We get a little fancy again, this time it's dinner at East Ocean, one of Sydney's top notch Chinese chow houses.
Salt and pepper enoki mushrooms - $12. It is perfectly cooked and spiced: light, crispy and barely a hint of grease, just the right amount of salt and chili. These are like little mushroomy french fries. Amazing. It's a generous serve, such good value, particularly after a so-so visit to Billy Kwong on the weekend, where something like this would set you back nearly $40.
Silken tofu with pork mince - around $10 (sorry, we were so excited we forgot to take notes). Beautifully presented, clean and simple.
Cold beef - around $25. That's jellyfish on the side folks, it tastes much better than it sounds, sweet like the sauerkraut of the sea. The beef is like Chinese corned beef or silverside, served cold. It works best mixed together with the supplied orange flavoured sauce over the top. Perhaps it's not for everybody, but we loved it. Alison makes corned beef with Chinese stewing spices at home, they work well.
Bean curd with salted fish hot pot - around $25. Georgous silken tofu with a pungent base of salted fish, with ginger and shallots. Interestingly, the ginger was in small hunks and semi-cooked to give a real big ginger hit now and again.
East Ocean has a reputation as one of Sydney's premier Chinese restaurants, we can see why. It's a bit fancy but far from intimidating, the service is friendly and very attentive, even a yob like Shawn in his flannelette shirt (will someone tell him the 1990's grunge fashion died twenty years ago?) is treated like a king.
East Ocean can be heavy on the wallet if you want seafood, but a lot of stuff is perhaps only a few dollars more than your average suburban Chinese joint, the servings are substantial, and there's lots of menu options that reward the adventurous. We had all this plus tea and two Tsing Tao's for around $98.00.
East Ocean is at 421 Sussex St Haymarket, there's another entrance on Dixon Street, dangerously adjacent to the Covent Garden Hotel. http://www.eastocean.com.au/
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