Sherman's Food Adventures: Pearl Bay Restaurant (Dinner Service)

Pearl Bay Restaurant (Dinner Service)

So I wasn't really supposed to be in the Bay Area so soon...  I was scheduled to drive down in August on my way down the coast to visit with some family and also grab some eats.  However, my aunt passed and I hopped on a flight down to SFO for a quick few days.  Naturally being a somber time, I didn't bring my camera with me because it wasn't that type of trip.  But of course we still needed to eat food and ended up dining at the Pearl Bay for all 3 meals.  So this post is an amalgamation of 2 dinners and taken with pics taken with my phone.

We started both meals with the House Special Steamed Chicken served with ginger scallion condiment.  The large chicken was prepared quite well where the skin was nicely gelatinized and the texture was not flabby.  Since the chicken was of the free-range variety, the meat was leaner and hence less juicy.  However, that didn't mean it wasn't tender though.  Of course the dark meat was more tender than the white meat, but not by much.  Loved how there was a balanced amount of ginger to scallion in the condiment.

We had a vegetable that I've never seen or tried before - Squash Shoots.  Think pea shoots, but without the leaves.  This was wok-fried with consomme, fried garlic and Virginia ham.  Hence, we had the combination of subtle sweetness from the broth, aromatics and nuttiness from the fried garlic and the meaty saltiness of the ham.  As for the squash shoots, they appeared to be tough, yet that was far from the case.  They were tender and texturally appealing.

One of my favourite dishes was the House Special Rice that had everything but the kitchen sink in it.  In addition to the usual jasmine rice, we found wild rice instead.  In addition, there was shrimp, separate egg whites and egg yolks, tobiko, fried shallots and green onion.  There must've been some other ingredients too that I have missed.  The result was a study of textures that were layered with each bite.  We had this for both dinners.

A dish full of textures was the Stir-Fried Chive, Dried Squid, Taro and Dried Fish.  Cut up into bite-sized pieces, the squid was tender in a chewy-kind-of-way, if that makes sense.  Dried squid has this firm bite that is very different than the spongier fresh squid.  Add in the crunch and vibrancy of the chives and the starchiness of the taro, the mouth feel was appealing.  Moreover, the addition of dried fish added some brininess.

Something that was unique had to be the Singapore Style Oxtail served with deep fried mantou.  This curry might've looked spicy due to the oil on top, but in the end, it was quite mild and creamy.  What I particularly enjoyed about the hot pot was the plethora of silky eggs strewn throughout.  The sauce went really well with rice with an intense sweetness.  As for the oxtail, it was a bit underdone and could've been more tender.

On the following night, we ordered more dishes due to the fact we had a bigger group.  A classic dish was the Stir-Fried Water Spinach with fermented bean curd.  As you can see, they did a good job minimizing the water at the bottom of the plate.  Usually water spinach lets off a considerable amount of moisture.  It was prepared properly where the hollow stems were crunchy while cooked through.  Although the dish wasn't lacking flavour, I would've liked to see more fermented bean curd.

For the kiddies, we got a couple orders of the Peking Pork Chops.  This turned out to be a fantastic idea since the adults enjoyed the dish just as much as the kids!  Each piece of pork was large in size and completely tenderized having a nice rebound texture.  They were fried crispy and in fact, they remained as such even though they were coated in sauce.  About that sauce, it was just enough to cling onto the pork.  Good balance of tanginess with sweetness.

Another interesting item was the Tender Beef Cubes with Japanese Tofu and honey sauce.  Again, lots of different textures at play here including the meaty, yet tender chunks of beef, crunchy veggies and the delicate silkiness of the tofu.  Better yet, the tofu was fried perfectly where the outside was lightly crispy.  However, the thing that really put this dish over the top was the intense flavour of the beef.  It was impactful being sweet and savoury.

Continuing on flavourful dishes, we had the Beef Short Ribs with garlic and black vinegar sauce.  The fatty short ribs were tender and had that unmistakable chewiness (in a good way).  The flavours had penetrated the meat and also caramelized on the outside.  Hence, there was plenty of depth and impact.  Nice aromatic sweetness.  The accompanying veggies were vibrant and crunchy.

Onto a dish that was a mix of items in the Wok-Fried Sliced Lotus Root, fish cake, wood ear mushroom and snap peas.  There was plenty of "wok hei" (wok heat that caramelizes the food) whereby the items were fully cooked yet still maintaining their texture such as the crunch of the lotus root and snap peas.  Loved the fish cake as it was squishy in a good way.  Just enough glaze clinging onto the food to provide a savory umaminess.

A super home-style dish was the Steamed Pork Cake with salted fish.  The trick here is to have the fattiest pork possible so that the meat cake is buttery tender.  It was definitely that here, but the chunks of fat were far too large, so it was not that appealing.  If they had diced it into finer pieces, it would've rendered better.  It did taste good with all the goodness of salted fish.  All-in-all, I was quite impressed with the food at Pearl Bay.  Since I'm from Vancouver, where arguably we find the best Cantonese food in North America (if not the world), it is a real compliment to this restaurant in Fremont.  2 solid dinners so far and Dim Sum on deck...

The Good:
- Good use of wok heat where food has caramelization and impactful flavours
- Decent service
- Decent portions

The Bad:
- That video wall is distracting



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