Here we go with the chain restaurant debate again - the restaurant in question in this round is Pearl Castle. For me, I have enjoyed my late-night forays at the Richmond location as the food has always been consistent. I did get to visit their short-lived store out in PoCo which was alright while the newly opened one in Old Orchard Mall is next on my list. In between, I grabbed some eats at their Surrey Central location smack dab in the T&T Supermarket. Now back to the chain restaurant thing... As much as some would like to believe all locations are created equal, that is a pretty dangerous assumption (as this visit will illustrate).
So we started with the Chicken Nuggets which were prepared quite nicely. We found the outer crispy coating was seasoned enough with a salty five spice thing going on. It wasn't particularly peppery though. Inside, the chunks of dark meat were moist without the abundance of chicken skin. Next up, the Squid Tentacles were frankly terrible. Okay, let me backtrack a bit. The batter itself was fried crispy and was easy on the grease. Moreover, similarly to the chicken nuggets, there was enough seasoning as well. The real problem with the dish was with the squid itself. We found it extremely chewy and hard to eat. In fact, it had a texture akin to overcooked octopus (which is almost inedible).
Continuing on with another popular Taiwanese dish, we had the 3 Cup Chicken. Consisting of chopped up chicken thighs, the meat was tender and moist. Flavourwise, we thought it had the right balance of sweet, tart and savoury. Unlike other versions of this dish, it wasn't swimming in grease nor served in a hot pot. To compliment it, we got a plate of the Kimchi Fried Rice (yah, it should've been plain white rice, but we wanted something with more kick). Indeed, the rice did have a notable spiciness that wasn't overwhelming at all. There was decent wok heat which ensured caramelization of flavours. We liked how there was a good amount of kimchi and julienned pork.
Despite looking quite plain, the Spicy Wontons were decent. Beneath the tender wrapper, there was a mix of pork and shrimp that was cooked just enough that their ideal textures were maintained (pork had a rebound while the shrimp had a slight snap). Even with the considerable amount of chili oil at the bottom of the plate, the wontons were not overly spicy. Lastly, we ended off with a complete failure - the Beef Noodles. Boy was this a pathetic attempt. First of all, the soup was pale-looking and greasy. Second, we rather would've been happier with instant soup base rather than this bland, oily and generally unappetizing mess. Third, the chunks of beef were not really all that tender nor succulent. We hated this bowl of noodles and apparently, the table next to us did too as they left it untouched.
Of course we couldn't get out of there without getting some Bubble Teas right? Peppermint and Hales decided to go for Green Apple Slush and Strawberry Milk Slush respectively. These were okay being blended until smooth. They were pretty sweet though with the typical candy-like flavours. Overall, the highs were not enough to make up for the squid and the beef noodles. Those 2 dishes were so bad, it was almost unbelievable for a Tawianese restaurant. It is akin to a steakhouse serving tough overcooked striploin and dry baked potatoes. Not acceptable. Let's see how long this location lasts if they don't get their act together.
- Some okay dishes
- Convenient location
- When the dishes fail, they explode with collateral damage
- Decent service, but with one server at the time, it was not very attentive