Ocean Seafood, Chinatown, Los Angeles

Ocean Seafood, Chinatown, Los Angeles

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  1. I won’t waste time describing what dim sum is; if you’re reading this, you already know, and no one likes to be treated like and infant. (Okay, I take that back; we men love to be treated like infants, but only when we’re sick and at the peak of male whininess.) What annoys me about most explanations of dim sum is when a writer refers to the dumplings as “bite size.” Sure, they’re bite size—if you can fit five billiard balls in your mouth at a time. Most normal people have to get the majority of the dumplings down in two or more bites, which presents a problem, because no matter how good the dim sum is, it tends to fall apart once you bite it in half.

    But enough griping; I’m here to tell you about my favorite dim sum restaurant in Chinatown. You will notice that I did not say “best” but “favorite” instead. I can think of one dim sum place in Chinatown that’s better when it comes to quality (and I’m not going to tell you the name of the place, so there!), but their prices put it out of range for anything more than occasional patronage, as where most folks can afford to eat at Ocean Seafood a couple times a month.


     Some of my favorite morsels include the steamed prawn dumplings (har gow), the delicate and slippery shrimp noodle, the steamed spicy pork spare ribs, the shrimp with cilantro dumplings and, of course, the succulent shumai. In the last year or so, they made some tasty additions to their menu, including scallop dumplings, lobster dumplings and abalone with vegetable dumplings, all of which are fabulous. Bring a bib if you’re anything like me, because I go in hungry and eat like a death row inmate given his last meal seconds before the scheduled execution, and as a result wind up wearing much of the chili/soy dipping sauce on the front of my shirt (shirts featuring dark, splotchy patters are highly recommended).


     You have to fend off the steam cart ladies and waitresses wandering around with platters, because if you get everything you want to try during their first pass, most of your food will be cold before you can get to it. Get used to saying, “Next time around.” They don’t speak much English, so you may have to shoo them away, but do it politely or they may not return. My one comment about service at Ocean Seafood is that it is often too good.

    This is a great place to bring kids, as long as they are fairly open minded about new foods. With a group of five or more, you can order one of most items that look good (or two, if you have more than 6 in your group) and everyone—hopefully—will get one dumpling; not enough to fill up on, but enough to give you a good idea of what you like or don’t like.


    The décor is standard Chinese restaurant style without getting too gaudy, and the two large dining rooms can accommodate a couple hundred diners, or more. Plus there are two private rooms for large groups (say a dozen) with huge round tables with equally huge lazy susans. If the place looks familiar when you enter the downstairs lobby and start up the stairs, that’s because you saw Lethal Weapon 4, where this restaurant (parts of it, at least) served as “Uncle Benny’s” hangout.

    Two people can have a more than satisfying meal for about $25 if you stick with the tea as your beverage. Not bad for a nice outing with enough good food to make you waddle.



    Ocean Seafood Restaurant

    750 N Hill Street

    Los Angeles, CA 90012


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