Ocean Garden: good, cheap Chinese Food

I ate at Ocean Garden a lot as a student.  It used to be a tiny hole-in-the-wall in Chinatown that one of my fellow starving students introduced me to.  The decor was well – ugly – and the menu wasn’t anything special, but the food was tasty, bountiful, fast and most importantly CHEAP.

A few things have changed.  They moved to the far larger and more prominent space on the corner.  I wouldn’t call it elegant, but the walls now have framed art and there’s a fish tank at the entry.  They’re usually very busy these days, but that’s because they still offer the same good food at really great prices.

A meal here isn’t going to be the best Chinese food you ever ate.  It also won’t be the most authentic.  I should mention that they do offer more traditional dishes on their menu, and there is certainly a demographic of their clientele who eat here for it, but what keeps this place packed amongst so many similar choices in Chinatown are their combos tailored to suit the Western taste in Chinese food.  Prominently affixed to their window are signs advertising their lunch special combos, all for only $6.50 – $7.50.

I stopped by my old haunt in the middle of a busy Saturday to have a quick meal.  I was starving, so I sprung for Combo B:  Chicken Chow Mein, Chicken Chop Suey, Sweet & Sour Pork and my choice of Almond Chicken or Prawns.  A pot of Jasmine tea arrived nearly immediately, and the food came mere minutes afterward.  Lest you think the food is sitting pre-precooked under a heat lamp, I can assure you that every item on mine arrived piping hot.  The chow mein was delicious, the vegetables cooked to a perfect al-dente, and the pork is lean and well sauced.  The almond chicken and deep-fried prawns are both too heavily-battered for my taste, but I will say that the batter is crisp and light-tasting.  My only other criticism is a bit too much sauce on the chop suey.

Portions here are huge, and even with my hearty appetite, I didn’t finish my meal.  I paid my $7.50, and left satisfied.

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~ by Dee's Cheap Eats on August 31, 2010.

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