Friday, July 22, 2011

East Ocean, Chinatown

I think I'm falling out of love. It's taken less than two weeks for the glow of my new camera love to become slightly tarnished. You see, the first few times the camera and I dined together were on sunshiny days, with loads of natural light beaming through the windows and illuminating my photos to perfection. For the first time ever I felt like that perhaps I could actually take a decent photo. 

How quickly that all unravelled when the BFF and I took the camera for a night-time outing to East Ocean. I actually thought most of the photos looked okay when I looked at them on the display screen; it wasn't until I got home and loaded them onto the computer that I saw how truly awful they really were. The vast majority of them were blurry, and I mean really blurry, or dark. Oh how my little heart was breaking. Why is my DSLR betraying me like this? What had I ever done to it, except for by it new lenses, as well  as a lovely new camera bag, and love it like I would box of Adriano Zumbo macarons!

In hindsight I think I had the F Stop set too high at f/1.8 (as I thought that is what you did in dim lighting). I was also too close to the food for most of the photos making everything out of focus and something “not quite right” was happening with the ISO. Looks like it's back to the beginners classes for me. I've fiddled around with most of the photos here, trying to lighten them up in Picassa – so hopefully they look somewhat decent.

Now, enough whingeing about the photos (or my retarded camera - I know I know, "a bad workman blames his tools, blah blah blah" but I'm not falling for that line...this had nothing to do with me and my inabilities) and on to waxing lyrical about the food at the epically huge Chinatown restaurant, East Ocean

Not surprisingly we were dining out on another one of my meal deal vouchers – this one was for a Peking Duck Pancake and San Choi Bow banquet for just $38 to 2 people. Best of all the BFF and I each got to eat three entire Peking duck pancakes to ourselves – oh, I was in heaven!

The meals starts with a pot of jasmine tea, which was really welcomed on this horrible wet, windy and rainy night. The deal actually included two glasses of wine (as well as the tea) and the wait staff couldn't believe it when we told them we didn’t want to drink the wine, "but it's free" they kept telling us over and over again.  In hindsight I should've guzzled both glasses and maybe my photos would've turned out better?  Hindsight...isn't it a bitch.

Next, a huge plate of prawn crackers comes towards us – looks like there's more food to this deal than I had expected, excellent!

But who can think about prawn crackers when the fixings of Peking Duck Pancakes come marching towards you? Not me that is for sure.

Probably the funniest thing about the evening was the waiter arriving at our table with six side plates (in addition to the bowl and plate we already had) and proceeding to slowly make the pancakes for us – each pancake receiving its own plate. Our table became very crowded very quickly – which just meant we had to eat faster.

The pancakes were lovely, fatty slivers of crispy skinned duck nestled on a warm pancake accompanied by Spring Onions and Hoisin Sauce.  These really have to be one of the most sinfully delicious foods on the planet.

Next course is a Duck San Choi Bow.  We just get one lettuce cup each, but it is overflowing with filling – so much so that we need to eat most of it before we can roll the lettuce cup up for eating.

Just when we think the meal is over the waiter delivers a small plate of cut fruit, and another plate that has some delicate cakes and pastries on it.

Although I've had fruit to end a meal at a Chinese restaurant before this is the first time I've ever been served cakes.  One cake is a pastry with a red bean filling - delicious, and the other a small biscuit dotted with sesame filling.  Both were lovely and sweet, and I loved how they were "just bite sized"...enough for a sugar hit without feeling too guilty about it. 

Now we weren't starving after our dinner, but I was feeling a tad...greedy, so we marched up to the QVB in the pouring rain and ducked into Nazimi for a quick Agedashi Tofu and some sushi.

East Ocean is at 421 Sussex Street, Haymarket.

East Ocean on Urbanspoon


  1. I can see what you mean about the close up shots of food. Don't fret though. I still make a mess all the time. That picture of diners dining in the restaurant is pretty amazing!! You are doing awesome!

    Seriously??? He laid out 6 side plates for the two of you?? I cannot imagine the look on your faces. You must have had a hoot!lol

  2. the photos look fine, some u didnt focus at the right spot thus it looks blurry. adult shop!!!! im going there this sat (not the adult shop mind u) nazimi :)

  3. Yum PEKING DUCK!!

    Hey listen -- your photos actually look good considering low restaurant lights. You could manipulate them a bit in basic photo editing suites; even adjusting the colour cast so the whites are white.

    The F stop was probably fine -- just need to set you ISO & shutter speed differently in low light!!

    You should have different white balance settings on your DSRL you can select as well.

    Lemme know if you want me to show you a couple things (not that I am ANY expert AT ALL...I just live next door hhaha).

  4. I think your photos are pretty good considering that it was dark - maybe use a longer shutter speed? Plus Photoshop ;) And I can't believe you had a second meal after that yummy duck.

  5. your photos look good enough to it possible to go wrong with peking duck? It would look good in the dark , on a train in the rain....

  6. I love Peking duck. I think your photos still look excellent. Lol, it's good to feel greedy sometimes.

  7. i may be blind but they look ok to me :) good old photo editing hey!
    the food looks delish.

  8. Hehe I will throw my 2 cents in as well.

    Your photos don't look nearly as bad as you think! It may help next time to focus on the part of the dish that is closest to you... But it's also true the depth of field is very shallow.

    2 ways you can fix this next time: use a narrower f-stop - eg. f2.8 or f4. (I read somewhere that the 35mm is sharpest at f5.6). However if it is lowlight, this may introduce a bit of camera shake... so you may have to bump up the ISO value to compensate.

    The second way you can fix this next time is to take the photos from a slightly higher angle.
    Your photo of the duck pancakes are almost side on, which is why only a narrow slice of the image is in focus.

    If you think about it, the "flatter" you make your subject, the more will be the right distance away from your lens to be in focus. Sometimes I find I have to stand up to get the right angle!

    I made you a lil diagram!

    Flat on from the top is the way to get it the most in focus, but can be boring... so go for a balance between "more" and "most"

    Hope that helps?


  9. The photos didn't turn out that bad! Mmmm peking duck craving right now...

  10. That's why it's better to eat out at lunch. Agree with the others, good photos anyway. I went to East Ocean once with a big bunch of friends, it's good but a bit overpriced I think.

  11. I'm surprised you haven't started calling it my camera when things go wrong and your camera when everything is great...

  12. Your photos are really nice, you have done a great job in post production to lighten them nicely without losing any detail.

    You have just discovered the compromise between f-stops and depth of field. Your blur is not due to movement it is due to having a narrow depth of field which comes from the 1.8 f-stop. If you bumped up the ISO and used a 2.8 f-stop you would have more in focus.

    Using a 50mm lens I can also hold the camera without shake at a shutter speed of 20 so perhaps altering the shutter speed as well could help.

    All in all great photo's, I agree with crunchy tiger. The item closest to the camera needs to be what is in focus.

    Happy shooting and eating!

  13. Your photos are not that bad at all! Don't be disheartened! Just tweak the f-stop and ISO a little!
    Sometimes I feel my screen shows the photo much better than on the computer.

  14. What are you crazy? These photies are wonderful - bokeh-licious! A trick I found is to take pics at a couple of different f stops - on my crappy camera f1.7 makes the food look the scrummiest but not much is in focus, f3.5 is a good compromise.

  15. Your pics are not too bad, don't despair. You just used too narrow a depth of field so too much of the photo is out of focus.

    You didn't have much to eat did you? LOL

  16. I think your photos look great! You've edited them really well too, and you've been given lots of good tips here :)
    Although I echo Joey - that doesn't seem like much food! Haha.

  17. Haha, don't think of it as two dinners - think of it as a two-part dinner!

  18. Oh I saw that voucher! Should have got it :( looks awesome! I love the desserts - anything sesame and I'm in heaven!


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