Man, this place brings back memories. Prior to its current iteration, Golden Ocean was once Miramar. We knew the owners and were regulars for Dim Sum every weekend. This was when I attended Osler Elementary when we still lived in Oakridge. Yes, it was a very long time ago! Honestly, I don't recall the last time I was here. Today, we met up with Goose and Mother Goose along with my parents for Dim Sum. Knowing how the place gets crazy busy on the weekends, we made a reservation for 11:45am. The significance of the time is that before 11:30am, there is a 20% discount off the total bill. Thus, it's extra crazy busy before that and a reservation is pretty much useless. So at 11:45am, there is a much better chance we'd get our table quickly, which we did.
Part of a dying breed, Golden Ocean stills serves Dim Sum on rolling carts. As much as I still like the novelty of Dim Sum carts, it doesn't seem very practical here since the seating arrangements are tight and the walkways even tighter. It reminds me of rush hour on #3 Road in Richmond! Except in this case, you want lots of cart traffic around you since you get more food! The one problem with carts is we end up ordering too much and the table gets filled to the max. It's an inherent affliction since the Chinese in us takes over. We start to worry that the dishes we want will either be sold out or won't come around again. So let the hording begin! "Back off! Get your own Haw Gow!"
We started with the Shrimp Spring Rolls and it was a no-brainer really. My son loves the "crunchy" and would never let the cart go by without asking for it. Too bad he doesn't eat the filling! Although making a good spring roll isn't exactly rocket science, these were pretty good. Crunchy, full of shrimp and none too salty or oily, they did their job. To somewhat have greens in our diet, we got the Stir-Fried Pea Shoots. This is a tricky dish to prepare since if you overcooked it, the pea shoots become limp like spinach. Under-cooking it and it might be too chewy. This one was nearing the overcooked stage; but barely. So it was acceptable, especially in a Dim Sum environment.
As always, we got the 2 classics - Haw Gow & Sui Mai (aka Shrimp Dumplings and Pork/Shrimp Dumplings). As for the Sui Mai, I thought they were executed quite well. What you look for in a good sui mai is tender; yet slightly chewy pork and cold-water crunchy shrimp. There should be a bit of pork fat and a touch of sweetness-saltiness-sesame oil. For aesthetic reasons, a small dab of tobiko or salted duck egg yolk should top each dumpling. In this case, all of the above applies. For a good Haw Gow, naturally, there should be crunchy cold water shrimp that is just cooked. Mixed in could be a variety of things which include pork fat, water chestnuts, white pepper, sesame oil, sugar and salt. There are some variations which use bamboo shoots in place of water chestnuts. That, in my opinion, is a not as good since bamboo shoots are quite pungent and overwhelm the delicate shrimp. Fortunately, there were not bamboo shoots in these shrimp dumplings, which were quite good. The only thing I'd change is the slightly thick dumpling skin.
Another Dim Sum staple is the Beef Meatballs. Although there are several variations, when it comes down to it, it's a meatball of ground beef. However, the important thing here is to make the ground beef smooth without being mushy. These were good being soft with still a nice "rebound" when bitten into. The good thing about carts is that you can actually see the food, which makes deciding whether to order it or not a bit easier. In the case of the Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant, we ordered it based on the size of the dish. They should've renamed it shrimp with a bit of eggplant. Lots of juicy ground shrimp on top of eggplant made this dish a winner.
The Loh Mei Guy (Sticky Rice wrapped in lotus leaves) is another dish we often order. A "filler" item, it's "cum bao", which is not a disgusting protein bun despite how it sounds. Rather, it means that you can get full on it easily. In this case, the rice was a bit soft due to the copious amount of pork filling. Despite this, the amount of filling helped flavour the rice thoroughly. Now a dish that some people might take a pass at; but you know that I would definitely eat - Steamed Beef Tendon. Honestly, there is not inherent taste to it other than what it is cooked in. So it is a textural issue with most people. When cooked right, it's gelatinous and slightly chewy. Overcooked and it's mush, undercooked, it's unchewable. Once again, they nailed here with soft pieces of tendon that maintained their shape while being garlicky and slightly sweet.
Another dish that people horde over is the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll. Sure, it comes in different forms such as BBQ pork, beef, mushroom, scallop, salty donut, spareribs and plain; but the shrimp version is the most popular. We had to special order this one because it kept selling out before it got to us. Yet again, another great dish. Encased within soft layers of rice noodle were crunchy cold water shrimp. We also got the Beef Rice Noodle Roll as well and it was just as good with the beef being soft and not overwhelmed with cilantro. A dish we got exclusively for the kiddies were the BBQ Pork Mexican Buns. Wait a minute! Mexican bun? WTH is that? Yah, when I first saw one in a Chinese bakery, I was confused. What does Mexico have to do with these pineapple bun cousins? Well, they seem to be a variation of the Mexican Conchas. Filled to the max with sweet BBQ pork in a soft pastry with a crispy sweet topping, these were better than some Chinese bakery versions.
Another dish for the kiddies was the Preserved Duck Egg and Salted Pork Congee. Well, at least for my daughter since the chances of my son eating preserved duck egg would be as good as the contestants on Fear Factor. I wish I was on that episode since I would be popping those eggs like a snack. Alas, with my luck, they'd have roasted cockroaches or something that would make me want to gag. Anyways, the congee was alright for a Dim Sum meal. It was a bit thin; yet it did have lots of ingredients.
For dessert, we ended up getting 3 orders of the Egg Tarts, not because we wanted to necessarily eat so many; but my daughter had a whole plate to herself. I guess they were good? I didn't have one. They did look good though. Ultimately, the meal was quite good. Not one item was sub par. Service, if you can imagine was only acceptable since the place was a madhouse. Despite this, the staff were as friendly as they could be. The only downside is that the pricing (even with the discount) ain't exactly cheap. Blame that on the location. Still, we enjoyed our meal and would gladly return for another.
- Carefully prepared food
- Most items were bang on
- Pretty decent selection with carts
- Quite narrow for carts
- A bit pricey