China Pearl was well reviewed on this board, and I was interested to see there was a location in Woburn as well as one in Chinatown, so I decided to compare the two spots. Did the Chinatown restaurant last Sunday. We fought traffic associated with sporting events and commencements, detour signs, construction, a series of one way streets--many of which appeared going the OPPOSITE way to what my map said (suffice it to say we approached Chinatown from about six directions before actually hitting it), eventually found street parking (managed not to get a ticket although we obviously did not have a Chinatown resident sticker). (Yes, will try the T next time.) We were more than a little frazzled before encountering the lineup to obtain a number, time milling around outside on the sidewalk and stairs, and eventually agreeing to share a large table with several other groups of people. Whew! The dim sum was really quite good. Everything was fresh, items we wanted came up quickly, the flavors were bright, the egg custard tarts still warm from the oven. Minor quibbles only--the spring rolls had an odd texture and some kind of vegetable matter we were not familiar with, would pass on those next time, the baked pork buns were too sweet for our taste. However, on the whole, dim sum about as good as what we've had in SF, NY, LA. Realized at the end of our meal that there was also a kind of buffet with noodles and shellfish and would try some of those dishes next time.
The Woburn location, a short drive on I95 for us, had ample parking. Open at 11 not 9:30, and no wait. Reasonably prompt service, over the top decor, and food that just wasn't anything like as good as the Chinatown location. The egg custard tarts without question not made today, the steamed dumplings didn't sparkle, the slimy, wide rice noodle dish with shrimp (don't know the name but it is the one served on an oval plate with a soy sauce based gravy on it) was all clumped together and contained almost no shrimp. The steamed pork buns were absolutely the highlight, just full of barbecued pork, fluffy and piping hot.
And, my friends, there is the trade off. Chinatown hassle factors Vs Woburn less inspired chow.
Have every intention of trying the other dim sum places in Chinatown and elsewhere. Chow Chau? Empire? Well reviewed here. Dare I hope for other great dim sum outside of Chinatown?