OCEANA: Asians eat at the back… How RACIST!!!

Dear Food Diary:
Walked into the blue dominated, cruise like Oceana last Sunday for lunch. Perfectly lit by natural sunlight, spacious with high ceilings. We had reservations from days ago and since this was midtown west on a Sunday, it wasn’t crowded at all. The 2 ladies in the front asked for our reservation and one quickly decides our table “location”… and off we went.

There were comfortable looking booths with marine themed tapestry couches along the way, I though we were being taken to. But as we followed the hostess further and further away, by passing an seemingly empty main dining room (about 40% full with non asians, maybe one asian mixed into a all white table), she opens a door and enter “the other” dining room. My first reaction was that of an “color blind” customer. Thought to myself, maybe this is more quiet or private!? Even though it looked so plain.

It wasn’t until my date had also noticed that we took a good look around. It was way too obvious and I had to that a picture, even though I don’t usually whip out my camera on a date. So the waiter didn’t capture the dining area on my right, behind me… there were 2 more tables of asians. While the main dining room outside looked really white (sorry I don’t mean it that way, but I’m trying to make a point here, so don’t get all sensitive on me please)… maybe we didn’t match the blue and white color scheme of the decor?

From my seat I could see the empty tables outside, with comfortable looking couches, empty  with no one to sit on. We were tempted to ask for another table, or make a non-friendly remark (you know me, I couldn’t resist) but we figured, this is where they thought we belonged and we didn’t want to mess with the people who had the power to spit in our food. Yes, we could of walked out, but for the most part, we were shocked and in disbelief. Or just making up reasons, like maybe we weren’t dressy enough? or we didn’t specify to sit in the main dining room when making our reservation? or we were magically transported to Chinatown? This sure was an experience. Honesty, you can’t tell me this was all just a “coincidence” and we were just too sensitive. I might be naive sometimes, but I don’t buy that!

Ok, now to the food, because I’m a food blogger darn it! and I have to be professional in any circumstance. Ok, so we did the Restaurant Week Menu (sorry guys, no photo).

Scallop Sashimi with peach chutney. The scallops were fresh and naturally sweet, tender and delicate. The peach chutney was a little too dulce for me, so I ate around it. Overall a nice light  summer dish, the herbs gave it a nice fresh touch. 
Chilled Seafood Salad had shrimp, fish and squid with olives and pesto vinaigrette. Good and simple but nothing to be drooling about. 

Chilled Poached Skate with marinated zucchini strips that reminded me of a sunny day at the farmers market. Topped with a chili-fennel vinaigrette. A colorful presentation of white, yellow and green. The skate bones were removed, nice firm pieces of delicate fish, topped with a salad. I liked the tender fish with the fragrant pine nuts in each bite with hints of fennel and citrus. 
Grilled Bluefish was a tough in texture for me. Beefsteak tomatoes a la plancha was good, but I hate to see good ingredients being overworked, summer tomatoes are best raw in my opinion. The olive tapenade was a little too salty. 

Red Wine Plum Popover was good. The creme fraiche mousse presentation was pedestrian at best, but looks aside, the cabernet crumbs sounded better on paper, but never delivered any wine flavor, nor did the red wine plum. But overall a sweet, tangy dessert that I enjoyed for the most part. Nice textures. The popover was so buttery, it would make Paula Deen blush, in a good way of course.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Parfait had an amazing buttermilk granite, refreshing yet slightly creamy and playful on my tongue. The rest of the components had a more peanut butter taste, sort of like a giant deconstructed peanut butter cup. Had some chocolate and cream. A nice sweet treat for kids of all ages. 
P.S. Chubby’s RATING:   (For FOOD)

Food wise, this was one of the better Summer Restaurant Week experiences so far. But, I can’t help my sensitive Asian side from feeling discriminated. Even my tastebuds felt a little hurt and mad. I’ve seen Avenue Q and I know everyone is a little bit racist but this was too obvious. Food blogger or not, this is beyond, surely NOT A COINCIDENCE that ALL the Asians were placed in the back when the rest was so empty. Sure, service wasnt bad and at the end of the meal the dining rooms got mixed, but we were there for a good 2 hrs in the Asian only dining room at the back and that was enough. I ain’t coming back.


120 West 49th St
Oceana on Urbanspoon
This post got picked up by some NY blogs, number of forums, yelp and…. 
Eater.com (where the GM issued a letter *rolling eyes*)
MidtownLunch Part 2

In case your wondering how the MAIN DINING ROOM looks like, and you tell me if that back room would be anyone’s “preferred” seating.