1:18 AM

113-09 Queens Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 268-1668

If you want real and real good Chinese food, not the basic, find-it-on-every-corner fast food stuff, then Flushing's where you need to be. The trouble is, unless you drive, Flushing's real pain in the ass to get to. The bus takes forever. The Roosevelt Avenue subway station, as you make your way to the 7, is so crowded that it's like wading up to your neck in a swamp. You... just... can't... move... Even if you do drive, good luck parking. That's where East Ocean Palace comes in. It's a Chinese restaurant that's a Flushing ex-pat.

Walking inside it's immediately different from anywhere else in the neighborhood. It's super bright. Brighter than McDonalds. The dining room is massive and the least intimate one I've eaten in in years. The smallest table is for four people and about half of the tables there are for groups of eight or more. Decorations are sparse, as though their interior budget was spent only on lighting. The high-backed chairs and large tables make it feel like eating dinner in either a banquet hall without the wedding band or a college cafeteria with tablecloths. English isn't the wait staff's first language (or second), so expect to point a lot if your Chinese is rusty. That said, Bro and I were one of very few white folks here. I took this as a good sign. I don't like my food fake unless that's the point. Romantic, no. Fun, maybe. Group spot for people who like to share lots of food, yeah.

Bro and I started off with dim sum. Fried Bacon-wrapped Shrimp Rolls were the first to arrive and they were just that. Steamed shrimp wrapped in bacon which they deep fry and then serve with a dish of mayonnaise for dipping. My initial thought was bacon and shrimp! I love those. Well, not everything goes together like peanut butter and jelly. It's an acquired taste, to be sure. But hey, you might acquire it. In contrast, the Pan Fried Leek Dumplings were fantastic. Crispy, leeky, tangy. You should definitely get this.

We ordered the Steamed Watercress Su Mai, but they gave us the Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings instead by mistake. I didn't notice until I bit in and found mushroom where watercress should be. It was okay, not amazing, and I was really looking forward to the watercress. Sitting in a wooden steamer tray beneath the vegetarian dumplings (by the way, East Ocean Palace has a huge vegetarian-only menu) were the Royal Steamed Pork Su Mai, Both it and the Hot and Sour Soup were pretty good, but neither blew me away. I still say the best hot and sour soup I've ever had was at Vegetarian Dim Sum House in Chinatown.

For dinner Bro and I ordered two meals to split between us. First, the Fresh Squid with Garlic and Ginger. The squid was very stir fried with dark greens and was very tender. There's always a risk that the squid you will be like chewing on a rubber band and that didn't happen.. It was delicious. We alternated between the squid and the Sauteed Frogs with Vegetables. I must not fit the frog-ordering profile. The waiter's eyebrows went way up. "The frogs? You sure?" I'm sure. Hit me. Actually, I eat frog whenever I see it on a menu. There are two things one needs to know about frog. First, there ain't much meat, so you're usually eating with your fingers to suck on bone. Second, they don't taste like anything you've already had. Or, better described, they tasted like a combo of two things. Like a hybrid of chicken and fish. But unlike bacon-wrapped shrimp, this is one instance where the peanut butter and the jelly go well together.

Dessert isn't even offered, unless you count the orange slices that came with the bill, so have a place in mind when you leave. This meal ended costing $72. Oh, and no tacky fortune cookies, thankfully.

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