At the beginning of August, the ChineseBites.com family met up for our first series dinner in Richmond at the immensely popular Pearl Castle Cafe. Well-known for their diverse array of bubble tea and tasty food specials, we were treated to 12 dishes off the regular menu along with an endless supply of colorful drinks.
To start our dinner off, we were served a couple plates of Fried Tofu – 炸豆腐. This turned out to be a great starter as the pieces were light and not greasy while the accompanying sauce was simply addictive. A small portion of kimchi was also served alongside this dish which was refreshing and added that additional punch of flavour.
Our second dish was also a starter of sorts in the form of Fried red-fermented pork – 台式炸紅糟肉. As a very popular item in Chinese cafes, these slender cuts of pounded pork were delightfully crispy and easy to consume. You can either eat this dish alone or wait for a bowl of rice as the pork can be a little salty.
After quickly polishing off our two starters, we were served the first of two chicken dishes: Garlic sauce chicken – 蒜子雞. The pieces of chicken were perfectly cooked and extremely tender. Along with a large bowl of white rice and assorted vegetables, this special is definitely quite generous in terms of portioning. There is a bit of heat to this dish which will appeal to those that enjoy spicy food.
The second of the chicken specials was the Chicken with three spices – 三杯雞. Similar in many ways to the above dish, this offering is not as spicy as the Garlic sauce chicken but still very flavourful. It can be ordered in the same format as the above combo so those with large appetites would be advised to consider these two offerings.
Immediately following the two chicken specials were two noodle items. Served in a massive serving bowl was the House special beef noodle – 原汁牛肉麵. I was absolutely in love with how tender the chunks of beef were in both noodle dishes. The cuts were large and numerous and went beautifully with the wide noodles. For me personally, I enjoyed the beef on white rice with a few spoonfuls of the broth.
The second bowl of noodles was the Tomato beef noodle – 番茄牛肉麵. With the addition of the fresh cuts of tomato, this noodle dish came off a tad sweeter than the previous but was still quite good. Again, the tender cuts of beef really make this order worth it as the meat is tender and quite abundant.
The next dish was one of my favourites of the night, Chicken teriyaki fried rice – 照燒雞肉炒飯. The pieces of teriyaki meat were super tender and infused with a smokiness that I loved. This dish reminded me of eating chicken skewers with rice when I am back in Asia, the combination really is quite good.
Going really well with the first two starters of the night were two plates of Taiwanese sausage – 台式香腸. Surprisingly this offering was not as salty as I thought it was going to be as I was able to munch a few pieces without discomfort. The accompanying sauce was also very appetizing and paired well with the meat.
One of the most unique courses of the night was the Milk seafood hot pot – 牛奶海鮮鍋. I have had hot pot many times but this was the first time with this type of soup base. The seafood was fresh and surprisingly the milk base did work for me although I prefer to stick with the more classic stock broths.
Served right after the milk hot pot was a more conventional offering: Kimchi seafood hot pot – 什錦泡菜鍋. I much preferred this order over the previous one as the flavours were bolder and more complimentary to the seafood. In both hot pots, there was a large quantity of contents so these particular dishes can be easily shared between 2-3 people.
The second last dish of the night was a heaping serving of Kung-paw shrimp – 宮保蝦球. Eaten with a bowl of rice, the shrimp were plump and matched well with the sweet onions and red chilli peppers. I enjoyed the moderate level of heat but will advise patrons not to bite into the peppers unless they have a very high spice tolerance.
The last dish of the meal was a large plate of Seafood fried noodle – 海鮮炒麵. I was too full to sample this plate personally but from the comments of my dining companions, the noodles were quite tasty. Overall, there were no bad dishes throughout our dinner which is impressive as we sampled so many. I will admit I was not expecting that high a level of food quality but was pleasantly taken aback by how good the food was at Pearl Castle Cafe. If you have yet to try this modern, spacious cafe tucked behind Aberdeen Mall in Richmond, definitely swing by and try one of their many food specials.