Friday, January 17, 2014

Pearl Liang

I guess it shouldn't be so surprising that I haven't tried that many of the restaurants around my office despite not loving the cafeteria in our building. Something something trying to eat healthier and being cheap to my core about my food, I usually bring my lunch as much as possible now and when I do buy lunch it's usually something cheap and fast, like Pret a Manger or maybe Itsu, the sushi place that lacks seaweed salad.

In any case, the Chinese restaurant in the amphitheater below our offices, called Pearl Liang, had come up many times in conversations with colleagues. Everyone said it was incredible, even its dim sum. I was skeptical. Up until this point all my Chinese food experience in London had been alright...not great, and particularly expensive. So I wasn't so inclined to try it.

One late day after work, however, I was supposed to meet up with Two and Olive for dinner before we all set off for our winter holidays. I asked if it would be alright if they came to me since I didn't really want to go to somewhere more central in the city just to go home afterwards. Not after all the work. So I suggested we go to Pearl Liang. Right outside my office, and an excuse to try it with other people. Two birds, one stone.

We sat down, ordered a bottle of Spanish red wine (this has become a custom with them, which I love), and then decided on the shared several course meal. Hey, if you're gonna try a restaurant, you might as well actually try the restaurant. To its fullest.

Silly enough this was the only picture I got during the entire meal. Wine makes me forget what I am doing. And the food was actually pretty good, though not what I would consider traditionally Chinese. The plate you see above was our starter course (of many). It had (from top, going clockwise): prawn purses, deep fried soft shell crab, crispy seaweed, and a chicken lettuce wrap.

Strangely the best thing on this place was the crispy seaweed salad. It's like someone had shredded strips of teriyaki nori and then added peanuts or something to give it even more crunch. The taste was fabulous.

The slew of dishes that came afterward were steak and mushrooms (surprisingly thick and confusingly tough cubes of steak, though the mushrooms were fabulous), a spicy chicken dish, noodles of some kind and...

The rest of the meal goes quite fuzzy actually. Consequence of the long work hours and the bottle of wine, no doubt.

In any case my conclusion about the place: good, but not traditional. Expensive for what it is. I think with the wine and dinners split we ended up paying something like £40 each. it was a multi-course meal, sure, but that's pricey for Chinese food. I will likely not come again unless there's a good reason. Just far too expensive to keep up.

Next door a burrito place is opening up and I've been named the burrito deity for my floor. I'm supposed to try it and determine how authentic and good it is, since I'm the only person in the office who has lived close to Mexico. We'll see how this goes. So far though, the amphitheater restaurants are only so-so. Expensive at worst, but flavorful at least.

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