I used to go with my aunt to Hong Kong to taste different Cantonese cuisine, among others. Imagine the exuberant cost of our trip from plane tickets to bus fare, hotel expenses, the silly travel tax, etc. Oh, the never ending list of expenses goes on and on when you travel abroad. Well, I can now say to you, my dear, that you don’t need to worry anymore! Yes, fellow foodie, you no longer need to fly to Hong Kong or Macau to get your Cantonese food fix. Yehey!
You can now eat to your hearts content at Pearl River Café, a Cantonese restaurant smack right at the garden area of TriNoma Mall. It’s just beside Cyma restaurant which offers Greek dishes. This authentic Cantonese Restaurant caters to your Chinese food cravings.
Upon entering you’ll notice that the place has a mirror on the wall that gives a sense of greater space by reflecting light, thus brightening the room. The reflection of the room also fools the eye (trompe l’oeil) into feeling there is a greater amount of space than in reality. I think its maximum capacity is at least 30 persons. The tables and chairs have the right height and firmness.
My love for Chinese food has brought me to Binondo and to as far as Hong Kong and mainland China. I literally flew from Manila to Beijing and to Hangzhou then to Shanghai in my search for authentic delicious Chinese cuisine. Unlike the traditional Chinese restaurant that I visited in the past, there is no dim sum trolley at Pearl River Café, you have to order dim sum from the menu.
Hakao (pronounced as ha-kaw) or steamed shrimp dumpling (Php99.00) is one of my gauge to know the authenticity of the food that a Chinese restaurant offers. I tend to judge Chinese restaurants by how good their hakao is. And I can say that Pearl River Café passed the test with flying colors. The steamed shrimp dumplings don’t just look adorable, they also taste wonderful. The Steamed Shrimp Dumplings were fresh, flavorful and perfectly prepared using the delicate dumpling skins that turn translucent when done. The dumplings were full of real shrimp fillings! I am happy to note that they were not stuffed with the usual extenders.
Beef and Broccoli (Php229) were very delicious. The Chinese broccoli was really fresh and crispy. It blended well with the tender beef cuts.
Steamed Spareribs and Taro with Black Bean (Php129.00). I took only one bite of this dish and I think it has lot of fats. I think this dish is a bit overprice. You could order one at one fourth of its price elsewhere. Please make this a healthy meat meal by using lean meat.
BBQ Pork (Cha Siu, or Cha Shao 叉燒) “Cha Siu” literally means “fork burn/roast.” It has a lovely color of red and has a sweet fragrance. Traditionally, Cantonese use pork butt when roasting BBQ pork. Pork butt contains a lot of fat that results in moist, succulent meat after many hours of slow cooking with low heat.
The chefs who roast Cha Siu for Chinese restaurants would use a very huge oven. They skewer all seasoned boneless pork strips with long forks and place them in huge covered ovens so that all pork strips can be baked evenly and easily brushed with honey. I was a bit disappointed because Pearl River Café’s version has more fat than lean meat. I hope they do something about it.
I capped the Cantonese feast with a cup of a healthy and delicious Taiwan Jin Xuan Buttermilk Oolong Tea ( Php350.00 )Taiwan Jin Xuan Buttermilk Oolong Tea produces a light yellowish/ golden liquid with milky sweet aroma and smooth and sweet lingering taste. It is produced from tea leaves at certain time, temperature, altitude, and soil conditions to get the milky silky texture.
It was my first time to try this kind of tea. I so love the experience. Jin-Xuan milk oolong tea is usually planted at an elevation of 1,000 feet above sea level. When Jin-Xuan tea leaves are lightly roasted during processing, they have a unique milk flavor which is called nai xiang or milk oolong. It smells buttery and sweet–candy sweet, not grassy-sweet–and brews to a lovely light golden color. It has a pleasing, smooth flavor with a buttery aftertaste. There is a slight astringency apparent when first sipped, which mellows into a very nice, full sensation on the back of the tongue. My rating for this tea: Excellent.
Pearl River Café’s Dim Sum menu is extensive and allows diners to check off those small plate dishes (and quantity) he/she desires. The dishes were all served freshly prepared, steaming hot and incredibly flavorful. The best thing about ordering dim sum is that each plate averages in cost from Php99 to Php199. This will allow you the freedom to try many things without the worry of getting stuck with an entrée that you don’t like. Order and then sit back and let your taste buds take you away to another world.
This review is made possible by Open rice. Thank you for the invitation Stephanie.
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