Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Motion in the Ocean

Wails of desperation are heard whenever the subject of Chinese food comes up. "Why doesn't Portland have just one good Chinese restaurant?" is usually the gist of the complaints. There have been occasional glimmers of hope: the wonton soup at Good Taste Noodle House on 82nd, the whole fish and salt-and-pepper shrimp at Om Seafood, the xiao long bao at Asian Station.

And finding decent dim sum, that epitome of Chinese fast food, has been a dicey game at best. Back in the day, Fong Chong was an even, if not always consistent, bet, but it's since gotten into "not on your life" territory. And a little place out in deep Beaverton called China Town was a very good, if hard to get to, spot.

The fatty pork short ribs.

So when I heard that Ocean City Seafood Restaurant on 82nd just south of Fubonn had undergone a recent change of ownership and a makeover, both cosmetically and of its menu, I was all ears. It had been whispered that their dim sum lunch was quite good, possibly (fingers crossed) verging on great. Walking in at lunch, the sight of so many Asian customers chowing down enthusiastically on their selections was heartening.

The immediate appearance of a fully stocked cart with a variety of very fresh, hot, very well-made packets of delight gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, my dreams of decent (or even, god help me, excellent) dim sum wouldn't be in vain. I was grinning like an idiot at the first round of pork siu mai, shrimp har gow, a shrimp-scallop mixture in a noodle "cup" and some lovely barbecued pork cha siu baao. The siu mai was moist and not the least bit greasy, the whole shrimp in the har gow popping with fresh flavor (as was the scallop-shrimp) and the bao was light, steamy and had a nice smokiness in the sauce.

Stir-fried pea shoots and garlic.

Round two, consisting of fatty pork spare ribs and lo mai gai, rice and meat wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed, were accompanied by a side of stir-fried pea shoots with garlic, a tangled pile of crunchy greenness that offset the richness of the pork. At this point I would have been floating up toward the ceiling if I hadn't eaten so much, but suffice it to say that this was one of the best dim sum experiences I've had in town.

The drawbacks are few…the tea is generic tea-bag and they could do with a few more carts rolling around the floor, but those are mere specks of fussiness in the overall picture of what I'm thinking may be my personal dim sum salvation.

Details: Ocean City Seafood Restaurant, 3016 SE 82nd Ave. Phone 503-771-2299.


EcoGrrl said...

Great recommendations - I'll check 'em out! However I beg to differ on PDX not having any good Chinese - I have been a huge fan of Wong's King on 87th & Division for years, and if you go there on a Sunday at brunch-time, the hour plus wait proves I'm not the only one :)

alice said...

I have yet to try Dim Sum, sounds like the perfect place to do so!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Yes, the hour wait at WK is fairly typical for brunch. Though I've been a few times at other meals and found it uneven in terms of quality. Might have to go back and try again!

pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

Growing up, we always went to Fong Chong. Now we go to Wong's King. But I'll have to try Ocean City and check it out!

(Chinese-American girl here...)

Kathleen Bauer said...

Do report back. And thanks for reading, everyone!

Anonymous said...

No more dumplings at Asian Station, they've closed and the cart is for sale.


Kathleen Bauer said...

Say it ain't so, Michelle! Too bad…wonder if anyplace else is going to pick up the XLB slack?

connieb said...

Please don't tell ANYONE about Good Taste Noodle House. We're trying to keep it a secret ;-)

Kathleen Bauer said...

Um…er…um…I blame my brother. Or anyone who's not me. About…er…whatever.

Kaleonahenahe said...

So, I don't want to split hairs, but Dim Sum is not fast food. In Hong Kong/Guangdong (and anywhere where there is a large Cantonese population) it's a family affair that lasts hours.

Kathleen Bauer said...

This is where I have one of those "Calgon, take me away!" moments…I'd so love to go and have that experience!

At restaurants here, it's considered quick lunch food, with carts swirling around the room like tornadoes.