Saturday, 7 August 2010

Pearl Liang review - the dimsum and lobster noodle stop at Paddington


Address: 8 Sheldon Square, London W2 6EZ
Tel: 020 7289 7000
Nearest Tube station: Paddington

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £30 pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: **
Service: **
Ambience: ***
“You’re late,” she frowned. I looked down, shuffled my feet uncomfortably and mumbled some excuse about the Circle Line breaking down, which wasn’t exactly far from the truth. “We did try calling you but there was no response.” She would have made an excellent primary school head teacher.

I checked my phone and noted that she did call earlier but there was obviously there was no mobile reception in the London Underground.

To give the staff credit, they did find a table for Wife and myself after ten minutes of shuffling around in the main reception. These days, Pearl Liang is getting popular and that can be attributed to Giles Coren write-up on its lobster noodles. Apparently, the chef who was in charge of this dish at Mandarin Kitchen is currently at Pearl Liang.

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We did visit Pearl Liang soon after we touched down in London a couple of years ago and weren’t too impressed by it. I vaguely recalled that its dim sum tasted like those that I could get off the Chinese supermarkets’ shelves. I gave it a wide berth after that and kept closer to central London for my dim sum fix.

Three years later, after reading Coren’s review, we decided to give Pearl Liang a go again. It sure helps that Wife adores a good lobster noodle (something that we can’t seem to find in Singapore). After being sorely disappointed by the one we had at Mandarin Kitchen, which turned out to be ‘sheng mian’ soften by gravy, we were hungry for a decent lobster noodle.

Long story short, it was so good that we dragged HP there soon after.

This time round, we made sure we aren’t late. In fact, we arrived 15min earlier, which says a lot for me. Interestingly, Pearl Liang was considerably quieter that afternoon. It might be that people home catching World Cup matches or the Coren effect has come to pass. Well, as before, we placed an order for the lobster noodles.

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At £32, the dish comes with an entire lobster with enough for three of us. Of course, it’s not meant to be a meal in itself and meant to be supplemented with a couple of other dishes. Perhaps I went with too high an expectation but I found that the gravy was a tad salty, lobster too tough and the accompanying egg noodles less springy compared to the first time round. HP wasn’t impressed by it and I don’t blame her.

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Its yam croquettes’ skin was surprisingly thick. Naturally, with thick skin comes thin fillings.

Pearl Liang’s Shanghai dumplings with pork weren’t too bad. Their thin skin somehow held on to the soup within - a feat indeed.

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The king prawn cheongfun was fine until HP discovered that one of the prawns come with its tail shell attached. An unwarranted oversight really. That said, the freshness of the prawns was apparent. After first sampling fried dough cheongfun at Hakkasan, we made it a point to order the same dish at every dim sum meal that we had thereafter. That didn’t disappoint as well.

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We made the mistake of ordering Singapore Fried vermicelli (£6.80). I should have known better. Anything with ‘Singapore’ attached to it would invariably turn out badly. I’m not sure why but I suppose it comes with certain expectations. This particular dish comprised of dried tossed fried rice vermicelli with small shrimps and bean sprouts, liberally sprinkled with a mild curry powder. Frankly it looked like an experiment went wrong. It might be the MSG in it but we did manage to finish the dish – after downing gallons of tea.

I was told that the two must try Chinese dishes in London are the roast duck (see Four Seasons) and lobster noodles. While I question whether it’s worth your while trekking all the way down to Paddington station for a dim sum cum lobster noodles feast at Pearl Liang, it should definitely be your last stop if you are heading back to Heathrow Airport via Paddington station. Well, the fact that most dim sum dishes come below £3 counts as a plus too.

Pearl Liang on Urbanspoon

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5 comments:

Wild Boar said...

Is London (or Cantonese food in general) famous for lobster noodles? I never thought about it, but now I don't recall having lobster noodles in Malaysia before.

C K said...

@Wild Boar,
That's what I heard. Lobster noodles and roast duck are well known in London. Funnily, visitors from back home usually go straight for these dishes whenever they are in town.

Tom said...

It is interesting as when I went there with Mr Noodles ordering we really had a pretty good meal. This is even with some experience out in HK and trying much better stuff.

Actually one of the most reckoned places here (Lei Garden) wasn't a patch on Pearl Liang!

C K said...

@Tom,
Just curious, what did you guys order? I must say that I was more impressed the previous time I was there. Interestingly, I ordered exactly the same items save for the Singapore noodles.

Tom said...

CK - the standard selection of yum cha - fried/ steamed etc. We had the advantage that there was a big group of us so we could go a bit crazy. I always find that helps so any duds are put to one side.

You didn't get the fried custard desert?! That was what really rocked my world