Monday, January 23, 2012

Lunar New Year Dinner with Friends at China Pearl

Recently, a few friends and I have been celebrating Lunar New Year together. Last year, we were kind of disappointed by our meal. But this year, the Feisty Foodie picked a place that she was much more familiar with. Yes, China Pearl. The tried and true place that the Feisty Family likes to patron. I was more than happy to finally try it. So with the Feisty Foodie, TC, Nommables, and friends, we ate and ate.

When I arrived, I knew the decor would be sparse as most Cantonese places are. It reminded me of my childhood though. Hole in the wall type places that serve up good food. I was down for the meal to come.

As tradition goes, we ordered way too much food. But we had to meet the 8 or 9 dishes to make it auspicious. Yeah, yeah. Superstition runs wild with Asian holidays.

And so, I felt like I bascially took the reigns with ordering mainly because I was pretty familiar with the type of food and also because my language skills were the best out of the group.

After I ordered, the food started coming out. Cantonese food is usually served family style and come out as they are cooked. There is no pacing. You just sit and eat. And talk when your mouth isn't full.

First up, the honey walnut shrimp. This is something I grew up with. The flash fried shrimp is served with broccoli and honey walnuts. There is usually a sauce of mayo that coats the shrimp. But they served it on the side at this restaurant. You can dip as little or as much (like FF) as you like. I personally enjoy it more when it's already coated but the shrimp remains crunchy. In this version, I thought the shrimp was kind of dry and the walnuts not sweet enough. But I did like how big the actual shrimp were and they gave us plenty.
Next, my choice of fried tofu. A lot of people think tofu is gross. But I love it. I think tofu served Asian style is really tasty. This version is one of my favorites. It's deep fried with a small shrimp on top. There is a dip on the side which is soy sauce and chilies. It's salty and spicy at the same time. I like that the tofu remained crispy through the end.
With all the protein that we ordered, best to balance it out with some vegetables. Here are snow pea shoots stir fried with garlic. I always order this because it's really difficult to make this at home mainly due to the quality of pea shoots you can't get at the supermarket. If you sit in a restaurant during the day, you will see the workers slowly pluck the tenderest pea shoot leaves off to save. I don't know what they do with the rest but it's a lot of work for some delicious vegetables.
And since it will be the year of the dragon, I ordered lobsters. One would have been enough for us but I was always taught to order in pairs. So 2 lobsters served with ginger and scallion. Mmm, I love this style. I think they coat the lobster in a light batter and deep fry it before cooking it more with the ginger and scallions. The lobsters that they used were quite big and meaty. There was more than enough for everyone at the table. I housed down my pieces since lobster is one of my most favorite things to eat.
And the Peking style pork shops. These sweet and sour pork chops are deep fried then coated in a sticky sauce. Again, another dish that I grew up with. Unfortunately, they didn't serve it with shrimp chips. Oh well. The dish itself was okay. It wasn't remarkable nor bad. Just a mediocre version. Also, the addition of tomato and pineapple was new to me.
As I was taught, you can't celebrate without chicken. You must always have chicken even if it is your only protein. So we ordered fried garlic chicken. Unfortunately, it wasn't that great. There wasn't copious amounts of fried garlic on top and the meat was dry. I think they took an already cooked chicken and fried it making it double cooked losing its moisture in the process. They could have hid it more with lots of garlic but they were skimpy on that.
Also as tradition goes, you must have fish for good luck and fortune. We ordered a steamed flounder served with soy sauce, ginger, and scallions. The meat was tender and juicy. I liked it! We basically ate all of it which speaks loudly about how much we enjoyed it. Clean and fresh.

Note: Don't ever flip the fish in order to get to the meat underneath. Instead, filet the bone/spine out to expose the other side. If you can't do this, ask the waiter to do it.
For our noodles representing long life, we had beef ho fun with gravy. The version at China Pearl gave us a lot of gravy which made for difficult scooping and eating with chopsticks. But those with better chopstick skills prevailed. Hahaha!! They were also pretty good with the amount of beef they offered. I enjoyed this dish and would order it again.
Overall, I was happy with my meal. Obviously some dishes were better than others but I wouldn't mind going back unless they keep adding up our bill wrong. Hahaha! Honest mistake which they corrected. The bill was $150+ dollars which is a good deal consider the amount and the size of the dishes. We had no problem finishing most of it.

Happy Lunar New Year to all my friends, family, and readers!

China Pearl
82-22 45th Avenue
Elmurst, NY 11373

5 comments:

  1. Looks delicious! Sorry I missed it (again). Happy New Year!

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  2. mmm, Happy New Year!

    no salt & pepper pork chops this time? those were good.

    I enjoyed it when it was called High Pearl. haha

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  3. It was yummy. I came there with just those expectations (meaning I didn't come there hoping for anything new or exciting) and thoroughly enjoyed my meal :)

    Everything was, to my knowledge, very well executed.

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  4. Definitely some dishes I was disappointed with, but as I mentioned, the dishes I liked the least were dishes I never order there ;)

    I usually see the shrimp chips with the chicken, not with the pork chops. Haven't ordered the pork chops in a while here but that and the "Chinese style steak" both come with pineapple and tomato (and I'm the only one who eats them, haha).

    Regarding the chopstick skills... :P

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  5. Phew. I'm wasn't the only one with bad chopstick skillz at the table that night and didn't splash any food on others so win!!

    I enjoyed the pork chops and shrimp just fine. Not the best versions ever but it was decent. I usually prefer no gravy with my ho fun. The garlic chicken was definitely too dry.

    Very glad I did Lunar New Year dinner with everyone this year. Prosperous New Year to all!!

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