East Pearl: Duluth, GA
While Korean food has taken off in Atlanta, primarily in the suburbs, Chinese cuisine has fallen behind. I remember when we first moved to Georgia, there was only one or two known Chinese restaurants. When we found out of the one dim sum restaurant in town, we drove almost forty-minutes to eat lunch there and waited almost an hour just to get seated. Chinese food, particularly dim sum, was a rarity and a treat to go to. They could have served us absolute crap, and as long as it came in a little metal steamer on a steam cart with the title of “dim sum”, we’d probably eat it.
There are now more dim sum places, four major restaurants particularly. However, the top two (in my humble opinion) are thankfully located only fifteen minutes from my house. Truthfully, sometimes even the top dim sum restaurants can have hit-or-miss days, but it’s always a treat to get to go choose little Chinese treats off a steaming cart. My friend J.K was visiting from Dallas, and I wanted to take her to something that she couldn’t find too much there. The things we ordered at East Pearl included but are not limited to:
- pork spare ribs in black bean sauce
- white radish cake
- white rice noodle wrapped over chinese crueller
- shrimp and scallop dumplings
- shrimp shumai
Pork Spare Ribs (in black bean sauce)
- came out warm (if it’s not hot and it’s off a steaming cart, you must have gotten the top plate – ask for a bottom or middle one!)
- not overly salty
- meat was very tender: some places can have a really chewy spare rib
- could have a little thicker cuts of spare ribs. I want to say that the spare ribs at Golden House, just down the road, has more meat on this dish.
White Radish Cake: blended with rice flour and mixed with bits of roast pork and sometimes dried shrimp, these pieces are then pan fried and served hot. They do not come off a steaming cart but rather a large round flat hot pan.
- good quantity: these three squares are very filling just for one person. It’s definitely meant more for sharing. However, they do take some getting used to for those who are not familiar with the texture of this cake.
- evenly seasoned: not overly salty
- too much water and flour: the cake was breaking apart when served which meant that the restaurant was trying to be cheap on the daikon. This dish is made with a combination of rice flour, water, salt, and shredded/pulped daikon. When it’s falling apart, there is usually too much water.
- not enough daikon flavor: there is a flavor to each vegetable and when you try to water it down or cheapen it with more flour, you lose that taste. Bad form.
White Rice Noodle Wrapped over Chinese Crueller: this dish is also served with sweet barbecue pork tenderloin (Charsiu) or with shrimp and served with a sweetened soy ssauce. Definitely one of my favorites!
- Crueller was still crispy: sometimes it can sit in the noodle so long that it becomes soggy from its own oil
- filling: it’s about 1.5 crueller’s worth wrapped in flat rice noodle
- no fried scallions! These are usually served with a nice generous topping of deep fried scallions (not breaded). This gives a nice earthy sweet flavor to the dish and complements the sweet saltiness of the soy sauce. Unfortunately this did not have it this time.
Shrimp Scallop Dumplings: my favorite kinds are usually just the plain shrimp dumplings, but these are pretty close to those.
- generous with the filling: some places will only give a little small piece of scallop, or a quarter of a scallop. These dumplings had a good portion of scallop and a nice 50/50 ratio of shrimp to scallop.
- good flavor: not over steamed so that the seafood flavor is completely lost.
- none really. Maybe one more dumpling would be better for even numbers of people at the table.
Shrimp Shumai: these are a little different because they are wrapped with a wonton wrapper instead of a rice noodle based wrapper. They tend to be a little thinner as well with the peel.
- even number of dumplings! — this only helps if there are even numbers of people eating haha.
- generous with the stuffing: for some reason, the shrimp shumai at Japanese restaurants are always so much smaller and way too sweet
- thinner wrapper: makes for more filling and less carbs (although admittedly, I love my rice wrappers/dumpling peels)
- peas (this is more of a personal vendetta against peas, especially frozen ones. Fresh peas are fine though)
And that’s that for dim sum at East Pearl! To be fair, we did have lunch fairly late, approximately 1pm. By that time, most of the business of dim sum restaurants have died down. It’s not to say that there aren’t any carts being pushed around, but many times you have to personally request specific dishes. It’s not to the advantage of a newbie dim sum eater. Also, there were only two of us eating. Since dim sum is eaten on a shared-basis, only a limited number of things can be selected for consumption which makes it hard to try different things with such a small party. That being said, overall I’d give the experience and food ***.75 (3.75) stars. I’ll have to go back to Golden House and rate that again. You can find East Pearl here: