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.
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+
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.
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.
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.