Dim sum @ Pearl Liang, Paddington, London
A very thin and stiff translucent skin (one of the thinnest I've encountered in London so far), with a tiny bit of bite, around a decent amount of sweet king crab, bolstered by prawns and egg white. Wished it was all king crab, would have been happy to pay more.
The crispy aromatic duck roll was pleasant, very crispy wrapping, but the duck perhaps a touch dry.
I loved getting the combination cheong fun/rice sheet rolls that allowed one to separately sample four very flavourful fillings: firm, delicate scallop, exceptionally smoky char siu/glazed roast pork, tender crunchy prawns and evocative beef with celery. Very glossy rice sheets, well oiled, tender but not mushy, with a lovely little bit of chewiness.
Xiao long bao were pretty good examples, very thin skins, even though the top knot was still on the thick side. The pork filling and soup weren't as well seasoned as some of the others I've had (lacking a subtle meaty sweetness) but the skins make up for it. A notch below Min Jiang's version, but still good.
I really loved the consomme with bamboo pith and mushrooms - brilliantly clear, sparkling with oily droplets of elegant flavour.
Citrusy and tart grapefruit, separated into juicy fibres, sweet cubes of mango and delicate tapioca balls combine deliciously in a chilled dessert, perfect for warm weather.
A drinkable Tieguanyin, of the variety that carries a medium to dark roast.
Excellent dim sum on the whole.
Limster, I revisited Pearl Liang for dim sum and enjoyed it much more than on my 1st visit last summer.
Thanks for the bean pastry with bamboo piths mushroom consomme rec. Not an item that would necessarily have caught my attention but it was the standout amongst 3 (xiao long bao and peking pancake being the others), the very essence of umami. Plus the confusingly translated "bean pastry" turned out to be soya milk skin aka yuba which is one of my favourite Japanese vegetarian foods (I've seen a Japanese friend make it at home and it's a real labour of love I can tell you!!).
Glad you liked it -- a few of the items I had were recommended by the waitstaff, who also recommended the lobster noodles for dinner (I've yet to try it but hoping to soon).
Fresh yuba is indeed a thing of beauty, I've only had it at the Beverly Hills branch of Umenohana, a Japanese restaurant that specialises in tofu and other soy bean products. Have you encountered any versions here?
I've had an evening meal at PL and enjoyed it quite a lot. Didn't try the lobster + noodles but then again for me lobster and crab are best served as unadorned as possible :-)
One place in London where you can definitely get yuba is Umu which isn't surprising as it specialises in kaiseki with a head chef from Kyoto. I haven't tried the yuba but enjoyed my one lunchtime experience there quite a lot, more than I thought I would. Nosebleed expensive as you can see from the ALC menu below.
I imagine that Sake no Hana might also offer yuba but I've never been and haven't really been tempted to.
Occasionally I find somewhere that makes its own tofu (eg Goldfish modern Cantonese in Hampstead) and I dig that too, have you come across other places from your Chinese, Korean and Japanese experiences?
Haven't tried that many to be honest. I had some at Kikuchi, which was very delicate side, and Haozhan apparently makes their own too (the Haozhan tofu topped with scallop, tobiko and nori was a good dish).
On a related note, Sun Luen in Chinatown makes their own tofu flower (aka dou4 hua1, a more delicate version of tofu, often served in a syrup) and it's pretty good. A few other places serve this too, but I've not done much extensive chowing in this area. I think Yumcha's version is likely to be made on the premises as well, but it's a guess.
Dinner at Pearl Liang this evening:
- Har-gau (steamed shrimp dumplings) - fabulous, perfect skin encasing tasty, crunchy shrimp/bamboo filling. Definitely one of the best ones in London;
- Double-boiled supreme sharks-fin consomme (with crabmeat) - not good. The consomme was pretty bland and diluted. In fact, I'd thought I was served the wrong dish. But anyway, the soup was only £28++, a fraction of what we'd pay in a top-class Cantonese restaurant in Hong Kong for superior quality sharksfin, so I guess we can't really complain here. To get a truly expensive, high-grade sharksfin soup, I think we'd probably need to go to Kai Mayfair.
- Braised whole fresh abalone with supreme oyster sauce: this was really good: the thick unctuous sauce was one of those which would spur me to lick the dinner plate clean. The fresh abalone had the bouncy texture (not as yielding as pre-dried abalone) I'd expected. Perfect!
- Lobster noodles ("Lung-har mein"): pretty respectable version here - absolutely fresh lobster, braised in a thick ginger-scallion sauce which tasted (in Pearl Liang's rendition) distinctly of fermented brown soybeans ("doujiang"/豆醬) which I did not quite expect! I was expecting a light-coloured sauce, perhaps accentuated by a bit of Shaoxing wine. But I guess London-style Chinese food has a more robust, rustic style which lacked the subtlety of Hong Kong-Cantonese style of cooking. The noodles used were the same sort as for wonton noodles. Nice textures here. I liked the generous slivers of ginger and scallions used in this dish. Overall, an enjoyable dish - just wished they'd ditch the fermented bean paste.
Pearl Liang has a pleasant decor, reminiscent of Hakkasan. Its service (by the waitresses) were professional, very friendly (they made me feel very comfortable indeed) and one of the best you'd ever encounter in a Chinese restaurant in London.
8 Sheldon Square
London W2 6EZ
Tel: +44 207 2897000
I'm glad you had a good meal. We had a large dim sum lunch there about two months ago, and we enjoyed Pearl Liang's a lot. We had all male waiters! I'd like to go back for a dinner one of these months and try some other dishes. The menu is a very tempting one, and the ambiance is very pleasant.