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Sep 23, 2007 10:57 PM

O-Mei in Richmond Hill - Review

I've read many positive reviews of O-Mei (Highway 7 E, between Leslie and Bayview) on this board, and always dismissed them. My wife (Pat) and I tried it once, quite some time ago (and I'm talking like 7-8 years ago), and we found the decor dark and dingy, and the food uninspired, to say the least. (My wife referred to it as "Canadian Chinese" - S&S everything, chow mein, etc.) However, after reading the reviews here, and also getting a positive recommendation from one of Pat's staff, we gave it a try on Saturday night.

First, we found the decor completely different, and much improved. The room is bright and clean, there were cloth tablecloths as opposed to plastic, and the staff was very attentive. So, plus marks there.

My wife wanted lobster, which we didn't see on the menu, so we asked our waiter, and he described a special to us, "Lobster Four Ways". He took us to the tank, and showed us a five pound monster. After some debate, we decided to order that, as well as few other dishes for our two daughters (10 and 13) who were with us. My youngest wanted Beef with Broccoli (a 10-year old who likes broccoli; who'da thunk?), and some spring rolls, while my eldest wanted to try the Shrimp balls appetizer, plus some spring rolls. I also ordered Hot and Sour soup.

The maitre d' recommended we have the lobster courses first, so as not to sully their taste. We agreed. This was a mistake on our part, as it took over half an hour before the first dish appeared. It was no problem for my wife and I to wait, but our eldest had just been in a soccer tournament where she had played three games in 8 hours, and our youngest hadn't eaten such lunch (it was about 8:30 when we sat down). If we'd known it would take so long, we would have insisted that the children's appetizers come out first.

Eventually, the first dish appeared. These were the (enormous) lobster claws, sliced up very neatly, and served with scallions and glass noodles. The way they were cut made the claw pieces very easy to eat, and the sauce had a nice garlicky taste. Everyone enjoyed it, and it was finished quickly.

The second and third courses were the lobster's tail, again cut up for easy eating, in a sauce of ginger/soy, and the legs fried in spicy salt. The legs were a little more work to get at, but I never order lobster expecting it to be struggle-free. Both dishes were very tasty, and we were working on these when the soup, beef, and shrimp balls arrived.

The Hot and Sour was disappointing - the broth was peppery, but there was no real heat, and nothing sour to it all. I wouldn't order it again. The beef and broccoli was very pretty to look at, and my youngest finished off half the plate. The shrimp balls, according to Nicky, were OK, but she would have liked some type of dipping sauce served alongside. The spring rolls never did arrive - it was a busy Saturday night and I understand these things happen, but again, next time, we'll order the kids' appetizers first.

Finally, they brought out the last lobster dish - a fried rice with the lobster roe and a ton of lightly fried garlic on top. This was wonderfully fragrant, and it was huge plate, so we didn't come close to finishing it (couldn't get all the lobster legs done, either).

However, Pat and Nicky wanted to try the honey banana for dessert. These are pieces of banana, lightly breaded and deep fried, and served with a honey sauce. I was reaching to try a piece when Pat told me to wait. The waiter returned with a bowl of ice water, and preceded to dunk the pieces in it; Pat explained that this crystallized the sauce. I tried one piece and it was delicious; if I wasn't diabetic, I would have had more.

We took home a large bag of leftovers, and left full and satisfied. We were seated near the fish tanks, and there was an enormous king crab that alternately scared and fascinated the kids. Pat inquired about it, and was told they serve a six course crab dinner ($320!). She's considering it for our next big family dinner.

The total damage, with tax, tip, and some soft drinks (no alcohol), was $193. The lobster alone was more than $100, so I'm sure some more conservative choices would result in a less hefty price tag. However, I have to admit my opinion has changed 180 degrees (as did Pat's). We would definitely recommend it to anyone.

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  1. Glad you like it. You may want to share that $320 giant crab with a table of at least 7-8 adults ! It is BIG.

    9 Replies
    1. re: skylineR33

      On paper, eating a 6 course Alaskan King Crab dinner might sound pretty fantastic. However, based on my own personal experience, I think it is a waste of the 'fresh' crab meat's delicate, sweet flavour by cooking and crowding it with complex cooking procedures and sauces. I beleive the best way is the simple way - steamed or boiled. I know what some of you CH might be thinking, but, when I was working in the Oil and Gas industry a while back, I had a chance to share a few of these live giant crusteceans with a few of my colleagues on the heli-deck of an offshore platform in Anchorage, Alaska! What we did was to boil a whole oil-barrel of sea water, dunked the crabs in it and ate the creatures, leg by leg, when they were cooked. That must be the tastiest and delicate seafood I have ever eaten. Pure perfection with a cold bottle of beer!

      1. re: Charles Yu

        Sounds good too. How about asking them to steamed it as one of the course ? They usually make it the way you request.

        1. re: Charles Yu

          *sweet*...I need more stories like that!

          1. re: Recyclor

            Another great delicacy, but at 1/100 the cost of the King crab, is the freshly boiled sweet North sea shrimps sold directly from fishermen in Oslo harbour, Norway. Sold in a big paper bag like popcorns, they are the best snacks to eat with a beer. Talk about 'sweet'!! BYW, you can pick up a bag of frozen cooked ones in the food section of your local IKEA furniture store!! Give it a try, its very yummy!!

            1. re: Charles Yu

              Ha! I used to live in Oslo, done one simillair to that!!..I agree, it's great, has inspired me to always visit the pier when I'm travelling to check out what is going on...I'll have to check out the Ikea ones, probally the best thing in the whole stor if they are good!...thanks C Yu!

              1. re: Recyclor

                Wow! Small world!
                Even if you find the IKEA version not as great as the fresh Scandinavian products, I still think the peeled products mixed with diced cooked carrots and mayo atop of a slice of rye bread would make a great open sandwich!
                PS: Are you by chance in the offshore oil and gas business?

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  No, you got me there, my dad was in the military so we just moved around alot...was about 15 years ago when I was in high school...I also found a love for gravlax while there, our Norwegian nieghbours used to make it and have us over for brunch sometimes...

                  1. re: Recyclor

                    Yup! Gravlax was great too. I very often frequent a fishmonger in one of the side street close to the fort. The Norwegian salmons were HUGE! Another great dish I had was an 'Elk' steak grilled with butter and sauteed onions and finish off with a Cognac cream sauce. YUM!!! However, not much of a fan of Reindeer though!

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      I vaguely remember trying reindeer, in my teens I was just beginning to get adventurous with food, I didn't care for it much either at the time, haven't had it since...had Elk fillet at Noce as a special last fall, was amazing...

      2. My family also went there for dinner recently for the first time and enjoyed it a lot. We had one each of a lobster, beef, pork, and tofu dish to get a variety. Everybody enjoyed the lobster, but the beef and pork dish were just alright. The tofu/veggie dish was good, but I think would have tasted better with some seafood in it as well. I think next time we'll order just seafood dishes :) Free dessert at the end is always nice, though we were stuffed by that point.
        Service was good considering how busy they were. One waitress in particular was really really nice. We also spoke with the manager because we're interested in getting a dinner party of 60 sometime later this year and he took time to sit down with us and translate their 10-course menu that was only in chinese.
        Overall, good first impression!

        2 Replies
        1. re: sumashi

          Are you talking about the one with "Budda jumps over wall" set menu ? I tried it and it is pretty good !

          1. re: skylineR33

            Yes, he showed us the "buddha jumps over the wall" menu, which sounded really good!
            There was another set menu that focused on abalone and another cheaper set menu that didn't focus all on seafood, but had some other meat dishes.

        2. any suggestions for take out?