Not having had dim sum in a long time, I organised a lunch at Pearl Liang this past Monday for me, Blai and my brother, who was visiting us last weekend. I’d been to this excellent Cantonese restaurant three times for banquet dinners for work but never been myself for what I’d heard was some terrific dim sum.
Here’s a rundown of what we ate:
Yam Croquette, also known as wu kok. This came quite quickly and it was fresh from the fryer. A thin layer of yam paste (which fries up all flaky on the surface) encased a tasty meaty filling – this is one of the best renditions I’ve had in London.
Fried Octopus Cakes. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this – what arrived was a fried cake of octopus/fish paste. Its texture was wonderfully bouncy and there was a good octopus flavour – gorgeous!
King Prawn Cheung Fun. Very nice though I thought the rice sheet could have been a little smoother. But it’s hard to complain when they stuff it with this many king prawns! The sweet soy sauce is poured onto the dish at the table.
Barbecued Pork Cheung Fun. As above, very good.
Pan Fried Turnip Cake, aka loh bak goh. This is also one of my absolute favourites – a steamed daikon radish and rice flour cake is sliced and then pan fried. These usually have some barbecued pork bits and dried prawns in the mixture (a plain version is used as the basis of chai tow kueh). In this excellent version, it was nice to encounter nice large shreds of daikon within.
Prawn Dumplings, or har gow. Large juicy prawns featured within this dumpling – very very nice. One of my must-orders!
Mini Sticky Rice with Mixed Meat in Lotus Leaf. I expected this to have the usual filling of minced meat and perhaps some salted egg yolk. However, I was surprised to see a very generous filling of all this and a whole king prawn too!
Monks Vegetable Dumpling. We wanted to try one of the vegetarian items and so ordered this. I felt though that this was the least successful dumpling – is corn normally used?
Pork Shu Mai. Weirdly enough, this is not one of my favourites as I always thought it a bit dull but it’s one of those dim sum dishes that you just have to order. There was so much prawn in each sui mai, it was actually a bit difficult telling where the pork was. Nice!
Fried Dough Cheung Fun. We wanted another cheung fun! The fried dough is what I know as yau char kway and the cruller is wrapped in the steamed rice sheet. This must be eaten immediately or else you lose that contrast between soft, silky cheung fun and crispy yet tender fried dough. I like it but my favourite is still that with the prawns!
Shanghai Dumplings with Pork, or xiao long bao. The skins were a little thicker than those at Leong’s Legends but this was not necessarily a bad thing – for one thing, I was actually able to pick my dumpling up without piercing it and losing all that wonderful soup. We slurped the soup and downed the dumplings – delicious.
Baked Egg Tarts, aka dan tat. We had to have something sweet at the end! Great flaky pastry and a smooth set egg custard – it was a fine end to the meal.
After we finished eating, we were puzzled when the waitress suddenly had us hold up our teacups so she could roll up the tablecloth – were we being kicked out? But no, she was just taking off the dirty top layer so we could relax with the nice clean cloth below! Of course, we pretty much cracked up at the sight of it as all the tea that was spilled had seeped through, rendering the bottom cloth just as stained as the top! And they didn’t chase us out and let us relax over our tea. The biggest surprise was when the bill arrived (when we asked! Not just plonked down!). Our total with tea (£1 per person) and service charge came to exactly £36.70. That’s just about £12 a person!
It definitely wouldn’t hurt to book a table – I booked through the system on their site, which even sends a confirmation text message to your phone almost instantaneously.
8 Sheldon Square
London W2 6EZ