Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Bean Curd: Ocean Sky Restaurant

Eggplant Garlic PhotoDon't even start with me, Eugene transplants, and your whining about a lack of good Chinese. I don't want to hear it and I also don't care, because I, my friends, have found love, twu wuv, at Ocean Sky Restaurant.

Well, OK, I've found the sibling of twu wuv, because my heart's first desire is Ocean Sky's sibling restaurant in Corvallis, King Tin (more on that place when my Corvallis Correspondent pipes up). Ocean Sky, however, does some very tasty things very well -- and in enormous portions. Say good-bye to that old problem of feeling hungry again an hour after polishing off your Chinese take-out; this place will offer enough food to get you through a night of every-hour feedings, and you'll probably still have some rice left the next morning.

So what you're probably getting here is the heart of the matter: this isn't the Chinese restaurant you go to when you want a wide variety of different-tasting dishes, tenderly prepared by a caring chef who agonizes over the details. That restaurant -- no, it doesn't exist in Eugene. But Ocean Sky does, and it's the one you go to when you have a general desire for "Chinese food," and want to satisfy it as briskly and completely as possible. Some call this mediocre; I call it "what are we doing for dinner tonight?" (Yes, our love is based on low expectations. What can I say? I'm that kind of girl).

My current favorite at Ocean Sky is the Eggplant in Garlic Sauce. The eggplant is fried nearly beyond incorporation in a brown, garlicky sauce that has a little hint of spice. The sauce is thick and salty, nearly too much so, but mixed with their fried rice with egg, it's very, very tasty. Pictured at right after I'd already eaten my fill, it's also a meal that makes for what C calls "possibly the best leftovers ever," when topped with a fried plain wonton or two.

The guys (the meat-eaters) that I travel with are partial to a couple of their meaty dishes: I've now seen three of them sing the praises of the Hunan Beef, which I'm led to believe is not only tasty but tender. Ho-hum, beef: Let's talk about their tofu.

While King Tin makes a sweet-and-sour breaded fried tofu that I will, someday, write enormously emotional song lyrics about, Ocean Sky also does a fair trade in bean curd, both fried and not. I've enjoyed their Family Style Bean Curd, which comes with fried sticks of tofu among a jumble of vegetables (cabbage and soft-fried onions are primary). I've also enjoyed their Kung Pow Tofu, which has non-fried, diced blocks of firm tofu in the predictable semi-spicy sauce. These dishes have all been tasty and surprisingly filling, and they've all had tons and tons of tofu, not just a few pieces thrown in later. Thanks, Ocean Sky, for that.

The setting is strange: it reminds me of some truck-stop restaurants of my youth, where the floor plan is very open save for one room blocked off with an accordion-folding wall. You eat in vinyl booths, and depending on the hour of the day, you'll either eat in near-complete silence or amongst the hustle and bustle of the wait staff trying to check out hurried take-out customers while darting back and forth with gigantic armloads of food. Don't even bother ordering a soda; stick with their bland hot tea and quickly refilled water.

Tableful of food
For me, the two main reasons to go to Ocean Sky are the portion sizes (amazing) and the vegetarian menu (solid). You're going to pay about $10 a dish, but that comes down to about $3 a meal for me -- since I can't resist ordering the plain fried wontons, we've actually had leftovers hanging around in the fridge all week. It's not a buffet, but -- as you can see from our table -- it kind of feels like one.

Location: 1601 Chambers Street

Hours: Not sure, but thanks to Eugene Weekly, I'll say: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.; Friday: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday: noon to 10:30; Sunday: noon to 9:30 p.m.
Ocean Sky on Urbanspoon


  1. I have noticed a scarcity of the food item known as "crab rangoon" in the Midwest. Does Ocean Sky have something like that?

  2. In fact I believe they do. If you order the non-plain fried wontons, I think that's what you get. (I may have tried one).

  3. Mmm..Ocean Sky. But yes, King Tin is best. As the Corvallis Correspondent, I suppose I can wrangle some words together in that direction. At least, I think I'm the Corvallis Correspondent. Heh.

    I guess I should go eat there today and have something different. Woo! I needed a reason to go out to eat today.

  4. You are in fact the Corvallisier I was counting on.

  5. Okay, so Greg and I went tonight to try it out. The Orange Chicken was not good, but the Veggie Mu Shi with pancakes may have been a thing of legend.

  6. I have eaten at ocean and the items are hit or miss. The Veggie Mu Shu is wonderful. However my last visit there a month ago was my last. I ordered the veggie chow fun and some veggie pot stickers. The pot stickers were stuffed with mashed potatoes. They were gummy on the outside and pasty on the inside with no flavor. Absolutely foul. I ate 1/2 of one and decided it just was not worth it to try any more. My main course was the veggie chow fun. This was inedible. The noodles were so gummy they stuck together in a big wad covered with a bland white sauce and some really pathetic veggies. The central glob of noodles were still crunchy and undercooked. I picked out a few broccoli crowns and snow peas and left the rest. For really great consistently good Chinese food I go to Lotus Garden- best veggie pot stickers EVER!

  7. We go to Ocean Sky often, I also love the eggplant in garlic sauce and the hunan beef and hunan chicken are favorites of my family. My s/o also loves their fried prawns.

  8. The service at Ocean Sky has never been great, but tonight, it crossed into appalling. Please don't bother. They are dozens of other equally mediocre Chinese restaurants in town.