Healthy and Sane

China Pearl dim sum madness

February 8th, 2009 · 13 Comments · Boston, Eating out, restaurant reviews

So yesterday’s eats were quite uneventful (although I did make delicious biscotti – there will be a different post on that at a later date) so we’ll skip straight to today’s delicious dim sum brunch at China Pearl in the Boston’s China Town district.  As I mentioned during my interview, my husband and I are going to Hong Kong and Singapore in less than 2 weeks so in preparation for our trip we decided to get a group of our friends together to enjoy a little bit of Chinese finest right here in Boston.  Everyone was pretty excited even though most of us didn’t even know what dim sum was.  Just in case you don’t know what dim sum is, here is a little description from Wikipedia for you:

Dim sum (literally meaning “touch the heart”) is the name for a Chinese cuisine which involves a wide range of light dishes served alongside Chinese tea. It is usually served in the mornings until noon time at Chinese restaurants and at specialty dim sum eateries where typical dishes are available throughout the day. Dishes come in small portions and may include meatseafood, and vegetables, as well as desserts and fruit. The items are usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate. 

I made reservations for 9 people at China Pearl ahead of time, as I’ve heard there are often lines out the door at this place and I haven’t experienced this kind of waiting for food since bread lines in the Soviet Union 😉  When I called, the guy on the other side of the phone was a bit hesitant about the whole reservation process.  He said he’ll take my name down but that Sunday at noon is a very busy time so we may have to wait anyway.  Upon arrival at the restaurant, I was happy to find out that he in fact did write down my name and we were bumped up straight to the top of the line upon arrival.  We still waited for about 5-10 minutes but the line was huge otherwise (my estimate is that we would have waited at least 45 minutes).  Let me just say right now that even a 45 minute wait would have been worth it (although I’m glad we didn’t have to wait this long :) )!

The restaurant is HUGE and the decor is quite uneventful.  It’s been around forever and I’m sure they haven’t changed anything since opening.  Everything was quite old and gloomy looking but once we were seated at our table, no one was looking around :)  The food took the stage – and there was lots of food!  In fact, about 20 seconds after seating down, we were surround by 3 carts with all sorts of dumplings and dishes I couldn’t pronounce if I tried.  I heard you’re supposed to pace yourself so we got a plate with shrimp stuffed noodles, a pork dumpling dish and a few other unrecognizable things and waited patiently for another round.  It was quite overwhelming at first but we got a hang of it fast enough.  This was SO MUCH FUN!  My stomach was very happy with me, even though I probably consumed more than I should have.  Oh well, this was all research for the upcoming trip :)

I apologize for all the blurry pictures.  The lighting was less than ideal and like I said – this was a bit hectic.  We were all way too eager to eat and snapping dozen of pictures would have angered my hungry friends.  Use your imagination here… or better yet, find a local dim sum spot and give these babies a try for yourself.

shrimp stuffed noodles

This was the first thing I tried and I think it was one of the best.  It was steamed and tasted quite healthy, but very flavorful.  We actually got another round of these later on.  Good stuff!

meat stuffed dumplings

These buns were so fluffy.  I’ve never had anything like this before.  Very very yummy 😀

chicken/vegetable steamed dumplings

second round of shrimp stuffed noodles

shrimp ball

I actually didn’t have the shrimp ball pictured above – I figured I’d stay away from fried food as there was plenty of yummy steamed stuff to go around.  I heard it was one of the best dishes, although it was filled with onions (so I wouldn’t have liked it anyway!)

Beef and mushroom bun

sesame balls filled with bean curd paste

Pulled bbq pork filled buns

The pulled bbq pork buns were so interesting, because the buns were actually very sweet (that’s sugar glaze on top).  It played up the sweetness in the bbq sauce in a unique way.  I loved these too!

spicy shrimp

coconut jello

There were so many other unpictured dishes, including tofu, egg custard filled buns (again, almost tasted like dessert!), udon noodles, mushrooms stuffed with shrimp dumplings and many others I’m sure I’m forgetting.  Every dish was so different.  Most were some kind of dough or noodle stuffed with shrimp or meat, but every texture and flavor combination was so unique.  Seriously I was in heaven!!  And to top this fabulous experience, we were pleasantly surprised by the price!  Our check came to $73 with tax for 8 people.  All of this food was less than $10/person.  Crazy awesome!!  I know we’ll be back there soon!

And now I really can’t wait for food in Hong Kong 😀

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - not sister inna

    I’m so glad you had such a fun time! In San Francisco I live in a neighborhood that is basically half Russian half Asian (exaggeration, but not far from the truth) and just a few blocks down from my house there are 2 looong streets (couple miles at least) filled with door to door avian restaurants and supermarkets. As you can imagine, dim sum is HUGE there, and in SF in general. It’s hard for me because I don’t eat pork or shellfish and most dim sum dishes have one or the other but my friends always rave about it :)

  • #2 - ttfn300

    oh wow, i haven’t done dim sum, either, but i’ll have to put this on my list. What an exciting trip you guys have planned!! :)

  • #3 - Tiffany

    Those fried shrimps balls were so good, but I never came across any onion in mine :/ Perhaps Adam just grabbed it before me.

    Regardless, this dining experience was fantastic, and despite feeling stuffed after eating everything, none of it felt especially unhealthy (even though there was a ton of dough!).

  • #4 - Melissa S.

    what a great “research” dinner! everything looks amazing and for only 10 bucks!? wow!

    i’m glad you had such a great time!

  • #5 - Amy

    That looks so fun! You’re going to love the food in China. I was there in May (although not in Hong Kong. I was in Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai) and loved the food. :)

  • #6 - Sharon

    You’re going to love hong kong. I miss it there so much! There is so much to eat there, and everything is so tasty! You’re going to have a blast! So, jealous! Mango smoothies are my favorite!

  • #7 - Lara

    Oh man, the title of this post had me so excited. You know how much this stuff kills me! Everything you ordered looks great–the baked (darker) pork buns are my favorite, along with the steamed shrimp dumplings (similar to the noodles you had but in balls). In my experience, with maybe one exception in SF, the lamer the decorations, the better the food 😀
    Thanks for sharing this–I got to live vicariously through you since I’m trying to avoid Chinese food for a while 😉 Glad you had such a nice time! Most people are not that open-minded on their first (?) dim sum experience.

  • #8 - K

    Everything looks SO good!!

  • #9 - ashley

    i am so in love with dim sum. i’m half chinese so my mom is like the know all of all things there and i love it!!! everything looks so good, my fav is those sesame balls with the bean paste inside YUMMM youre going to have such an awesome trip!

  • #10 - kate

    I have wanted to try dim sum forever!!!! this post is pushing me to MAKE IT HAPPEN…YUM.
    Thanks for the invite for Monday, i would love to join!!

  • #11 - sister inna

    i would have never thought chinese for brunch! the food looks soooo yummy i’m jealous i probably can’t convince you to go there again next weekend (or can i??)
    i think i’ve been to this place one night after a heavy club outing in boston… they’re open very late and yes the line was out the door and the wait was an hour and a half 😛

  • #12 - Elina

    Ooh, Inna, you’re bad. I may be able to be convinced to go again next weekend 😉 It was SO good, I think I can eat this stuff every day of my life and be happy!!

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