300 Lincoln St. (Route 3A), Hingham
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. daily
Full liquor license
All major credit cards
What can be said about a Chinese restaurant menu offering mozzarella sticks and moo goo gai pan, potato skins and pad Thai? However odd the combination, Ocean Kai has been a success since chef and owner Jimmy Chin opened it in 1971.
As a 9-year-old immigrant from Canton, China, Chin grew up in his family's restaurant business, first in Houston and later in New York City, where he tended bar, waited tables, and honed his skills as a chef.
The 110-seat Ocean Kai, which has been renovated recently, has a lively bar scene, dominated by a giant flat-screen TV. There is a small dance area, where a DJ spins on Saturday nights. Friday and Saturday are karaoke evenings, when diners may opt for a special of prime rib and vegetables ($16.95 dine-in only).
Wonton soup is one way I judge the quality of a Chinese restaurant. Ocean Kai's pork wonton soup ($3.25) is a winner; a hearty bowl of rich broth and large chunks of bok choy, carrots, mushrooms, snow peas, and meat.
From a limited listing of American fare, coconut shrimp ($7.25) were sweet and crisp, but the toasted coconut seemed to have been sprinkled on after the shrimp were fried.
Our youngest diner was pleased with a generous portion of chicken fingers ($6.75) and egg rolls ($4.75), which were lightly fried and crisp. Cilantro leaves and red pepper strips made a colorful presentation of six pork shu mai ($5.95). They were delicate and delicious; but the accompanying mustard tasted like a condiment for hot dogs, which, incidentally, are also on the menu.
A sprinkling of soy sauce enhanced the blandness of eight steamed vegetable dumplings ($5.95), while hoisin sauce did likewise for a vegetable lettuce wrap ($5.95).
From a selection of Cantonese ''create your own combination plate" entrees, our carnivorous tablemate chose boneless ribs, chicken chop suey, and pork fried rice ($7.50). It was a retro choice at a retro price. He raved over the ribs and rice, but said the chop suey was too salty. Lobster with ginger and scallion ($16.95) was a bit overpriced, given the hacked up crustacean's size. But it wasn't short on flavor and aroma, as the heat of the ginger and chopped scallions played well against the succulent richness of the moist lobster meat.
Ocean Kai doesn't offer desserts beyond the usual handful of fortune cookies that accompany the bill.
Service was frustrating due to our waiter's English language skills.
In a phone interview, an obliging Chin said he is ''ready to make things to order if a patron requests something not on the menu."