Friday, September 24, 2010

Oriental Pearl




5399 New Peachtree Rd., Chamblee, GA 770/986-9866

Last night Kyle, John, Amr and our new friend Kelly had dinner at Oriental Pearl. John is a huge foodie who will eat just about anything, and he has raved about this place for months. I have been to this restaurant twice in the past, but the last time I was there was at least 4 years ago, so I agreed to start afresh.

Let's start with what I really loved: The grouper. This restaurant knows how to cook grouper, in more ways than one. First there's the excellent grouper with black bean sauce. Tender fish, good vegetables, fantastic black bean sauce. Then there's the grouper soup with 1000 year foo. 1000 years? Surely that's an exaggeration . . . sounds like something Andrew Zimmern would tackle. Anyway, the grouper is in the soup is great, the broth is fragrant and the "foo" (I think this is an egg of some sort) was interesting, in a good way.

Another big hit was the baby bok choy with garlic sauce. Kyle and I prepare a similar recipe at home with Vietnamese stir-fry sauce, and this was almost as good. Almost.

What I wasn't crazy about: the conch with XO sauce. The sauce was very good, but the conch was tough. The spinach with garlic sauce was overly wilted. The pork spare ribs in black bean sauce were chewy, and full of fat. I tasted it and immediately discarded it.

The filet mignon with black pepper sauce could not have possibly been filet mignon, but it was still pretty good. I think renaming it to simply "steak with black pepper sauce" would give customers the right expectations and consequently leave a better impression. John also highly recommends the snow pea leaves, but I can't vouch for this as the restaurant was out of the dish last night.

Unlike John, I don't think that Oriental Pearl is better than Tasty China in Marietta (previously reviewed on 12/29/09). I think the flavors are more intense at Tasty China, and that Tasty has more mouthwatering, memorable items than Oriental Pearl. Don't get me wrong - I liked it, and I liked it better than I remembered from dining there years ago. It's moderately priced, (dishes range from about $10 to $23) and the service is good. And they serve really great, super fragrant jasmine tea. It's just not my favorite.

Verdict: Good Chinese food in Chamblee. Love the grouper.

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