cubes were…well, expensive. Of course the dish was polished off in no time.

Course 7: Steamed “Song He” fish head, another expensive fish valued for its smooth texture. The fish lovers, and there were many at the table, went for the skin, eye balls, the gills and the cartilage.

Course 8: Steamed Chinese cabbage rolls in cream sauce garnished with boiled grated carrot. The vegetarian fillings were presumably fried before being wrapped in boiled Chinese cabbage. It was an uncommon, delicious vegetable dish.

Course 9: The dessert. Yam paste (Orr Nee) with pumpkin, and gingko nuts and ‘ang ku kueh’ as an addition. The ‘ang ku kueh’ is a ‘cake’ with sweet lotus paste filling. And then there were these little pink round balls covered in desiccated coconut, akin to the malay ‘ondeh-ondeh’. I only went for the Orr Nee, as I have not taken it for a long time since my father’s catering business wound up. The Orr Nee was also cleaned out in no time as it is not normally offered in the restaurant’s menu.

It was an evening of good food, aided by a very capable singer-cum-magician brought from Kuala Lumpur to entertain the guests. The highlight was a hypnotized woman suspended in mid-air.

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