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Dec 10, 2007 09:55 AM

Ocean Harbor Dim Sum

Tried Ocean Harbor on Sunday after hearing some good chowhound reviews. I definitely enjoyed its chaotic, Hong Kong style dim sum atmosphere. I agree with a previous poster that dim sum just isn't the same without carts and cart-pulling ladies yelling "har gau, shiu mai !!"

That being said, just about everything I had at Ocean Harbor was better than the offerings at Lakeside. For instance, the shiu mai had lots more flavor, including dried shitake mushrooms pureed into the shrimp and pork mixture. The turnip cake had much more turnip, dried sausage and dried shrimp. The chinese broccoli, was fresh and not overwhelmed by store brand oyster sauce - though I wish they would've used baby chinese broccoli instead.

Unfortunately, the stuffed egglant and meatballs were only mediocre. The eggplant tasted bland and didn't have enough filling. The egglant I had a couple weekends ago at Lakeside, however, was just right.

I honestly cannot remember any other dim sum item I ordered because this experience was somewhat marred by a potential gas leak explosion from a har gau/shiu mai cart plopped right next to my table. As I was gorging myself, I noticed the cart lady was frantic about the smoke stemming from the cart. Once I smelled gas, I almost hightailed it out of there like George Constanza at a kid's pizza party. The crisis was soon averted, and though the smell of gas never fully went away, we still managed to enjoy the food.

Yes, the very reason I enjoy Ocean Harbor over Lakeside, almost led to my untimely death. Go figure.

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  1. Just a quick thank you for wonderful memories of Ocean Harbor - I haven't been there in about 10 years. My late husband and I had just come back from a 3 week trip to Hong Kong, and that was the closest thing to it in Philly we could find. Since he passed, I haven't had the heart to go back. Now, maybe I will. Thanks.....

    1 Reply
    1. re: MarcyD


      I would really recommend Ocean Harbor - for the experience alone. Dim sum is always great fun when you take friends/family who have never been. Take care!

    2. haha, it sounds like you're on the same dim sum mission that i am! ocean harbor was next on my list. what's next?

      1 Reply
      1. re: rabidog

        I'm so glad I decided to give Philly dim sum another try. My first attempt at Ocean City a few years ago was literally the worst Asian meal I've ever had. Next up is Joy Tsin (spelling?). But I think I may just stick with Ocean Harbor in the end.

        Keep us posted on your upcoming trip to Ocean Harbor, I'd love to hear more opinions.

      2. Ocean Harbor is my favorite in the city as well. But there are some dishes that they don't provide that my wife and I really like: the sea snails, mango pudding, the rectangle fried "cake" with bits of pork in it, served with oyster sauce (you can see that I'm not chinese---I actually get up and hunt around the ladies for what I like). The eggplant dish, I agree, was a little disappointing (it was special the day we went) looked better than it tasted, if you know what I mean. Their atmosphere and offering is very typical of large dim sum places in NYC, Flushing, or Boston; but they do have less variety of dishes than what I'm used to (which is usually ok cause I have about 6 dishes that I ALWAYS get when I go dim sum).

        Lakeside, from my experience, wasn't that bad at all. It was a different dim sum experience for sure and they didn't really have the things we were looking for. But not having much expectations made me appreciate Lakeside more, I think.

        Never had the gas experience at Ocean Harbor. Sounds like pretty fun though. lol.

        3 Replies
        1. re: baekster

          I think turnip cakes are what you refer to as the "rectangle friend cakes with bits of pork in it." If that's the case, Ocean Harbor serves them and they are very very good, with the right amount of everything.

          Which Boston places have you been to? I think Boston is the best place for dim sum b/c of the variety, the hoards of carts, and the stations with snails, claims, friend noodles, and other more questionable animal parts. However, Ocean Harbor comes very close to Boston establishments such as Hei La Moon and China Pearl.

          1. re: FoolForFood

            China Pearl and the place across from it...although China Pearl is the place we go the most. They really got some great selections, and I love the food there.

            1. re: FoolForFood

              The places in Flushing are pretty good, too. Better parking for sure. :) I don't really know the names of the places though. I just go with my friends who live in Queens, NY.

          2. On that notes, I made a mistake of trying some of the vietnamese places for dim sums (because it's more convenient to get to, with parking). What a mistake. :) Their food tasted very...stale and the taste is way off. They have some Vietnamese dim sum dishes (if they can be called dim sum), like skewered meatballs on a sugarcane...which I haven't seen before in traditional Cantonese dim sum places. Those dishes are mediocre at best; the rest, just bad. :) So stick to Chinatown for dimsum. But I guess everyone knows that, or at least assumes that anyway. The extra $10 for parking in Chinatown is totally worth it to go dim sum.

            1 Reply
            1. re: baekster

              Vietnamese "dimsum" is nothing like the Cantonese version and isn't really dimsum, though it can be good. For example, the meatballs on sugarcane can be really good when done well, though it is generally not something that often gets made well, especially in a restaurant.

            2. had some very frustrating ventures in chinese dining, as a vegetarian, this week.

              i went to ocean harbor and asked what vegetarian dishes were recommended. waiter pointed out something with pork, i asked if it could be made without pork, i thought he'd agreed yes, it could, and he said they'd add veggies and tofu. dish comes out with veggies, tofu and pork. confusion ensues. a second dish comes out, no pork, pan fried noodles with tofu and veggies. actually very delicious. my dining companion had the singapore noodles which were also reportedly very good. excellent comfort food. just upset i had to waste some pork in the mix. the soups we had, hot and sour and egg drop, were tasty as well.

              today for lunch we stopped in on that funky 50's diner-looking chinese place on rte 30 in ardmore, it's always looked intriguing. interestingly enough, the exact same scene unfolded. the singapore rice noodles were listed as just that, so i asked what else came with it, was it vegetarian, no meat? i was told yes, it was... came out with chicken and shrimp. i asked about it, and the waitress said the chef said that chicken wasn't meat. eh? anyway, they brought it out a second time. still had shrimp, but i just took it; i do make the occasional exception for seafood. nothing to write home about, other than my frustrations with chinese dining this week! i think i'll lay off for awhile and head back to the vietnamese places for the christmas holiday.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rabidog

                Ocean Harbor has a fantastic veggie slippery noodle - pasta rolled around a wonderful mix of veggies, including lots of mushrooms, tiny corn chunks, etc. It's hard to spot and goes quickly. They also do have snails, but only on weekends. I like their clams better. I think what the earlier poster was complaining about re the turnip cakes - OH's turnip cakes are good, but they are not fried on the cart (that makes a difference, since they are awful if not really hot).

                The diner place (Chung Sing) has a whole list of veggie dishes on the menu. And one of their lunch specials is eggplant and tofu in garlic sauce - an entire lunch including soup for $4.