I've heard a lot of good things about Sungari Pearl on this board, so I decided to finally try it. I had gone to the original Sungari a few years ago as the guest of one of our Deans. He goes there at least once a week and had ordered a special menu for our group of fifteen or so. At the time, I thought the food was okay but nothing to get excited about. It was also the most depressing locations I had seen in Portland.
Caveat Here: I grew up in San Francisco eating Chinese four blocks from our house on Clement from babyhood. Dim sum was a weekly treat. I didn't have "American" chinese until I attended high school in upstate NY. It was shocking to discover that people consider General Tso's Chicken chinese food.
I ordered the wonton soup, sauteed eggplant, and prawns with walnuts to get a feel for the menu. I was already in shock over the prices! $17.50 for an order of prawns. At Wong King or in SF, it would be $12.
The wonton soup was mediocre, to say the least. The broth had little chicken flavor and was loaded with tumeric to give it the proper color. The wonton skins were too thick and lacked tenderness. The slivers of bbq pork were tasteless.
The prawns were a little skimpy for the price of the order. However they were very large. The coating just wasn't right. Done correctly, this dish enhances the flavor of fresh prawns. But this coating had no taste and did nothing to enhance the prawns.
The eggplant was no better, with strange tasteless threads of some vegetable. It was also cooked incorrectly, so the skin hadn't softened and was still tough and unchewable.
My take: This restaurant is for people who grew up eating American chinese. It's been gussied up with very fancy location, tablecloths, well-dressed waiters, and high prices. But what they are cooking is NOT chinese food, it's American chinese. If you want good chinese in Portland, go to Wong King. If you long for General Tso's Chicken in fancy surroundings, this is your place.
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