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Restaurants & Bars 4

Oriental Pearl? Maybe. Maybe not.

Slow Foodie | Jun 7, 200401:18 PM

The usual full disclosure is that we don't eat pork or shellfish. The other confession is that we are all wimps with regard to spice/heat. Why then, you ask, are the Slow Foodies doing at a Sichuan restaurant? The answer is pretty lame. It's close to Fosselman's and the pups (and their parents) feel morally obliged to have some sort of meal before gorging on ice cream.

We went about 5:30 on Saturday. There were just a few other people in the restaurant. There was a huge television blaring Chinese reports of Reagan's death. The appetizer bar (which is actually the kind of stuff I really like) was buzzing with flies so we took a pass. The service was trying. A few times my inner ugly American nearly came out but I tried to keep it together. We eat in the San Gabriel Valley all the time and have lots of experience with limited English speaking servers. Most are sweet and genial and really do make a genuine effort to understand you and get you what you want. Not so at Oriental Pearl. Not only was no English spoken whatsoever, the girls were sullen, surly and impatient. We ordered by pointing and gave up on attempting to have the kitchen limit the heat of the food by ordering stuff marked with only one chile on the menu. This, and pork/shellfish abstention limited our choices. We ordered beef with leeks, which were actually green onions. It was tasty but not transcendent. We had a noodle dish with beef that had a really rustic flavor, sort of nice but too earthy for the pups, boiled fish and a pretty spicy sauce which I liked, although it tested my heat limits but chowhub thought was just so-so, as in addition to fish, it contained an abundance of unadvertised cabbage. I ordered sizzling rice soup thinking the pups would enjoy the sizzle of the rice being thrust into the hot broth. This, however was served in a pyrex pie pan. The rice was already in the broth and had become a goopy mess. In the fifteen minutes that it took to beg soup bowls and spoons, the soup had gone cold, not that we were excited about eating it anyway. The one dish we all liked was shredded potatoes with vinegar, studded very lightly with chiles. It took forever to get rice, drinks, the check, etc. Based on what I've read here, the lousy service might have been a fluke. Where we real lovers of hot/spicy food I think the Oriental Pearl might indeed be a destination, just not for us again. I will add that fresh peach ice cream is available at Fosselman's these days and for those of you who can really take the heat, I can't imagine a more delightful follow up for a Sichuan meal.

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