Posted by Sherman Chan on Saturday, April 2, 2016
Honestly, I wasn't overly excited about doing a re-visit to Pearl Castle situated in the Continental Plaza in Richmond. Don't get me wrong, I actually like the food and overall experience at this location. Compared to the Burnaby and Surrey spots, this one is the most consistent. However, I had just done a ChineseBites event last year! Well, Emily (Miss Vancouver Piggy) wasn't at that event and wanted to go to Pearl Castle via ChineseBites. If you've been paying attention, she doesn't take no for an answer very well... Hence, we were going to Pearl Castle... along with 2 willing participants in Inner Fat Girl and Brit.
I think Emily ordered almost all of the appetizers including the Fried Chicken Thigh. Yes, the dish was simply a de-boned deep-fried chicken thigh. Simple as it may have been, it was money. Succulent, juicy and well-seasoned on the inside while lightly crispy in spots on the outside, there wasn't much to dislike about it. On the flipside, the Fried Squid Tentacles were not as successful. There was nothing inherently wrong about its preparation since the salty batter was crispy and not too greasy. However, the tentacles were a bit too chewy for our liking. It didn't seem to be overcooked, so maybe they needed to be tenderized?
Accompanied by a grass jelly dessert, the plate of Kimchi Fried Rice was rather substantial. Although a tad on the wetter side (but forgiveable due to the use of kimchi), the rice was still kissed with enough wok heat. Hence, the flavours were impactful with caramelization and spiciness in addition to the classic kimchi tang. On the topic of classic, we also had the veritable Taiwanese Beef Noodle featuring the wide flat noodles (which were nicely al dente). Rather than using brisket, they employed beef rib meat which was soft, fatty and well-seasoned (with definite 5-spice hits). As for the soup, it was more natural-tasting than being full-flavoured. Hence, there was a meatiness to it, yet somewhat too mild for my tastes.
Back to the deep-fried appies, we had the Fried Chicken Nuggets. These large chunks of leg meat were juicy and succulent while seasoned well enough that it didn't need to rely on the batter. About that batter, it was thick enough to be firmly crunchy while not hard. There was a good balance of salt and white pepper as well as a dusting of 5-spice. The best fried item of the bunch was the Deep-Fried Mushrooms. Lightly battered and perfectly executed, the mushrooms were firm yet buttery and bouncy at the same time. The exterior was not greasy and was well-seasoned being salty and peppery.
With one more fried dish, we has their wonderful Red Fermented Pork Chop. Personally, I think that this location of Pearl Castle does the best job in town with this item. Not only was the pork chop tender and meaty, it retained a good amount of moisture. Beyond the attractive shade red, the flavours were impactful with a pungency and sweetness. Although not completely crispy, the exterior still was not mushy. Onto another classic, we had the Taiwanese Sausage. As simple as this can be, the one we had here was solid. Sporting a slightly crisp casing that exhibited a light snap, the meat inside was sweet, meaty and succulent. The side of sweet dip only needed to be used sparingly.
Finishing off our meal was the Seafood Coconut Milk Hot Pot. I've had this before and it definitely needs to be eaten with rice. We found it to be really rich and creamy while being too sweet. In terms of the seafood, there was 2 whole shrimp, fish, mussels and squid in addition to slices of fatty pork and cabbage. This is better shared because it is a bit too much for one person. Of course we didn't eat our meals without bevvies, so we got the Milk Tea with grass jelly, Mango Slush with pearls, Milk Tea with pearls and Avocado Slush with pearls. We thought the drinks were solid and definitely did the job. They were blended smooth with nicely textured pearls. Overall, we enjoyed this re-visit to Pearl Castle and it reinforced my belief that this is the best of the chain.
*All food and beverages excluding gratuities were complimentary*
- Dependable drinks and food
- Decent value
- Not necessarily the best at anything, but is consistent across the board
- Parking sucks