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Abomination At Bayview

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I had occasionally walked past The Pearl chinese restaurant in Bayview Village and sometimes looked at the menu, which is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it is unusually limited for a chinese restaurant. Who ever heard of a chinese restaurant with only three pork dishes? Second, the prices are about 40%-50% higher than most chinese normal restaurants. Stir fries are $17-19, for example. It made me wonder whether the place was just ridiculously expensive or whether the food was special. I finally had the chance to find out at no risk when I was able to schedule a business dinner that I wouldn't have to pay for.

Food

1. Hot and sour soup. I would not have known that this was h&s soup if we had not ordered it. It was tepid, and pinky with no taste whatever. It wasn't even up to cheap buffet quality. F

2. Szechuan seafoord hot and sour soup. This was a decent h&S soup but not quite there because the broth was fairly thin. Oddly, it was only 50 cents more than the crappy regularly h&s soup ($6.50 vs $6.00). C+

3. Chicken mushroom hot pot. One of their "special" dishes. A large pot small with small contents consisting mostly of mushrooms with some strips of the *very* rubbery chicken and heavy tasting soy sauce. D+

4. Orange beef. Dried out, deep fried strips of chewy beef in a sauce that was basically sweetened orange juice. As it cooled, the sweet taste became overwhelming. D+

Service

The owner who seated us was a sour puss who never looked us in the eye. You could see his attitude change to all smiles when he spent the rest of these evening chatting up tables of chinese patrons. Draw your own conclusions. The waitstaff was grim-faced kids who went about their business in orderly if not pleasant fashion. At least its better than the frothy bimbos who squeal "hi guys" at so many restaurants these days. Anyway, I don't care much about this stuff but our 45 minute wait for food was another story.

Price

Abysmal. Outrageous. Shocking. These words don't even begin to capture my feelings. And it isn't just that the prices were high, it was they way they cheaped out at every opportunity with smallish portions and a lot of filler. The mushroom and chicken hot pot was most mushroom. The hot and sour soup didn't even have the tiniest strand of pork and the broth probably never saw an animal of any kind.

Summary

I've had crappy food before. I've had ridiculously overpriced food before. I've had poor service before. But I have *never, never* experienced such a perfect storm of all three at the same time and in the same restaurant.

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  1. I guess they're continuing the "tourist trap" business model from their Harbourside location. I'm very surprised to hear there were asian clientel there. Were the tables by default set up with plates and cutlery? I had the misfortune of eating dim sum at the Harbourside location and getting ripped off for $90 for dim sum for 2 people.

    11 Replies
    1. re: sbug206

      There's plenty of Asian clientele at Bayview Village. Obviously, it draws a different crowd than the less posh malls focused on a predominantly Asian clientele.

      I liked the dim sum at Pearl. It's not over-priced when you consider the rent and the prices at other restaurants in the mall.

      I like Yang's better, but I like that I can get dim sum when I'm at the mall. And, I like Pearl better than O +B or Il Fornello.

      1. re: prima

        Let me get this straight. Bayview Mall rents justify 50% higher prices and cheap ingredients? The same Bayview Mall that has a hamburger place and a fast food Thai place? Sorry, I don't buy it. None of the other restaurants there charges 50% more for the same food you can get elsewhere.

        1. re: evansl

          Kabuki charges at least 30 percent more than other Japanese restaurants at a similar level, probably at least partly because of its location in the mall.

          Ok, fair enough, Il Fornello, O & B, the awful burger place that replaced the former A&W and the Thai fast food place are charging the same prices they'd be charging at other malls. I'm sure a dim sum restaurant at Yorkdale or the Eaton Centre would charge the same kind of prices Pearl is charging, rather than charging Scarborough strip plaza or Chinatown prices. Usually, in my experience, I end up paying a premium, whether I like it or not, to eat inside a mall, whether it's in a food court or a full service restaurant.

          Obviously, YMMV.

          1. re: prima

            I ate at Kabuki and it was pricey and below average. They're usually 1/2 empty, not sure how they stay iin business so long. The burger joint is South Street burger chain restaurant. I ate there once and they were slightly more expensive than the one in Leaside. O&B is overpriced in my books; you can get better value along the Leaside strip or Mt. Pleasant south of Eglinton area. Overall Bayview restaurants are all overrated.

            1. re: prima

              I can't say anything about sit-down restaurants in malls. I avoid them since they are virtually guaranteed to be terrible. But I completely disagree that fast food "restaurants" in malls are more expensive. They are exactly the same as the locations on the street.

              I also wonder if the same people who are so quick to justify the Pearl's 50% boost would be perfectly happy to pay 50% more for groceries at Loblaws and 50% more for book at Chapters.

              1. re: evansl

                I'm paying similar prices to Pearl's at Dynasty and Crown Princess, and anywhere else that's higher rent or convenient to the subway.

                Obviously, chain book stores and chain grocery stores are a different type of business than small, independently run Chinese restaurants. The prices at Pearl and in Scarborough are also likely partly determined by what the market will bear.

                The prices at Loblaws do vary from location to location for some of their groceries. I'm not sure how or why Loblaws decides to charge more in some stores than others, and I don't know if the prices at Bayview Loblaws are higher than the prices at most Scarborough Loblaws, since I don't buy groceries in Scarborough. Chapters charges the same prices for the same books throughout ON, as far as I can tell.

        2. re: sbug206

          My impression of dim sum at Pearl Harbourfront is that it's comparable in quality & price to Dynasty in Yorkville and Crown Princess on Bay. Cheaper than dim sum @ LWH. However all these are more pricey than any place in Spadina/Dundas Chinatown.

          1. re: T Long

            This place is northing like the Harbourfront. I've eaten at at least the PInk Pearl's 3 other locations over the years and always had decent food. This place is different. In a bad way.

            1. re: evansl

              The Pearl and the Pink Pearl are not related afaik.

              1. re: MissBingBing

                That might explain it. The Pink Pearl was also OK to good. Their logos look similar, but a pearl is a pearl, I suppose.

                1. re: MissBingBing

                  Not sure what Pink Pearl you're talking about, but Pearl Harbourfront and Pearl Bayview are together here: http://www.pearlharbourfront.ca/

          2. Strange, we've always had a good meal there and certainly never had a problem with the staff. Maybe you just hit "an off day".

            1. I've eaten fine at the Pearl Harbourfront location, and my two meals at Pearl Bayview have been fine too. Not necessarily cheap, but nothing that made my balk.

              1. The title of this post made me laugh.
                My one experience at The Pearl in Bayview Village was nice with regards to both food and service, but I agree about it being overpriced.

                1. oh well, it is after all dim sum a la nouveau-riche...(no offence meant to posters here!)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: shekamoo

                    Have you eaten there, shekamoo?

                    I don't know why you'd say it's dim sum a la nouveau riche, unless you're just saying this because Bavyview Village is an upscale mall with "nouveau riche" clientele. I could see how some Chowhounds might think foie gras mango roll at Yang's might be targetting a posh audience. I haven't noticed any fancy or posh "dim sum for the nouveau riche" options at the Bayview location of Pearl.

                    Pearl does not have an especially posh atmosphere. It's clean, tidy and relatively minimalist. It's not as upscale or fancy as Yang's, Casa Imperial, Dynasty and Crown Princess.

                    I have friends with toddlers and babies who live in North York, who choose Pearl because it's a lot easier to go to a mall that's located 5 minutes away, than to pack everyone into a car and drive 15 km out of their way to save a few bucks in Scarborough.

                    I've found Pearl's dim sum to be better quality than Rol San, slightly lesser quality than Dynasty. I think the prices are fair, considering it's a nice mall, in a nice neighbourhood, where crappy take-out burgers, fake Thai food and take-out Caesar salads are running close to $10 an order. Every meal I've had at Oliver and Bonacini or Kabuki end up closer to $30.My last meal at Pearl was less than $15.

                    It is a more environmentally friendly choice for anyone living in central TO. For someone living in north Toronto, Bayview Village is much easier to reach by bus or subway than any cheap dim sum options in Scarborough.

                    Is cheaper dim sum worth a 10-15 km drive in a car? For me, it's only worth the drive for cheaper dim sum it if I'm meeting half a dozen friends and we're having a feast. If it's just me and a pal, I'd rather save the gas, the drive and some time, go to Pearl and pay a little more for the dim sum.

                    1. re: prima

                      Fair, I AM "just saying this because Bayview Village is an upscale mall with "nouveau riche" clientele"(although I would have put the scare quotes around "upscale"). That mall gives me the creeps with all its hollow pretentiousness, and I would personally not go there for any food, let alone dim sum. Yorkville is pretentious too, but at least for a reason...

                      I do respect your views generally Prima, but on this matter we may just be far apart as I find Rol San better than Dynasty, so I can't really understand where you are placing Pearl.

                      I will also not get involved into the many dimensions of environmentally friendly choices for eating out, but I would just point out that distance and public transit access are only two factors among many that would need to be considered here.

                      Finally, in the same vein as the environmental questions, where cheaper dim sum may not be worth the 10-15 km drive, many other factors may come in that would tip the scale towards the longer voyage away from Bayview village.

                      1. re: shekamoo

                        If you like Rol San bettter than Dynasty, you still might find Pearl's dim sum somewhere between Rol San and Dynasty. Or maybe you'll think both are terrible and over-priced compared to Rol San. Maybe you're ordering different items than I do, or looking for different things in what you consider good dim sum. Maybe we're ordering the exact same things, and you still wouldn't rank the dim sum restos the way I do. I don't expect anyone to necessarily agree with my dim sum rankings. To each their own, of course ;-)

                        I'm not suggesting anyone go out of their way for dim sum at Pearl, but it is convenient for Chowhounds who already will be at Bayview Village, who live/work relatively close to Bayview Village, who aren't creeped out by Bayview Village, who don't want to drive out of their way for dim sum, etc.

                        I agree that the distance and public transit are just 2 factors, but for me, they are the biggest environmental factors in my control, besides watching what I order. I know GTA dim sum restos are using farmed shrimp that destroy the Mangrove forests in parts of Southeast Asia, but the only dim sum restaurant I know of that's using sustainably-raised local seafood is located in Marin County, which is even further than Scarborough! ;-)

                        1. re: prima

                          I live nearby, and I find it interesting that I have friends who absolutely love Bayview Village and others who detest it, and both sides for decidedly 'snobby' reasons :-)
                          I travel further for dim sum, to Dragon Dynasty, without pretension, just because the food and service is good :-)

                  2. We went to the Pearl last night and had a wonderful meal along with courteous service. I would add that this was using a Groupon as well- !

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Helen

                      Did you enjoy paying the extra 50% as well?

                      1. re: evansl

                        have now been to Pearl Bayview at least a dozen times for dim sum, and have enjoyed every meal.
                        Not certain about paying 50% more as our other go to for dim sum is Yangs, and it is not cheaper than Pearl.
                        I quite agree that the quality of O&B in Bayview Village is not up to par.