Orient Pearl in Epping N.H.
My wife and I have eaten here three times and we've found the sushi to be at least a B+
Too crowded on Friday and Saturday nights, but excellent otherwise.
Has anyone eaten here and what do you think of the other styles of food that they offer?
Nice roomy dining room with pleasant staff.
We recommend sushi on Sunday when everyone else is eating the buffet, the sushi chef is happy to spend some extra time and effort on your food.
My girlfriend and I decided to have a Saturday lunch (really breakfast for us) here, based on the following facts: 1. We didn't feel like going to Portsmouth, 2. Folks on Yelp said it was pretty decent, and 3. We didn't feel like paying P-mouth prices for lunch.
First the negatives:
The staff seemed confused regarding who would be our server. I got the feeling that the man who ended up being our server bullied the young girl who initially greeted us and took our drink orders. Perhaps I'm wrong, but it seemed slightly tense between them. The fella that ended up being our server was slightly overzealous in his service. He was friendly, but took away a steamer basket (shumai app.) literally seconds after I had plucked the last dumpling from it.
Now everyone's favorite: the positives =).
We were quite pleased with our lunch selection today. The Orient Pearl is well appointed in decoration and well staffed even for a Saturday lunch. The interior designer chose clean, simple decorations and tables, which are all well spaced, leaving the restaurant feeling warm and cozy, without being too tight.
We like to start with a warm appetizer when we have sushi, so we ordered Shumai (steamed shrimp dumplings). The dumplings were tasty, about the size of a California roll, and there were 6 in the basket. This is a good size for an appetizer, in my opinion. Too many restaurants feature appetizers that are really entrée sized plates to be shoveled down before the real entrée arrives. Suffice to say, it was a nice way to prep for the main course.
We decided to order three different maki rolls, from the 3 price levels on the menu. From the lower priced makis we ordered the Idaho maki, a sweet potato tempura roll ($4). The middle priced roll was the Crazy maki, shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado, and flying fish roe ($8). The higher end roll was a special, the "Red Sox roll", which was tuna and avocado on the outside, with lettuce, spicy mayo, and shrimp on the inside ($13). They came out on a large white platter which was decorated with drizzles of two sauces. The wasabi was whimsically crafted into a little tree with the help of a sprig of parsley.
I will be the first to admit that my sushi palette is far from developed, as we only get to eat it once every couple of months. That being said, in my opinion, the sushi was fantastic. We were very happy with all three of our orders. The Idaho maki is simple, sweet and savory at once, and a great start to the plate. The Crazy maki was awesome, the tempura shrimp well fried and very clean tasting. I had difficulty discerning which piece I would eat last (save the best for last, I always say), and I decided that my last bite would be of the Red Sox maki, which was artfully rolled, fresh, light, and absolutely delicious.
Other nice points: the soy is brought out in small white tea or cream servers, which were cute. The buffet looked good, was clean all around despite the number of people that were going up to it, and was obviously very popular. The service is very efficient. The menu is extensive, with many entrées on the Chinese side, and at least 25 or 30 sushi options on the Japanese side.
In summation: we're big fans of the Orient Pearl, and we have already planned to go there for lunch again in the next couple of weeks. It looks like most of their business is on the buffet end of things, but I'm convinced that it's worth going to for sushi. Again, I'm not the greatest judge of sushi, but it was fresh and clean tasting, left us full, satisfied, and we didn't have to spend a lot of money. We could have saved a few bucks if we'd have bothered to even look at the lunch menu, but I'm happy with what we bought anyway.
OK, I'll bite. We went last week for lunch. Wanted to sit at the sushi bar and the host seemed surprised because everyone else was partaking in the all-you-can-eat buffet. So, we sit at the bar and we noticed either it was too high or the chairs too low to eat comfortably. The waiter came promptly and asked what we wanted to drink, we said "sake" and next the manager came over quite promptly and told us "Sorry, we have sold out of sake due to last night's Chinese New Year celebration." So, at that point we opted to sit at a table and to try the buffet, No sake, no sushi is my motto. So, the buffet was good, not great. Everything seemed fresh, but not really that adventurous or flavorful. The place was packed with people gourding themselves on what was most likely their only meal of the day. There were a few items on the buffet that had not been replenished during the whole time we were there. The service was very good, but overall we weren't very impressed. We will go back to try the sushi and report back then.