The way to my heart is through my stomach - figuratively, metaphorically, and literally.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

China Pearl - Boston, MA

China Pearl
9 Tyler St. (bet. Beach & Kneeland Sts.)
Large Fried Anchovies
Boston, MA 02111

In honor of Chinese New Year, for the beginning of the year of the dragon --

Happy Chinese New Year!
Xin Nian Kuai Le!
あけまして おめでとう ございます
Felix sit annus novus!
Selamat tahun baru!
Gelukkig nieuwjaar!
새해 복 많이 받으세요
Kung hé fat tsoi!
Sretna nova godina!
Pork Knuckles in Sweet Soy Sauce

I think that covers all the languages of people I know and talk to on at least on a semi regular basis....

What better but to eat dim sum to honor the practically ageless tradition of Chinese New Year?  China Pearl is a traditional stainless-steel-cart-rolling-around-with-Asian-ladies-who-don't-speak-a-lick-of-English-and-stamp-your-bill-card-after-giving-you-your-delicious-treats restaurant.  This restaurant is definitely traditionally a dim sum restaurant.

Outside of dim sum lunch hours, China Pearl does turn into an ordinary menu based Chinese restaurant, but I solely come here for the dim sum, so I cannot comment on how that food is.  But if the dim sum is an indication, eating here should a fantastic experience either way.
The Fried Anchovies were FILLED with roe.  DELISH!
What is dim sum, you ask?  If you haven't had dim sum yet, you're missing out.  Excellent dim sum is one of the most mind melting, spine shuddering, moanworthy tastegasms that one could have.  Think Asian tapas.  Think many-multi-course family style meals on the cheap.  Think tastegasm.  Ha, couldn't resist a little self advertisement.  Even though you're already here.  Dim sum is essentially small servings of bite size or chopstick friendly foods served in steamer baskets or small plates.

Har Gao
China Pearl has a plethora of different dishes that seem to continually change and be added onto.  I keep finding new dishes that I haven't seen float past me on a rickety stainless steel cloud of tastegasmic goodness before.  The two most standard dim sum dishes--a requirement for my every visit to any dim sum restaurant--are shaomai (minced pork and shrimp in a wheat flour wrapper) and har gao (steamed shrimp dumpling).  Very simple in taste, yet it is what I judge my dim sum restaurants by, similar to my miso soup in sushi restaurants.

Haam Sui Gaau
The pork knuckles were incredibly tender and fatty.  If I didn't know any better, I would have said they were mixed in with some pork bellies.  Sadly there was less tendon than I expected, but I think that's just because I'm a whore for texture, and such things as tendons and squid appeal to me.  Speaking of squid, the fried squid here is fantastic.  Simply flash fried in peanut oil and seasoned with a little sea salt and pepper, it's simply tastegasmic.

Jin Deui, also called Matuan
The very word 'tendon' in a dim sum restaurant brings up one dish that I will rarely pass up: ji jiao (chicken feet), otherwise known as feng zhao (phoenix claws), a much cooler name.  Phoenix claws are, essentially chicken feet.  Deep fried, boiled, and remarinated in a sweet soy sauce concoction, chicken feet, much like most mammal feet, are essentially lots of individual bones connected by tendons and all covered by a skin, almost no meat to consider.

Chicken feet, in my mind, are the equivalent to roasted sunflower seeds when it comes to dexterity.  So much work for so little reward, yet it is so worth it.  Like sunflower seeds, the dexterity is known either in the fingers or the mouth - those people who can put a number of seeds in their mouth and spit out only the shells moments later are much like the people that have the dexterity of tongue to pop in a good section of chicken foot, and spit out cleaned bones moments later, leaving their hands clean and tastegasm underway.

A cross section of Jin Deui - aka any excuse to take a bite
The chee cheong fun (rolled vermicelli sheets with shrimp or pigs liver inside, floating in sweet soy sauce) is a simple but delicious dish that might as well have a joke built into it - the soy sauce soaked vermicelli is very slippery to chopsticks, and failure to hold onto your piece is almost always rewarded in a far reaching fountain of soy sauce splashed up from the dish.  The taste is worth every laugh, if it happens.

The lo mai gai (sticky rice mixed with shredded pork, chicken, and mushrooms wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed) is a delicious filler item.  This is one I like grabbing near the end, easily rewrapped, and good warm or cold.

Jin deui (chewy dough filled with red bean paste, covered in sesame seeds, and deep fried) is a fantastic dessert piece.  After breaking through a fresh, crispy outer crust, the inside is nice and warm and soft.  A tastegasmic ball of joy.

Chee Cheung Fan in a diluted sweet soy sauce
Naturally, because of the fattiness of all the foods,  you'll most probably run out of hot tea, so simply leave the pot lid ajar to signal for a refill.  Exaggerated blackjack finger signals work quite well with the foods - whether to say no more, or to bring more.

I could keep going infinitesimally describing dishes at China Pearl, but like the clanging carts and their respective lady vendors, it would never end.  To get more, one would just have to visit yourself, and feed the need.

I can easily say that China Pearl is one of the best Dim Sum restaurants in the New England area, and have on more than one occasion make the one way hour long drive with the visit to China Pearl being the primary reason.

Happy Tastegasming!

China Pearl on Urbanspoon

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