Saturday, February 17, 2007

East Ocean, Sussex St, Haymarket

East Ocean, Sussex St, Haymarket
Saturday 17 February, 2007

Tonight was Chinese New Year - it is now the Year of the Pig. So, what better way to celebrate than to head into Chinatown for a banquet at East Ocean. We knew it was going to be ridiculously busy, crowded and loud but nothing prepared us for this.

I had eaten at East Ocean back in November - it was good, not great. So, tonight we decided to return for their Chinese New Year banquet at $70pp. Bring it on.
Chinatown was packed to the rafters - it was a sight to behold and there was only one thing that would get you through the evening - patience. On arrival at East Ocean there was a large congregation at the bottom of the stairs on Sussex St - eager diners waiting for a seat? No, it was the dragon dancing group waiting for their green light to enter. Lining the staircase were the dramatic, brightly coloured dragon costumes and head pieces.
We had been told to arrive promptly at 6.30pm as there were two sittings - 6.30 and 8.30pm - and we did. The dining space was full with large groups of families and friends, the atmosphere was loud and electric, and the staff were in abundance.
As it was Chinese NYE we had to pre-order our meal - so we knew earlier this week that we would be enjoying:
- Mixed entree e.g. spring rolls, dim sum and prawn dumplings
- Sweet corn soup with crab meat
- Lobster with ginger and shallot
- Stir fried scallops with macadamia nuts
- Salt and pepper calamari
- Steamed whole fish
- Fried rice
- Chinese tea
- Fresh fruit
Our waiter for the evening was Steve - a wonderful man who kept our table well organised and ensured everything had it's place. He was good humoured and quite protective of us during the night. For example, the supreme crispy skin chicken was not on our menu but it looked so great and many tables around us were tucking into it. So, we asked Steve if there was any way we could also enjoy the supreme crispy skin chicken too. We watched him talk with a few other waiters and a very senior looking gentleman before returning and sharing that the chicken would be added to our menu. You've gotta love a waiter that goes into bat for you!
Due to the enormous crowd our food did take a while to arrive however when it did it all came at once. This was a little overwhelming. Not long after we started eating the dragon dancers began - it was all happening! The sound, colour and excitement was fabulous. A member of the dance group came to our table to hand out red envelopes and explained that we could make a donation to the group by placing money inside the envelopes and putting it inside the dragon's mouth. The drummers set up near the kitchen and the drum beats were loud and strong (and now permanently embedded in my mind).
We got right into the spirit of it and watched in awe as three different dragons worked their way through the restaurant. Eager diners stood up on chairs and waved their red envelopes high to attract the dragons. It was so much fun and watching the kids was priceless - it is apparently good luck to place an envelope inside the dragon's mouth. We handed over three envelopes but watched as many tables handed over many more. The interested part was watching the dragon's circle the dining space over and over again, batter their eyes and sidle up against unsuspecting diners.
The dramatic conclusion was watching the dragons try to pull down the lettuce hanging from the ceiling. Everyone stood up and clapped and cheered - it created a brilliant atmosphere and everyone sat down exhausted ready to resume eating. The highlight of this display was watching everyone else - the people watching was so much fun - the young and old - and watching how important this night was. I loved it.
Our food was great - the flavours and freshness were to be commended considering the amount of food the kitchen had to prepare and serve in quick succession. The highlight for me was the stir fried scallops - they were large, plump and delicious - and the supreme crispy skin chicken that was served tender on the inside and delightfully crisp on the outside.
We all over-ate and sunk back into our chairs very satisfied. One thing was confirmed this will become an annual event for us. We left just prior to 8.30am and walked into the chaos of Dixon St that was alive with markets and side show games. It was crowded but we took out time looking at the stalls of trinkets, lanterns, lotus lights, food and jewellery. What a sensational night.

East Ocean - 421-429 Sussex St, Haymarket - (02) 9212 4198


Post a Comment

<< Home

Sign my Guestbook from Get your Free Guestbook from

View My Stats

Ring Owner: Augustus Gloop Site: Grab Your Fork
Free Site Ring from Bravenet Free Site Ring from Bravenet Free Site Ring from Bravenet Free Site Ring from Bravenet Free Site Ring from Bravenet
Site Ring from Bravenet