9 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111
It is a little late but Happy Lunar New Year! Enter the year of the Monkey – the Fire Monkey to be exact. I was born in the year of the Horse and my counterpart was born in the year of the Goat which means I should be expecting gains in my career and money and my fellow diva should be expecting progress in her career as well. In addition to New Year the divas are celebrating the end of their month of healthy eating and we are ready to eat some DUMPLINGS!
China Pearl was completely decked out for the Lunar New Year festivities and looked quite magical. There was an entire array of lanterns, garlands, red envelopes and other accoutrements on sale in a display at the front of the restaurant.
China Pearl had a pretty traditional set up for dim sum – an open space with many tables and ladies pushing the carts full of dumplings and other delicacies. The first dim sum we tried was the Deep Fried Taro Puff. I had always been curious about them because of their crazy, frizzy appearance. The dumpling is made from mashed purple taro root and stuffed with a combination of mushrooms, pork and shrimp. Frankly, I wasn’t crazy about this one, overall it was rather flavorless and the combination of crisp and mushy textures was unappealing. I will mention that due to a language barrier/misunderstanding we did miss out on the sauce for it and that could have been a game-changer. If anyone knows of an exceptional taro dumpling in the Boston area please let me know in the comments section, because I would be willing to give it a second chance with some guidance.
The next dim sum we chose was the pork and peanut dumpling. This version was much better than the one we had in November at Winsor Dim Sum Café and they reminded me of why they are one of my favorites. I love the chewy rice wrapper skin of the dumpling and then the savory pork is complimented by the crunchy peanuts and celery in the filling.
From that same cart we chose some pork and shrimp shu mai, another delightful standard of the dim sum cart and these did not disappoint. They were perfect mouthfuls.
Next came sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf, China Pearl’s version had Chinese sausage, mushrooms, chicken and pork in it. This is another item that is standard with dim sum menus. To be honest the process of eating it is my favorite part – unwrapping the charred lotus leaf and being presented with the triangle of sticky rice that has little “treasures” of pork, sausage and mushrooms to be found in it.
The rice noodle roll with beef was also exceptional. And to be honest I actually put some of the sauce from it on the taro dumpling which improved it by at least 50%. The noodle roll itself was also very tasty, this dish is another staple of the dim sum menu and I’ve never found it to be really truly amazing, but you can generally count on it to be a tasty dish and a general crowd pleaser at most establishments.
And finally, FINALLY we were able to get the dish that I had really been waiting for – the turnip cake or Lo Bak Go. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the turnip cake is made from shredded daikon radish and rice flower and often has bits of onion, pork, and/or Chinese sausage in it. It is really my favorite dim sum treat and I saw the cart from all the way across the room and my mouth began to water. Unfortunately everyone in the restaurant also was looking forward to it and by the time they made it through half the tables they had run out much to my dismay. While they were cooking more I let one of the other ladies with the cart know that I was very much interested in getting my hands on a turnip cake and when they were finished she brought me a plate of them. This was truly above and beyond excellent service, especially for a dim sum restaurant. I was delighted with my turnip cakes hot off the griddle; they were crisp on the outside and tender inside with delicious bits of Chinese sausage and pork in them.
China Pearl is an excellent restaurant for dim sum, especially since, unlike many other establishments, they serve dim sum all week not just on the weekends.