$78+ Set Menu @ East Ocean, Alameda
Tonight's dinner with the parents was a visit to East Ocean in Alameda. My first time, however, my sister is a veteran. I really appreciated the wider spacing of the tables and more comfortable chairs compared to busier places in SF or Oakland Chinatown.
We ordered the $78 "wo choy" set menu (English translation on the back cover of the menu) for the five of us with a couple upgrades that added $18 on top of that to the bill. We had -
Soup of the day --- tomato-based with some beef and a dash of curry
Stir-fry of shrimp and cuttlefish with vegetables (nearly all celery) --- tender cuttlefish and delicate shrimp
Chiu chow duck, half ($2 supplement to substitute for steamed yellow hair chicken, available weekends only) - somewhat chewy yet delicious, pretty well-rendered fat for this style
Dungeness crab with ginger and scallions --- a bit on the small side and harder to eat, but very sweet and succulent
Eggplant and pork clay pot --- lip-smackingly tasty and creamy-textured asian eggplants
Baby bok choy with garlic --- undercooked and too tough, not much garlic
Peking spareribs --- delicious and meaty, well-balance sweet and sour notes, good fried crust
Steamed swimming black bass with ginger and scallions ($16 supplement to upgrade from catfish) --- stellar, better than The Kitchen's version and absolutely on point in texture and seasoning
Steamed rice was $3.60 and we paid $8 corkage on the 2005 Villa Wolf Pfalz Pinot Gris I brought from home. We skipped the red bean dessert soup and stuck with the fortune cookies (very fresh!).
Service was very good and the owner stopped by our table a couple times to check on us. Alamedans are lucky to have this gem in their neighborhood.
Thanks for the report -- Susan was talking about getting together a chowdown there, so thanks for the advance scouting.
You hit on two things I've always liked about East Ocean (besides the food): it's comfortable (and more elegant, since they remodelled and updated the decor), and the service is good -- I always get the feeling the owner is right on top of things. I don't know if it's a family-run operation, but it definitely has the feel of people who have that kind of pride in a family business.
re: Ruth Lafler
East Ocean is awfully good for a non-destination HK-style place. Prices were just a tad high, i.e., the $88 Peking duck dinner at The Kitchen for the same number of people is a better value. Yet with the exception of the plate of bok choy, each dish on the set menu was good, and there aren't many places I can say that about. You should've seen the plate the steamed fish was on . . . only a stripped clean skeleton, maybe a couple teaspoons of the juices and a few strands of ginger left behind.
re: Melanie Wong
Now you're just making my mouth water!
I haven't really explored East Ocean for dinner, but for dim sum I've always thought of it was a solid "B" -- comfortably in the tier below places like Koi Palace and HKFL. Add in the service, the parking and the lack of chaos, and you can see why I keep going back!
re: Ruth Lafler
I couldn't agree more. Plus, it's a heck of lot easier to get to compared to driving to Millbrae or Foster City. Sounds like we'll need to visit some evening for dinner. Like the remodeling job they did, really improved the place. Had dim sum maybe 2 weeks ago and it was very good, not one bad choice.
re: Ruth Lafler
Another suggestion for your chowdown menu planning --- another substitution that our server suggested for the set menu was to have sturgeon two ways instead of the steamed catfish and the soup of the day for an upcharge. You might want to try the version here to see how it fares against the bland version at Chef's Wok.
We were there on Sunday for dim sum, before a visit to Hangar One.
We were really impressed with the quality of the food we got - the fried asparagus, the duck and the pork rice noodles were exceptionally good.
Some of the dumplings were slightly thicker-skinned that I prefer, but the fillings were all very tasty and fresh.
Just catching up after two weeks far away...and thanks for this post! I also got one of the set dinners, for a family dinner, on my last visit, may have been this one, and I remember the spareribs and crab as both very good. I definitely want to go back and explore more of the menu with some other hounds!