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Asian Pearl Chowdown

Twenty One hounds gathered this evening and enjoy great company and a very special menu.

Here is the menu

Asian Pearl Assorted Appetizers

Yellow chives stir fry Geoduck Clams

Assorted BBQ Platter

Seafood Carrot Pea Sprout Soup

Three Delights in Abalone Sauce
(Abalone, Fish Maw, Black Mushrooms)

Tossed Wasabi Chicken with Fresh Conch

Stir Fried Rib-Eye Steak over Tofu with Sesame Sauce

Sautéed Froi-Gras with Mixed Wild Mushroom

Sauteed Twin Lobster in Supreme Broth

Sweet Mixed Bean Soup

Live Demo of Dragon Beard Candy

I will let the other make their comments first. Since I will be out of town to take care of some business I will reserve my two cent when I get back or if I am luck enough to find a computer. But I am sure I can say a great time was had by all.

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  1. Thank you, Yimster, for an outstanding (and by outstanding, I mean by far one of the most phenomenal meals I have had in years, truely) dinner. Marlon, thank you for the organization. My table mates, thank you for the company over such a fabulous meal.

    This place, on a Wednesay night, was packed to the gills. Loud, energized, AP was a buzz with customers and staff focused on the service and consumption of food.

    Yes, the food. Oh my god, the sauteed fois gras; whimpering still about the stir fried rib eye; salivating over the cucumber appetizer. I am not a big shell fish fan, but the lobster was perfectly cooked.

    The cherry on top was the live demonstration of the creation of dragon beard candy. When the chef rolled out his cart and flashed the block of hard sugar, our two tables jerked to attention. And then, he started to work. What a sight. To watch the transformation of the solid substance into a multitude of threads of sugar. I was transfixed. As was the restaurant.

    Again, thank you all, but especially Yimster and Marlon.

    Cece

    3 Replies
    1. re: Cecelia

      I almost forgot the pork belly. How could I? I'm ashamed. That pork belly, with the crispy outside and tender inside was a miracle of calories and chloresteral. And thank, Susan, for the extra piece!

      Cece

      1. re: Cecelia

        The dragon beard candy was yummy. Apparently one of the neighboring tables one of the old ladies said in Chinese, "Who do *they* know that they get this special treatment? None of them is even Chinese!" Well, wrong, but anyway.

        It certainly got a lot of attention from nearby tables. Several diners were completely hypnotized and I guess the candy chef had to make a quick escape as lots of special requests for more candy came in.

        1. re: Louise

          Actually he is the one of the two senior chefs in the group. Wanted you to know I requested that he plan and setup our meal. Not sure if he cooked it but he planned and portion our meal.

          So times at large company like this one you have to not only order the meal but you have to know who is laying out your meal for the best results.

      2. Thank you Yimster and Marlon for an outstanding, delectable, and very fun meal.

        Asian Pearl Assorted Appetizers--The tofu skin was -amazing-. It had sesame oil and some rich brothy taste. The dried shrimp with peanuts were nice and salty. The gizzards with salted turnip stem (is this what it was?) were an unexpected pairing but had an anise edge to the flavor that went very well with the richness of the meat. The cucumber was simple but crisp and refreshing.

        Yellow chives stir fry Geoduck Clams--I never ate Geoducks before and enjoyed the texture and flavor. Unfortunately bean sprouts and I do not see eye to eye so I went light on this dish.

        Assorted BBQ Platter--Roast pork, yum yum. Bbq pork, yum yum. Jellyfish, yum yum. Five spice beef (tentative id) was good. One other looked like slices of boned out hock/foot of something? Also good. Came with two sauces, one plum/hoisin-ish, the other a clear pinkish vinegar sauce. I informed Marlon it was not kosher. He was shocked.

        Seafood Carrot Pea Sprout Soup--Simple flavors, to rest the palate. Shrimp, crab (surimi?), dried scallops, I think we each got a small chunk of ginger in our bowl.

        EXTRA--We were peering indiscreetly at other tables and debating the most successful ways to discover what they were eating aside from marching over and scooping up a taste. These mysterious and intriguing large ceramic crocks were filled with one of two kinds of soup--red carrot with vegetable, and chicken foot with ginseng. Derek and Marlon waxed poetic on the joys of chicken foot soup. Yimster used his connections to get Marlon a bowl of these soups--mixed I think--to make up for Marlon's food restrictions.

        Three Delights in Abalone Sauce(Abalone, Fish Maw, Black Mushrooms)--The abalone had an indescribably rich and meaty taste that was delectable and wonderful. The shiitake mushroom I never have to be forced to eat. The fish maw was my first time to try--nice flavor and firm but yielding texture. And the sauce. A sin to waste. The fork came in handy.

        Tossed Wasabi Chicken with Fresh Conch--Both components were delicious. They even boned out the wings! The chicken had the head. We concealed it so it was not looking at us.

        Stir Fried Rib-Eye Steak over Tofu with Sesame Sauce--The silken tofu looked remarkably like fried baguette but obviously was not! The sauce was yummy and I really enjoyed the crustiness of the meat.

        Sautéed Froi-Gras with Mixed Wild Mushroom--Foie gras is something else my arm does not need to be twisted on. The taste was good but the pieces could perhaps have been trimmed a little better. But very rich and I would have been happy to take more than my share. However good manners prevailed.

        Sauteed Twin Lobster in Supreme Broth--Lobster is always good and this brought out the caveman in all of us, crunching on each nook and cranny to extract all the good meaty bits.

        Sweet Mixed Bean Soup--A nice simple sweet ending.

        Live Demo of Dragon Beard Candy. We were the envy of the restaurant.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Louise

          excellent summary, Louise, and I don't have much to add. The company was great, the food was great, the candy show was terrific: all in all one of the most enjoyable chowdowns I have been to in a long while! I hope pictures get posted soon...

          I am usually not a fan of Chinese-style abalone, much preferring the very fresh from the ocean versions I eat when my friends catch it up on the North Coast, but I have to say this was one of the best ab presentations I've had. As Louise says, very meaty, wonderful taste. My other favorites were the Froi-gras (I am afraid to confess I took one of the larger pieces, so while I agree it could have been trimmed just a bit better, who am I to complain?) and the steak and tofu. the texture on the tofu was very nice.

          The geoduck clams were also delicious.

          Hope to see pics posted soon!

          I will be back, now I want to try dim sum there! One note: they don't take credit cards, so take cash, but do go....

          1. re: susancinsf

            They do credit cards but not for some fix price menus where the total price is T&T (tax and tip included) this save them a few percent.

            1. re: yimster

              thanks for the clarification! Good to know...I just assumed it applied to all meals, but that approach makes sense since it was prearranged

          2. re: Louise

            You missed one appetizer dish Ming bean sheets with chicken slices. I will a few more person chime in before I do.

          3. I wasn't there, but wanted to mention that the venue was Asian Pearl in Millbrae and not the location in Richmond.

            -----
            Peninsula Asian Pearl
            1671 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

            4 Replies
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Anyone have a comparison between the Millbrae & Richmond locations?

              1. re: rfneid

                here is a link to a Chowdown we had at the Richmond Branch just about exactly a year ago. I see a lot of the same folks were there:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/33584...

                others who have eaten at both more than one time each should chime in, but personally, I liked the food better last night at the Millbrae location (not that I didn't enjoy Richmond), and the atmosphere is certainly nicer (attractive windows in front, nice lighting, etc). I am much more eager to return to Millbrae than to Richmond (which I haven't been back to since that Chowdown).

                1. re: susancinsf

                  I didn't go to the Millbrae chowdown, but was at the Richmond one. Some of the dishes were outstanding and a number were not that interesting. The dessert was made of Rice Crispies (no lie here) which brought a few sarcastic remarks. I actually liked the dessert.

                  However, after reading the menu and the comments about this chowdown (Millbrae), I'm totally jealous and am going to pout in my room for the rest of the afternoon!! Okay, okay, so nobody stopped me from going.....

                  Sounds like it was sooooooo good.

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    The major point that seperated this chow down was in the west bay vs. the east bay. You should of come. It is always better on this side of the bay. :>)

            2. That was one terrific dinner! Yimster really outdid himself with this meal. This was probably the best of the Chinese dinners I've attended in the Bay Area. All the ingredients were first-rate, and the kitchen's skills shone. My personal favorites were the rice shrimp appetizer, the seafood soup, wasabi chicken (perfectly cooked), abalone with fish maw (stellar--tender and tasty). The geoduck dish was excellent--only at Sun Sui Wah in Vancouver have I had (a shade) better--and the painstaking "tip-and-tail"-ed beansprouts reflects the quality of the kitchen. And, of course, the dragon's-beard candy was loads of fun!

              Yimster and Marlon, take a bow!

              1. Here is my two cents before I leave of more chow at a remote site.

                I requested the steak dish to be under cooked a little so that the outer crust was crisp and the inside to be red and under done so to have two texture in the same piece of meat. Good but they have done better.

                The Fooi-Gras was done prefectly this time cooked just right the best I have had it here.and yes I have had it four times before.

                The Wasabi Chicken had the right bite and cooked prefectly.

                The rest of the meal was all good but the fore mention stood out in my mind.

                The live demo was prefect. I heard at my table there was discussion maybe susaninsf could learn this for our next picnic. I for one would love to watch that demo. As the chef left to get more sugar since all the other tables wanted this dish too. A well know hound jumped to her feet and was clapping. I will never tell on her.

                Lastly the soup was very interesting in it use of ingredients like pea sprouts. On my list of dishes to learn to do.

                I great time was had by all,

                2 Replies
                1. re: yimster

                  21 people = 2 tables of 10 with one at 11, unless it was a super huge table that fit 21?

                  So how much was the total?

                  1. re: K K

                    It was $50 per person. Two tables of 10 and 11 and total cost was 1050. We had one no show, but after a lone discuss we were able to just per person that showed up.

                    In the future a seat is assigned only after payment is made via paypal. Otherwise the others have to make up for no shows.

                2. My guest and I agreed... this was one of the best Chinese banquet meal we have had in years. Highest praise for Yimster's arrangment/ordering and the kitchen.
                  My favourites were:
                  Roast Pork in the BBQ Platter - such delcious crisp skin.
                  Tofu skins in the cold appetizers - silken texture and clean taste
                  The dried shrimp in the cold appetizers - not your average dried shrimp. Still a bit soft
                  Three delights in abalone sauce - I could drink that sauce straight
                  Yellow chives stir fry geoduck - bright flavour and great after the richness of the previous two dishes that came before it.
                  This meal was decadent in a way that makes one go on a rice porridge diet afterwards... LOL!
                  P.S. Where are the pics?

                  1. I am so sad that I missed this one! It sounds incredible, thanks for the excellent reports.

                    1. As a still learning and aspiring chowhound, I have yet to acquire the penchant and appreciation that others here have. So for a dish by dish - blow by blow - what dish has what in it, I will defer to the better equipped. One of the things that stood out as a highlight of the evening was the abalone & the sauce it was bathed in. It was thick without feeling too starchy and non-natural, with a great taste that was both luscious and full while not being relentless.

                      But a big thanks needs to go to yimster for organizing such a fine event. It was one of the highlights of my week. I hope never to miss one of his events, for to do so would be a crime against food and all things that taste good.

                      -gregs

                      1. Thanks to everyone who has made the comments on the food. It truly was a wonderful balace of tastes. Thanks Yimster for talking to the managers and chefs to arrange! My input was restricted to agreeing with the suggestions!

                        As mentioned I am allergic to shellfish but the meal hade many great other options for me! (including a taste of the chicken feet soup that was very tasty!).

                        The BBQ bits (the roast pork!!!!!) were as good as they get.
                        I don't normally care for abalone (more of a texture food in most places) but here it was superb. concentrated taste. delicate. the mushrooms were a delight...
                        The steak and tofu was sweet and had an amazing texture.
                        My foi gras had too many veins left but was cooked perfectly.
                        Dragon beard was fun, but what is maltose sugar anyway???

                        the photos are attached.I will do several postings of pix to follow.

                        Great company! food!...this was the essence of chow houndness...cheers!

                         
                         
                         
                         
                        1 Reply
                        1. re: marlon

                          Maltose sugar is sugar from cereals such as barley and is fermented in the production of beer.

                          1. yet more!!! One hound enjoying her meal!

                             
                             
                             
                             
                            1 Reply
                            1. re: marlon

                              Thanks everyone for such great write-ups. All I can add is that it was truly an amazing meal. I loved every single course. Specially remembering the soup, the lobster and the foie gras with extreme fondness. Oh and the tofu that came with the steak and not to forget the pork belly with a crispy edge.... Ok now I am hungry for more of that...
                              Three cheers for Yimster's ordering and planning :)

                            2. This was without doubt one of the fineist meals I have experienced at a restaurant....everthing shone! The service was impeccable and the company as always...wondeful ...Thank you Marlon for putting this together, and to Yimster who out did himself in arranging the incredible food....I definitely want to do this again...and soon!!!

                              1. I had been looking forward to this banquet for awhile, and it didn't disappoint! Every single dish was delicious and interesting, and the pacing of the meal was excellent. I left feeling full but not unpleasantly stuffed.

                                A few highlights:
                                The duck gizzards were a first for me, and I was surprised to find that I quite liked the texture!

                                I also loved the wasabi chicken. The wasabi had a definite kick but was not too overwhelming. A surprising and enjoyable dish.

                                The sauteed foie gras with mixed wild mushroom was, for me, the crowning point of the meal. I have only had foie gras once before, and I found it too rich for more than a few nibbles back then. But this dish was extraordinary, the sear on the foie gras just perfect.

                                Finally, the dragon beard candy. I loved how the live demo seemed to energize the entire restaurant, adding a definite frisson to the atmosphere. Everyone wanted to know what was going on! We were so lucky to have a front row seat, and the fresh candy was a real treat.

                                Thank you, again, Yimster and Marlon, for another extraordinary meal! (and thanks to Frank Jang for the photos!) It was truly an unforgettable symphony of textures and tastes.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Lillian Hsu

                                  I was a bit dubious about the duck gizzards (one of the appetizers), since I had never tried them and am not a chicken gizzard fan, but since I was in CH company I decided that I had to at least taste them before deciding I didn't like them...and surprise: I also liked the texture! : I expected something sort of mushy, but they were sort of crisp, and very tasty...

                                2. This was just forwarded to me.......and after this INCREDIBLE meal at Asian Pearl...it is so true!

                                  According to the Jewish calendar, the year will be 5768.

                                  According to the Chinese calendar, the year will be 4705.

                                  That means that for 1,063 years the Jews went without Chinese Food.

                                  Those were known as the Dark Ages.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                    Well, Chowfun, itnot 1,063 years. That date is the birth of Confocius not the start of recorded Chinese history. There is recorded Chinese history that date back over 5,000 years.

                                    So the Dark Ages of food is not that long.