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Restaurants & Bars 2

Pearl Garden Restaurant, San Ramon

anli | Jan 17, 200504:35 PM

This restaurant has been briefly mentioned on this board, as well as favorably reviewed by the local paper. I was most interested in checking out the weekend brunch menu which features northern style xiao chr (dim sum) items. My husband and I got there on Sunday at 12:30, and the room was only half full. There were 3 or 4 large families (mostly Asian) and some smaller tables occupied. There are certain staple dishes available every day, while the weekend menu is quite extensive. Service is friendly and staff speak both English, Cantonese and putonghua (Mandarin).

What we ordered:

Scallion pancakes $2.95 each- We got 2 orders knowing that we would take leftovers home. These were the best textured pancakes I have had in any restaurant. They are hand rolled, like the ones at Shanghai Gourment in Walnut Creek, but are not as dense, with a nice crunch when you bite into them. Delicious with a little vinegar and chili sauce.

Xiao Long Bao - $3.95 for a steamer of 6. These are about the same size as the ones at Shanghai in Oakland. The wrappers were thin but sturdy enough that they did not break when picked up, and were juicy when you bit into it. The nice thing was that the juice was not overly greasy. Perfect size to pop into your mouth (after waiting for a cooling period).

Sheng Jian Bao (Pan Fried Bao) -$3.95 for 6. The chef makes an excellent dough for this bao, and the bottoms were perfectly fried. The filling could have been a little more generous, but overall is a bargain at this price. I think this was my favorite. It reminded me of the ones from Yangtze in Berkeley from 10 years ago.

Xie Ke Huang (loosely translated as Crab Shell Yellow) -$3.95 for 4. These are ground pork and scallion filled round pastries rolled in sesame seeds and baked til golden. I haven't seen this on a menu in a long time. Very good and fresh.

Salted Duck - small plate for $3.95. The meat is lightly salty, with a silky skin. It is served with a mild soy sauce over it. Very subtle flavor.

Zha Jiang Mien - $6.95 for a large bowl. The sauce is very dark, with shredded pork and a few shrimp (a bit of a surprise). It comes in a bowl with noodles on the bottom, shredded zucchini on the side and the sauce poured on top. You then use chopsticks to coat the noodles, which are not hand made but are thick, similar to udon noodles though perhaps slightly thinner. This was the one disappointing dish, as the darkness of the sauce led one to expect a deep flavor but it was surprisingly flat and in need of salt or more soy. The sauce at Shan Dong in Oakland is far superior.

The bill came to $26 incl. tax. We had enough leftovers for the kids' lunch.

The hostess is named Amy, who came by to say hello. She gave me a menu in Chinese (simplified characters) that showed set dinner menus of excellent value, ranging from $39 for a soup and 5 dishes to $99 for a soup and 7 dishes. You can also order off a 60 item menu at $6 a plate. I'm thinking of going there for dinner tonight. The menu features dishes from Peking, Hunan, Szechuan and HK.

Address: 2101 Camino Ramon Road, suite 100, San Ramon.

A couple of other incentives to go out that way - there is a Costco nearby, and we found a 76 gas station on San Ramon Blvd. that had reg. gas at $1.78/g. Don't know if it was a mistake or what, but we filled up before we left the area!

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