September 17, 2005

Ocean Restaurant - Inner Richmond

shark fin dim sum

Rio recently took me to a little restaurant on the beloved Clement St., in the Inner Richmond, for some early lunch dim sum. I've been to Ocean Restaurant with Rio a few years ago, but the memory is fuzzy on our meal that day. I do remember something light, crunchy and delicious though.

That day was a bit chilly, but otherwise perfect. Rio was treating me to lunch for my birthday, and I had the day off, so my mood was elevated on many levels.

Ocean Restaurant is a small to mid-sized restaurant, white tablecloth style, with a large menu, but known to offer an array of dim sum dishes. We arrive to a dining room sprinkled with customers, and get ourselves settled.

Ocean doesn't cart around trays of dim sum dishes to choose from. You are given a list of dishes, which you check off and hand to the server. You then sit back and wait for the goodies to arrive.

I swear we picked one of the best days to eat here, because our dim sum came in courses, instead of all at once. The first thing out were the steamed dim sum: shark fin, pork siu mai, shrimp & leek, and shrimp & cilantro dumplings. We eat these with a small dab of Chinese mustard on the side. Stupendous! Delicious and steaming hot.

Next course was turnip cake that amazingly sustained a grilled crunch on the outside, and a very large shark-fin dumpling in broth with ginger and a dab of vinegar. All the while we have hot tea and a large mound of gai lan (chinese broccoli) with oyster sauce on the side.

Lastly was the fried bean curd sheets with shrimp. This was the dish that made our eyeballs roll back, on the last visit, but this time it was fried a second too long, salty and a disappointment. My guess was if they removed it from the oil a few seconds earlier, it would've been perfect, but alas...

There were some other things we ate, but I can't recall and these were really the top choices of our meal. We ordered a few repeats, shark fin and shrimp, but these are favorites and I didn't feel like we missed out on anything, at least. We passed on the green tea pudding, with plans to pick up a boba tea down the street.

In my opinion, Ocean Restaurant can take on any of the big dim sum houses in San Francisco. The food was fresh, delicious and the service fast and expedient. The prices are crazy! Only $24 for the two of us and a mountain of food; and I noticed most of the customers were local old-timers, which was a big plus in my book. My guess is they've been coming here for years, as most of them seemed to have good repoire with the staff. A positive sign.

Now I have a new spot to add to my Clement St formula:
Green Apple Books
Kamei Restaurant Supplies
New Mei Wah market
Bargain Bank
Boba tea (from the joint near Radio Shack w/the big counter)
Japanese snacks from any of the cute snack shops
and Ocean Restaurant for dim sum

Ocean Restaurant
726 Clement St @ 8th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 668-8896

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