Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ocean Palace (and Amazing Wok and Pearl of the Orient)

Update: I'm pretty sure Ocean Palace is closed. Emperor's Palace on Wolf Road is not too far away and a great choice.
We ate at Ocean Palace tonight. I loved it. My wife did not.

She had wonton soup and cashew chicken. She was not fond of the soup, but liked the cashew chicken better. I thought both were excellent. The chicken was just right and had a delicate flavor. The soup also had a delicate flavor. Neither dish was the way they are in most Chinese restaurants around here. I suspect OP is more "authentic". One hint that way is that there were two other families there while we were eating (a very early dinner on a Sunday) and both were Chinese and speaking Chinese. Also, they have menus on the walls or hanging that are written in Chinese only. That's a hint that their target market is not gringos like us.

I had a mix of tofu and minced pork. The version I had in Japan was spicier and had more pork. The one at Ocean Palace has a fairly small amount of pork, with a lot of tofu along with some Chinese mushrooms. This dish was good, but I remember liking it better in Japan. Maybe I was just looking for what I remembered. We also got noodles for our daughters, but they didn't eat much of them. It was ginger-scallion noodles. I thought it was also quite good.

This is one of those funny things about cultures. To Americans, tofu and pork together doesn't make sense. Americans think tofu is for vegetarians, so it doesn't make sense to have a dish with tofu and any kind of meat. Asians do not view tofu as a vegetarian thing. It's food. Similarly good hot-and-sour soup has both pork and tofu in it. Which reminds me -- I had hot-and-sour soup at Ocean Palace tonight. It was better than what you get at the buffet places, but I like it better at Amazing Wok.

Amazing Wok is a hole-in-the-wall (or mini-mall) place not too far from us. It's made for delivery and take-out mostly, though there are a few tables. We get delivery from them often. Their hot-and-sour soup my favorite, and their other dishes are good too. My wife likes Amazing Wok and usually does not like what she gets at any other Chinese place. I think Ocean Palace is better overall, but you have to want the authentic stuff.

I should also mention Pearl of the Orient, which we go to sometimes and like quite a bit. We used to go to a place called Dumpling House, but I think they closed.

My wife also had a comment about Chinese restaurants in general. They're not family-friendly, or at least not gringo-kid friendly. They don't have milk or apple juice. The interiors do not look fresh and clean - not dirty, but just not as nice. They don't have kids menus, crayons, or other items to distract the kids so parents can enjoy themselves.

There will be a new chain Chinese place coming into Colonie Center, called PF Chang. We hear good things, but we'll see.


Albany Jane said...

Wow, the chinese resturant reviews are really making their way around! I really suggest going to Ocean Palace for dim sum. The mini foods are something the kiddies should get a kick out of. Hell, I know I still do!

Anonymous said...

We moved to Albany after having lived in Seattle and San Francisco - cannot get better Chinese anywhere. Prospects here are dismal, but PF Changs, due to open at CC in June, is fantastic. WE went there on a regular basis in Seattle, which had an overabundance of great Chinese.

Anonymous said...

anonymous hit it on the head - PF Chang's is heavenly - the best mongolian beef, peking ravioli (with wonderful chili oil) and lest I not forget - their garlic won't find a dish on their menu really is that fabulous - and YES, I'm talking about a CHAIN restaurant!

Anonymous said...

If you haven't already, you should try Plum Blossom on Hoosick Rd. (a.k.a. Rt. 7) in Troy . . . they have excellent Chinese food there.

Unknown said...

I have been to Plum Blossom, but not in a long time. I remember it being good.

Anonymous said...

PF Changs will not have the authentic Cantonese food you had at Ocean Palace. PF Changs _does_ have predictably good food. You won't be disappointed there. But what I like about OP is the real authentic Cantonese food. We had things like shark fin soup, and cooked lobster. It was a special menu though. Maybe not regular fare at OP. It's great to see PF Changs move into Albany. I hope they do well there.

Marnen said...

You wrote:
To Americans, tofu and pork together doesn't make sense. Americans think tofu is for vegetarians, so it doesn't make sense to have a dish with tofu and any kind of meat.

I reply: Huh? I've had tofu-and-pork dishes in Chinese restaurants many times. I don't think there's anything particularly weird about it. Neither would anyone else I know, I think.