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REVIEW w/ pics: Dim Sum at Ocean Star

pleasurepalate Sep 29, 2007 09:29 PM

In May, Ocean Star was the fifth place I visited as a part of my 12 month odyssey checking out a different Dim Sum restaurant a month all over LA County. Previous visits were to Triumphal Palace, Capital Seafood, Sea Harbour and Mission 261.

At Ocean Star, it's all about the carts and there were quite a few bustling around the tables on the morning we were there. Unfortunately, even with all the carts, there wasn't much variety in their dim sum offerings. In fact, I can safely say that my dim sum at Ocean Star was one of the most boring dining experiences I've ever had.

Of course, there are certain "staples" you expect to see and order, like shrimp har gow, shu mai and flat rice noodles, but there's also the expectation or hope that you'll get to try items that you have never sampled before, especially in a group setting, when it's easier to be more adventurous. Don't get me wrong. Nothing tasted bad, but when all you get is plate after plate of items that look similar in color and shape and certainly didn't impress taste-wise, that's pretty disappointing. Considering that we had 15 dishes, saying that almost nothing stood out is kind of sad.

I guess if I had to point out some positives, I'd say that the pork and shrimp shau mai wasn't bad. I remember biting into it and tasting a bit of the pork juices which gave the shau mai a nice meaty flavor. There was also the noodle wrapped crullers and I remember liking its chewy texture. I also liked the seafood dumpling, although please don't ask me what the filling is because I can't recollect it.

Other than that, both versions (steamed and fried) of the BBQ pork buns didn't have a lot of filling and seemed dry. The soup in the xia long baos was MIA. One food item had a "cute" factor since it was shaped like a chick, but cuteness wasn't enough because people didn't even finish it after they took a bite of it. Dessert choices were limited and two of the ones we ordered had the same filling, so no originality there, that's for sure. Whatever else I didn't mention was just okay.

Even as we were leaving and I saw that dim sum carts were now including dishes that weren't available earlier in the morning, there was still nothing that wowed me. Everything still looked all the same to me. Would I go back to Ocean Star? Probably not. There are just way too many better dim sum restaurants out there to choose from.

To see pics, go to:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/la_addict/sets/72157601980813558/

Ocean Star Seafood Restaurant
145 N Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 308-2128

Thanks,
Abby
http://pleasurepalate.blogspot.com/

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  1. c
    cfylong Sep 30, 2007 01:43 AM

    Thanks for the review. I haven't been here in years and was planning a visit after someone told me he really liked it. We'll have to see for ourselves!

    1. v
      Velvet Elvis Sep 30, 2007 07:29 AM

      What time did you go? I am certainly no dim sum expert, but I have been told that some places don't bring out the better, more creative dishes until later in the morning. I haven't heard this about Ocean Star in particular, but it is a possibility.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Velvet Elvis
        pleasurepalate Sep 30, 2007 03:26 PM

        We were there around 9:30 am, but even after leaving around 11:00, I honestly didn't see anything interesting coming out from the kitchen. Maybe, it's better to go even later?

        1. re: pleasurepalate
          b
          bulavinaka Sep 30, 2007 03:37 PM

          I dunno... I've always felt similarly to your experience. Ocean Star is a solid starting place for dim sum - most other towns would view Ocean Star in awe. How could one not be amazed at its grandeur - a dim sum palace of sorts. But after having experienced it a few times, it becomes time to expand one's horizons. I think the Sea Harbours and Elites are a natural progression of dim sum's evolutionary process in the socioeconomic trends in the San Gabriel Valley.

          1. re: bulavinaka
            pleasurepalate Sep 30, 2007 03:43 PM

            It's good to have something more basic, especially if you're new to dim sum and unsure of what you're getting into. Also, it's places like Ocean Star that make you appreciate dim sum restaurants like Sea Harbour and Elite even more.

          2. re: pleasurepalate
            ipsedixit Sep 30, 2007 08:53 PM

            Yes, esp. for cart places, timing is important. I'd say the variety reaches its crescendo at about noon to 1 p.m.

            1. re: ipsedixit
              SauceSupreme Oct 1, 2007 07:57 AM

              And of course, the waiting times to match.

              1. re: SauceSupreme
                ipsedixit Oct 1, 2007 11:07 AM

                But, of course. It also adds to the atmosphere and that deafening, ear-splitting din.

        2. s
          slacker Sep 30, 2007 03:41 PM

          Miriwa/Ocean Star used to have some of the best variety for dim sum. Even after the variety dwindled somewhat, I continued to love the place because they made the best shrimp cheung fun. The last time I was there, a few weeks ago, the shrimp cheung fun changed. I've been going there since the place opened as Miriwa, and that recipe had never been altered. But now they've gone and changed it. Now the flat noodle wrapper is thick and tough. Why did they mess with something that was so good. I will give it another try, maybe it was a fluke. But for now, I'm very disappointed.

          1. c
            Clinton Oct 1, 2007 08:41 AM

            Good review. I've noticed the similar thing the last time we were there. We got in at around 10:30am to beat the crowd and to find parking. The selections were minimum and basic. Nothing fancy and the food was OK not fantastic. But around noon time the selections began to increase along with the crowds of people. I don't remember anything that stood out though. Typical basic dim sum...siu mai, har gow, cheong funn, spareribs, char siu baos, etc. I miss the old Miriwa where they had sucking pig, fried calamari, duck, and other exotic mouthwatering dishes. Ocean Star is good but not great!

            1. c
              cfylong Oct 1, 2007 09:05 AM

              We tried Ocean Star this past weekend, primarily because I have forgotten about this place for about seven, eight years, and I would have to concur with your review. The carts carrying sui mai, har gow, pai gok, must have passed us about five or six times while we were eating. The other carts were carrying items that look like they've been around since the A.M. What we had was okay, but nothing stood out. We were surprised that we didn't have to wait at primetime dimsum Sunday 1pm. I might go back because I don't have to wait, it's a big hall, and you get the basics up front, but it won't be a destination place.

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