Pearl Chinese Cuisine
11666 Avena Place
Rancho Bernardo, CA 92128
My wife Leslie and I are celebrating our nineteenth wedding anniversary one day this week. Unfortunately my job is calling me out of town and we will not get a chance to be together that evening.
She has been in Texas visiting her brother and I picked her up at the airport last night. She didn't have the greatest flight, sandwiched in a middle seat both ways, but did enjoy her time with her brother very much. I was starving when I picked her up, thinking Chinese but she still wasn't hungry as I slowly drove up Convoy looking for something that looked good and I forlornly passed Jasmine and headed back on the freeway.
When we got to Rancho Bernardo I made my move. We had heard about Pearl Chinese Cuisine for several years but had never dined there. Located at the location of the old Anthony's, the parking lot was packed as we approached. This would be a substitute for our anniversary dinner.
We were greeted by a tall and beautiful hostess and quickly seated at a table covered with white linen. The seats were also white and quite comfortable. The first thing I noted was how extensive the seafood menu is, filled with some of the same exotics I see in San Francisco goose webbing included.
Pearl is primarily a dim sum place I believe, but the normal dinner fare was quite intriguing. We were served delicious chrysanthemum tea and ordered a honey glazed barbecue pork appetizer. Leslie was not real hungry and we decided to only order a few things this time.
Her pick was the clay pot chicken curry. I ordered crab in garlic but the server came back to tell me that there was no more crab and anyway the ginger was better. I said fine change it to lobster and hold the scallions.
I went to the men's room to wash my hands and noticed the chipped wood on the plate stand. The bathroom was not filthy but was a long way from spotless. Not a good sign. I came back and Leslie took her turn to freshen up. The staff at Pearl was super friendly all night, very genuine.
While she was gone they brought our prospective entrée to the table. Mr. Lobster looked healthy and as happy as one could expect considering the circumstances and I said okay, fine. In a few moments I had a reality flash and inquired just how much the grabby crustacean was going to set me back. "Two and a half pounder," she said. "Seventy two bucks." I gulped but didn't want to appear the cheap skate. What the hell, it was our anniversary. At that moment I felt my back pocket and realized that I was out of cash and my sweet wife would be picking this one up.
I am going to make this short and sweet. The meal pretty much sucked. Pork was dry and tough. The chicken curry was ghastly, sour and frankly inedible. The lobster sure didn't show its weight for being a two and a half pounder, looked more like a 19 ounce weakling. And it wasn't all that good. Certain parts of it also had a curious sour taste, the one lasting memory I will have from this meal. I should mention that they don't give you nutcrackers and meat was hard to find and recover.
The acrid taste of the food meshed well with the omnipresent mothball smell that I had been trying to put my finger on the whole meal. Very unappetizing.
We, or should I say, she, asked for a bill. They brought us a bland mango pudding and some orange slices for dessert and we paid our check and sashayed on into the night.
Would probably never return.