Sherman's Food Adventures: Ban Dao Pearl Seafood Restaurant

Ban Dao Pearl Seafood Restaurant

When they original Pennisula opened up at Oakridge mall, people were up in arms over the pricing.  How dare they charge nearly $7.00 for Ha Gau!  I've been there for Dim Sum and although it was expensive, I thought the food was not bad and all the backlash was a little bit exaggerated.  Besides, we've seen more and more restaurants open up at an even higher price point.  So when their sister restaurant Ban Dao Pearl (it's really still Pennisula, in Chinese) opened up at Marine Gateway, I wanted to do a quasi-revisit, albeit not at the original location.

From the moment we walked in, the high level of service was apparent (probably better than the Oakridge location).  Remember the $7.00 Ha Gau?  Well, if we really look at it, you are getting 6 dumplings for that price, so despite the small size, it suddenly doesn't seem so outrageous.  These were heavily seasoned with sesame oil, hence it was aromatic and impactful.  The shrimp were buttery and moist with a snap encased in a elastic thin wrapper.  Although there was a significant amount of bamboo shoots, they weren't too pungent.  We found the Siu Mai to be meaty with big chunks of pork that were naturally textured.  We would've liked to see more rebound.  The dumpling was well-seasoned and an emitted aromatic shrimp flavour.

One item we thought was subpar was the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet).  They were gummy and chewy where the skin didn't seem like it was fried long enough.  Furthermore, despite the appearance of being plump, the cartilage underneath was a bit underdone.  There was plenty of garlic, but the dish was not seasoned aggressively enough in general.  On the other hand, the pieces were pretty large though.  Sporting a similar flavour profile, the Beef Tendon were appealingly soft while retaining a bite.  The dish was garlicky and sweet with only a purposeful amount of salt.  The peppers on top were for aesthetics only as we couldn't taste any.

Large in portion size, the Steamed Pork Spareribs were on point.  Almost every piece was a meaty rib portion with only one that was cartilage.  The ribs had a natural meat texture while exhibiting some rebound (and even some butteriness).  The dish was plenty tasty with hits of garlic and pepper yet bordering on salty.  One dish that was smaller than the rest was the Bean Curd Skin Roll served with a dollop of dried scallop on top.  The skin was beautifully chewy while still soft.  The dish visually-attractive (which is not usually the case).  The filling was meaty and tender while blessed with lots of greens.  Hence, it wasn't dense and there were varied flavours.

Another dish that featured more pieces than the usual, yet smaller in size, was the Beef Meatballs.  They were buttery soft with bits of hand chopped meat.  Therefore, there was a contrast in the soft processed beef texture with the meaty bits.  I liked the crunch of the water chestnuts but at the same time, there was far too much green onion.  We went off the board a tad and ordered the Scallop & Pea Shoot Rice Noodle Roll.  It was pricey at $13.00, but well-worth it.  There were large scallops inside that were buttery and briny sweet.  The pea shoots were not overdone retaining a crunch and nice colour.  Outside, the rice noodle was on the thicker side, but was still tender with elasticity.  

Our one fried item was the Scallop and Taro Dumpling.  It was hot and crispy with a soft layer of mashed taro.  The pork filling was kicked up a notch with curry, so it was lightly spicy and aromatic.  The large scallop on top was a bit overdone, but a nice touch nonetheless.  We finished off the meal with the Glutinous Rice Balls with red bean filling.  These were pretty pedestrian with a thin glutinous layer coated with coconut.  Inside, the red bean was dense and not very interesting.   Now I can see this place being rather polarizing since not everyone wants to spend so much money on Dim Sum.  This is especially true when there are so many worthy spots that are less pricey.  However, we still thought it was pretty good, albeit as mentioned, on the pricier side.

The Good:
- Generally quality food
- Attentive service
- Nice dining space

The Bad:
- Expensive
- For the price, there shouldn't be any bad dishes

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