Wednesday, November 5, 2014

South Ocean Seafood 南海漁村海鮮酒家

The last time I had live seafood was a bit over a week ago and my cravings were really bad, so a trip to Richmond was called for. My original destination was Chef Tony, but $32.00/lb for lobster is very steep considering there would only be the two of us. This is where South Ocean comes in, we called a few restaurants while circling Richmond and the restaurant offered the cheapest price. A mere $11.95/lb for crab and lobster!

Walking in, the restaurant looks outdated and old. There are chipped plates, partially ripped tablecloths, one of the chairs at our table is taped with masking tape, and the table setting is dirty. Furthermore, there were seven waitstaff at the front of the restaurant and it was impossible to order? There were only three large tables at time of our visit too! 

In addition, the old looking and stained yellow as well as browning pages from the menu did not help either. In essence, I had no expectations and expected the worst. But hey, $11.95/lb for live seafood? It is worth trying. As for the photo of the interior, I snapped it as we were leaving and the restaurant looks way better than it is! The interior resembles Pelican Seafood Restaurant because of the lighting.

The hot and sour soup has a nice tang, but does not taste spicy. As for the ingredients, there are bouncy shrimp, fungus, tofu, bamboo shoot and soft as well as tender tasting pork. The soup has a good amount of ingredients and the consistency is not watery.

To qualify for the $11.95/lb price on live seafood, there is a minimum order of one dish per special. That is it? No BS restriction of a limited lb of seafood per person or being overcharged regarding a dishonest weight? Yup, this is South Ocean Seafood, not Tin Tin Seafood.

I try my best never to order lobster over 3lb because I like the meat to taste tender rather than rubbery, but this is the smallest size the restaurant offered. When I grabbed for the first piece, WOW. The lobster is just cooked where the meat tastes plump, juicy, tender but bouncy, and easily pops out of the shell. As for the sauce, there is a creamy flavour along with a light butteriness and a dash of sweetness from the onion. Furthermore, the natural flavour of the lobster is there and the sauce has a great consistency.

The crab is nicely prepared and is presented presented with the same garnishing as the lobster. The restaurant uses fresh fried garlic too which provides a stronger aroma and a richer flavour. In addition, there is a rich peppery seasoning and the crab is well executed, having loose and fluffy meat.

Not craving for rice or chow mein, I decided to try the beef with rice noodles instead. This was a great choice because the slices of beef taste tender and there is an occasional soft crunch from the bean sprouts. Moreover, the whole dish has a great wok seasoning and heat. There is a rich char and caramelization in the noodles, more than ribs I have had at barbecue restaurants in Vancouver!

When the last dish arrived, the both of us were surprised that the restaurant uses jumbo sized scallops which ain't cheap. Even higher end restaurants such as Kirin, Sun Sui Wah and Red Star do not even use jumbo scallops! The slices of scallop taste moist, tender and properly rinsed, no disgusting gooeyness here. In addition, there is a nice ginger flavour and the celery tastes fresh with a nice crunch. The flavour of the wine is fairly subtle too, which is the way it is supposed to be so the taste does not overwhelm the ingredients.

I can shamelessly admit that before the food arrived, it seemed as if I was subconsciously finding something wrong with the restaurant. The old decor, dirty carpet, physically unappealing menu and the inattentive staff were already annoying a hungry girl. Everything changed however, the staff provided plenty of plate changes without us having to request and are amazingly friendly people, every of them! Everyone also said goodbye before we left the restaurant, which is very rare. Even on a former visit to Kirin in Richmond, no one gave a crap about us.

Furthermore, the restaurant even saved some dessert soup for us! From our experiences regardless of the calibre of Chinese restaurant, dessert soup is always forgotten for late diners because the waitstaff rarely tells the kitchen to save a couple of bowls. As for the taste, there is a light mandarin peel flavour and the soup does not taste too sweet. The consistency is also fairly thin but not watery one bit.

TOTAL: $127.60 + TIP $22.40 = $150.00.

There is more regarding the service too, I am not sure what time the restaurant closes but all the staff were sitting around a large table at around 9:30pm. No one rushed us and usually the cashier will say "pay the bill but you can stay", however, the lady at South Ocean did not! We eventually rushed on our own terms because I did not want anyone waiting on us, and turns out the staff was preparing to have their carpet professionally cleaned. FML, even the professional carpet cleaner apologized that he had to clean the carpet when we saw him outside as we were leaving! Am I dreaming? People actually say a simple goodbye at a restaurant? Because of the genuinely friendly staff along with the above average food, I am going to revisit. If it was not for the service, I probably would not revisit for dinner unless there was a promotion. But I HAVE to revisit after this.

- Well executed food
- Genuinely friendly staff
- Honest weight regarding live seafood
- Great promotion and no shadiness

- Atmosphere is meh, but the seating arrangements are not cramped

- Hot and sour soup (2.5/5)

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 4/5

South Ocean Seafood 南海漁村海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon

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