I believe in second chances.
So, when I was asked to eat at Jin Ocean, I was more than happy to see what they had to offer.
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Jin Ocean, now in the midst of a rebrand to East Ocean, is a takeaway that was the source of some controversy earlier this year when footage was released that showed rats scurrying around open buckets of raw chicken in the garden at the back of the restaurant.
Naturally, people were disgusted, and in the heat of all this bad publicity, the tearful owner said he was "sorry".
Well, it's all well and good being sorry. The proof is in the pudding.
Or, seeing as I didn't get a pudding, the main course. Yeah, let's go with that.
Wish me luck.
'I thought I'd keep away from the chicken for now'
So, for this rather daring foray into the world of Chinese cuisine, I thought I would get a few different things to really get an idea of the standard of quality that East Ocean are operating at.
I ordered a mixed vegetable fried rice, a tofu in black bean sauce, some salt and pepper chips, a portion of spring rolls, some crispy seaweed, and a pot of the golden elixir, curry sauce.
I thought I'd keep away from the chicken for now.
The food took about 45 minutes to arrive, which is five minutes less than what it predicted on the website.
That's a fair delivery time by anyone's standards. I always feel like if it comes too quick, you question how fresh it is.
I wasn't waiting around forever either, so East Ocean gets full marks for the promptness of their delivery.
But, what was waiting for me inside that bag?
After a quick check for rat droppings (there were none, thankfully), I set about plating up the food.
The smells inside my kitchen were incredible and it would be an understatement to say that I was only a little excited to tuck in.
I got a little bit of everything and sat down to see if East Ocean could redeem themselves after the horror of this summer.
First impressions? Yes, they definitely could.
Where to begin?
The fried rice was nice and flavoursome, a solid base to enjoy everything else from. I appreciated that it hadn't been fried to oblivion as well. Sometimes you get fried rice that's so dry, it feels like you're hoovering up dust.
So far, so good.
The spring rolls were a real treat. One of the big standouts from the order, to be honest. I know some of you might be thinking, 'well it's hard to get them wrong,' but you'd be surprised at how often I've had an underwhelming spring roll.
Sometimes they're not quite crunchy enough and other times they come as tiny little things that have no room for any filling. You know the kind, rock hard dog treats that crackle like burnt glass when you bite into them with a single strip of onion running through the middle.
These were not like that at all. East Ocean's spring rolls were pleasantly crisp and full of tasty filling, and when you dunk it in the curry sauce, well, it's just magic.
The tofu in black bean sauce was another big winner for me.
I think one of the things that had been worrying me given their history, was just how fresh the food at East Ocean was going to be.
Seeing raw food kept outside in the company of rats doesn't exactly fill you with confidence.
But, when I tried this main course, the freshness of it was my first thought.
Fresh and tasty
As well as being very tasty, all of the veg felt incredibly fresh. The peppers were firm and crisp, with none of that horrible soggy veg.
The tofu tasted great, too. And there was a lot of it.
The salt and pepper chips were nice. That's about all I can say on that one.
Again, they're something that it's difficult to get wrong, but I wasn't blown away.
They tasted good, but the chips were a bit soggy. I like a crispier chip in my salt and pepper chips.
But, maybe that's just me. They were saved by being dipped in the curry sauce.
The crispy seaweed was a nice addition and the curry sauce was pretty solid. Not the best curry I've ever had, but nice all the same.
The final verdict
All in all, I was very impressed. For all of the controversy surrounding this restaurant, they know how to make a good meal.
I was charged £25 for the pleasure, which, given the amount I ordered and the size of the portions, wasn't unreasonable.
Sometimes, it takes a bit of adversity for people to really pull their act together, and East Ocean are no different.
Since the damning footage was released, it really seems like they're trying to make amends and prove that they're a reliable takeaway.
While I can't speak for the conditions in which the food was prepared, I can say that the whole meal tasted fantastic and the ingredients all seemed very fresh.
Who knows, maybe they're worth a second chance?
I gave them one, and I wasn't disappointed.
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