COCONUTS HOTSPOT – After launching ultra-luxury restaurants like Inakaya on the 101 floor of the ICC building and rebranding Harlan’s fine dining with a drop dead harbourview on the 19th level of The ONE, the JC Group has switched gears.
This time they’ve opened a more modest and mass eatery called Pearl Dining House. The venue is barely 1,000 sq feet and seems an odd venture for JC after engaging in other high stakes and high priced operations. The most expensive dish at Pearl Dining is HK$198 (for main courses braised sea cucumber or braised eel). At Inakaya or Harlan’s, HK$198 will barely cover a single appetiser.
Pearl is also a bit low profile. Tucked away in a small corner of the UG level of The ONE’s shopping mall, the menu is an interesting mixed-bag of favourites from different Chinese cuisine. It is formally split into four sections: Huaiyang Delights, Noodles from the South and North, Shanghainese Home-style Cuisine, and Nutritious Soup. A closer examination reveals dishes from the South to North, from Huaiyang, Shanghai, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang as well as other peripheral provinces.
Opened less than a month, there are still kinks in the operation. Despite making reservations, the busy hostess sharply warned us we still had to wait. A more experienced staffer would’ve said something more pleasing, like “yes, we’re getting your table ready now and it will be available shortly.”
Roasted Diced Eel in Teriyaki Sauce (front), Cold Vermicelli With Shredded Chicken (right back) and Braised Gluten with Mushroom (left back)
There are unusual and excellent entrees. Roasted Diced Eel in Teriyaki Sauce (HK$78) offers bite sized chunks of eel with a nice chewy texture. Crispy Curry Beef Brisket (HK$68) is deconstructed alchemy with tender brisket fried in a cornstarch batter then sliced and drizzled with a thick curry paste. It’s weird but it works.
Crispy Curry Beef Brisket
However, some authentic touches probably won’t be as appealing. Chicken skin is left on the meat in the Shanghainese favourite Cold Vermicelli With Shredded Chicken (HK$58). Yes, there is more poultry flavour present but I’m not sure many modern diners enjoy the added skin and fat. In contrast, the Braised Pork with Bean Curd Sheet (HK$88) goes for belly meat with less fat which everyone enjoyed with less guilt.
Sadly, we couldn’t try any of the buns and dumpling because, as we were told, the dumpling chef hasn’t come on board yet.
Dan Dan Noodles
But a definite hit are the noodles, all handmade on premise. The base of the Dan Dan Noodles (HK$56) might be slightly watery but the right hint of chilli and sesame flavour is there. The Hand Pulled Noodle with Sliced Lamb and Vegetables (HK$68) has an enjoyable sweet broth and it’s thick strands of Chinese pasta are perfectly al dente.
It just goes to show, a comforting bowl of excellent soup and noodles is often as luxury as a fancy penthouse restaurant with expensive ingredients. Don’t be surprised if more Pearl Daning House pops up across Hong Kong.
Pearl Dining House
Shop UG221, The ONE,
100 Nathan Road,
Tel: 2703 9333
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