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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Chinese, Dim Sum, Seafood
Casual restaurant

Sun–Thu 10:00am–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 9:00am–11:00pm

Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


Bellaire Chinatown
11215 Bellaire Blvd.
Houston, TX
(281) 988-8898
Ocean Palace
A mega-Chinese resaurant that’s not the standard-bearer people make it out to be

Ocean Palace needs to be much better than it is, given the responsibility it carries as an introduction of Chinese cuisine to so many Westerners. At least the setting is legit, if you can brave the blue fountains without losing your appetite: the place has two stories of glorified banquet rooms (fish tank here, obligatory golden dragon there). If you can brave the dim-sum hordes, you’ll be seated upstairs, where a holistic-feeling dome allows beautiful sunlight to shine onto the non-stop movement below. It may all evoke the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, but the food isn’t even close.

How do you control food quality at a place that seats more than two hundred people? You don’t. It’s hard to believe some of the swill that comes out of this kitchen. During its city-famous dim sum—now available on weekdays, as well—dishes come out lukewarm in both temperature and quality. Chong fun (meat or shrimp wrapped in a flat-rice-noodle envelope) is flimsy and lacks even subtle flavor. Barbecued pork buns are stuffed with honey-sweet pork with no savory balance. Almost nothing else coming off the carts has that flavor-forward, punch-you-in-the-mouth taste to it that you expect from Chinese cuisine. For dinner, ordering anything live out of the tank is a good idea. Simple preparations of fish, like flounder steamed just with soy sauce, make for a light, if pricey, meal. Still, you can get a cheaper, better Chinese dinner somewhere else.

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