On Sept 25th, Eating in Vancouver & the World joined the regular ChineseBites panel for the sixth ChineseBites Signature Dish Tour dinner. Personally having grown up in Kerrisdale, I have eaten lunch at Golden Ocean several times but never actually been there for dinner. The fact that we also tried dim sum after 7pm was also novel as I don’t think I have ever had it past 2pm. Anyway, another enjoyable meal with a few truly tasty dishes.
To kick start the meal, we were served a few different types of dim sum. I was not particularly blown away by the Mini Egg Tarts 迷你鮮蛋撻 or the har gow as they are both very common offerings and I have had better elsewhere. The Egg Pastry with Dried Shredded Coconut 冰花椰絲雞蛋散 turned out to be excessively sweet which may have worked as a dessert offering but was definitely not the best way to start dinner. In a more positive light, the Breaded Shrimp with Deep Fried To-Fu 百花玉子豆腐(炸) and the Breaded Shrimp with Deep Fried Egg Plant 百花釀茄子(炸) were really quite good. The eggplant and tofu went very well with the shrimp in both dishes and I could not help reaching for second and third helpings.
The first main dish of the evening was the Crab with Special House Sauce (Noodle Base) 秘製蟹(生麵底). Let me just say that this was heck of a way to start things off! The crab was cooked perfectly and the sauce was delicious. The wide noodles that served as a base for the crab soaked up the thick, dark sauce greedily and went really well with the crab meat. One of the better dishes of the night and one I would definitely order again.
The second main we tried was the Steamed Tofu & Egg White with Diced Seafood & Meat 琼山豆腐. Although we did not end up ordering any bowls of white rice (there were already almost 10 courses), I bet this dish would have gone beautifully with rice. The steamed tofu was extremely soft and had absorbed the distinct flavours of the seafood and other ingredients quite well. Eaten plain or with a little chili sauce, this is a relatively simple dish that goes well with anything.
Our third main dish was a plate of Stir Fried Beef with Steamed Buns 醬爆花卷牛肉. Given a chance to exhibit their wok skills, the chef of this classic beef and pepper stir fry dish definitely did not disappoint. Greedily taking two white buns for myself, I loaded both with tender cuts of marinated beer and generous allocations of veggies. With the sauce literally spilling out of the open bun and down my hands, both steaming hot buns were devouring in record time. This is a dish I have tried at many restaurants and can say this is definitely one of the better representations. The beef was very tender and flavorful with the coloured bell peppers still fairly crisp.
The fourth main dish was a generous portion of Honey Garlic Spareribs and Deep Fried Shrimp Balls 蒜子蜜汁骨炸蝦球. Definitely not the most healthy dish of the evening, it was delicious nevertheless. The deep fried shrimp balls had a super crisp exterior and housed an interior packed with tender, perfectly cooked shrimp meat. The honey garlic spareribs were quite sweet and definitely should be eaten with rice or noodles. Served with a few bowls of white rice and perhaps a vegetable dish, this is a great lunch or dinner for two right here.
The fifth main dish was a beautifully plated Deep Fried Sole Fillet 骨香龍利球. After the deep fried delight above, I thought oh good, a healthy fish dish! Turns out we got a fish dish but deep fried. It was pretty hard to taste the actual sole through all the seasonings and thick batter but I guess that’s what happens when you deep fry a fillet. Again, not the healthiest dish but definitely very tasty and should be served with rice or noodles. Of the few pieces I tried, I liked what I tasted.
The sixth main dish was a heaping glass plate of Dried Garlic & Enoki Mushrooms with Pea Tips 蒜子金菇浸豆苗. After two quite unhealthy fried dishes, this purely vegetable dish was definitely appreciated. The vegetables were fresh and quite organic tasting with the enoki mushroom garnish serving as a great pairing. As stated earlier, if you come to Golden Ocean with one other person, you would be quite well off simply ordering this dish and say the honey garlic spareribs with a few bowls of white rice. As the portions are quite large, ordering one or two mains for two people is more than enough.
The seventh and final main dish of the night was Deep Fried Duck Wrapped in Taro 香酥鴨. When this dish first arrived, I thought it was some type of meat fritter so was pretty surprised after my first bite. The deep fried duck meat was quite tough, almost like beef jerky whereas the taro was softer, similar to the taro cakes you buy at any Chinese supermarket. This was the first time I have tried this dish and really enjoyed it. Even though I was extremely full, I still managed to polish off my serving fairly easily as the actual cut is quite light and palatable.
To finish the evening off, we were served Tofu Pudding 山水豆腐花, Baked Tapioca Pudding 西米焗布甸 and Deep Fried Green Tea Sticky Rice Ball with Sesame 綠茶馬沙糍 for dessert. I must be honest and say at this point of the evening, I was so stuffed I could not really taste my food. From what I can remember, the baked tapioca pudding and tofu pudding were pretty standard, nothing to write home about. The sesame rice ball was green but tasted exactly like the yellow sesame balls you get at any dim sum restaurant.
To wrap up with a few final thoughts, I have been attending these ChineseBites dinners since the very first meeting at Golden Swan back in mid July. Although some venues are slightly better than others, I have yet to be disappointed at any of the gatherings. Golden Ocean is owned by the same person that owns Golden Swan and there are definitely some similarities/parallels I can see between both restaurants. On future visits, I would definitely forego the dim sum options and stick with the truly stellar dishes like the crab on noodles, stir fried beef in bun and the honey garlic spareribs with shrimp balls. Due to the size of the dishes, you do not need to order a dozen plates unless you are in a very large group. If you stick with a few really good dishes and order a couple heaping bowls of white rice, I think you will be really happy with the food at Golden Ocean.