Ocean Sky Restaurant
1601 Chambers St
Eugene, OR
(541) 342-4848

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Eugenified.com rating: 1 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 5

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Anyone who knows anything about Chinese food has heard of oyster sauce. It’s a very basic sauce that is used frequently in Cantonese food, but it’s also a staple in most other regional variations of Chinese food. The key is to use oyster sauce as a minimal base (and thickening agent) while adding some other spices to bring da flavor. Well, apparently, the head chef at Ocean Oyster Sauce Sky missed that day of cooking class. Now, if this was a network TV sitcom, the wacky hijinks would shortly thereafter ensue. This is not a network TV sitcom.

Let’s cut to the chase with this one. Every single dish at Oyster Sauce Sky is made with oyster sauce. Usually in a ratio of 75:25, i.e. 75% oyster sauce and 25% meat/veggies. If you like oyster sauce, then this is the place for you. It’s oystersautabulous! (Copyright 2009, Eugenified.com) Because of this oyster-sauce-centric thinking, all of the dishes at Oyster Sauce Sky look nearly identical. If you think I’m exaggerating (moi?!), take a gander at the wall of sixty or so 8×10′ menu photos near the cash register. As your eyes glaze over, your brain may briefly note that every one of the dishes is a brownish gray glutenous pile with something else added. You can’t tell from the picture what the something else is, so you’ll have to read the name of the dish to solve this little mystery.

Illustrative Anecdote: While jogging on Fern Ridge Path, I once saw a 900 gallon tanker truck of oyster sauce back up to Oyster Sauce Sky and hook up a fire hose to pump oyster sauce into the kitchen. After the 900 gallon sauce pumping was complete, the driver of the truck stepped out of the vehicle to reverently deliver one tiny ziplock baggy of Five Spice powder. So…yeah…I guess that pretty much proves they use tons of oyster sauce and very little other seasoning. (The preceding anecdote was false and used for illustrative purposes only).

Other issues: The main dishes at Oyster Sauce Sky are reasonably priced especially when you consider that the serving plates are the size of large trash can lids. But probably it would make more sense to compare the price of each dish versus 2.5 bottles of retail oyster sauce. And even in that respect, they are reasonably priced. Although it seems like the restaurant would only break even since the price of 2.5 bottles of oyster sauce is about the same as one platter of food at Oyster Sauce Sky. Probably the restaurant gets a discount on oyster sauce when they buy 900 gallons, so they can still make a profit. Bankruptcy averted.

With all of this oyster sauce talk, I should point out that oyster sauce often contains MSG, especially the 900 gallon bulk oyster sauce that restaurants tend to use. So when they claim “No MSG” on the menu or on the little sign by the door, what they might really mean is:

“No MSG added by our direct staff, but there might actually be plenty of MSG in the oyster sauce, but since we did not put it there, we can claim ignorance, and anyways, MSG makes you feel like everything tastes great, plus all you hypochondriacs who claim you are allergic to MSG are really just coddled infants, and we will prove it to you by surreptitiously slipping MSG into your food, and then we’ll see if you really are allergic to MSG or just a big baby.”

They probably don’t print that on the menus or the little signs by the door since it would be so difficult to fit so many words.

Service: Have you ever been to state-owned factory canteen in mainland China in the late 1980’s? Well, then you know what the service is like at Oyster Sauce Sky. It’s bad. Really bad. They often do the famous “place food on the table while looking in the other direction to convey their disdain for this manual labor” move. You can do a similar move when you leave them their 5% tip, although the irony may not be fully evident to them.

Oyster Sauce Sky is often compared with Lok Yaun as the worst large-scale Chinese restaurant in Eugene (Tom’s Tea House “wins” hands down among small-scale Chinese restaurants), but really, it is not a fair comparison. One of them is selling bulk oil (Lok Yaun) while the other is selling bulk oyster sauce (Oyster Sauce Sky…come to think of it, they really chose their name wisely…can’t accuse them of false advertising). So let’s just say they both excel at what they do.

Summary: If you want to buy bulk oyster sauce, then Oyster Sauce Sky is the place to go. Plus they offer giant servings delivered to your table with a disturbing air of malcontent. What else could you ask for?!

Eugenified.com rating: 1 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 51 vote, average: 2.00 out of 5

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