It had been ages since I had been out for yum cha so I got a couple of friends together to try out Pearl Garden restaurant in Newmarket.
Pearl Garden has been around since 1975 and several generations of the family still work in the business everyday – probably the secret to their success. That and their commitment to good food made with fresh ingredients. Pearl Garden made it onto the Top 10 Yum Cha list in the recent Metro Cheapeats awards (of which Alexia and I were guests on the judging team), so I definitely wanted to give it a try.
It is located in the trendy fashion area of Teed Street, a welcome respite from all that retail therapy. Take the elevator to the first floor or walk the stairs to the restaurant on the first floor. On the first visit the place was packed out so we were definitely glad that we had made a booking. It was less busy on the second visit, probably because we arrived towards the end of the yum cha service. In fact, the second time around we ordered our food off the yum cha menu, rather than selecting items off trays or trolleys. Rather disconcerting, as I like the surprise element of what could be coming out of the kitchen next.
Our group of four munched our way through coriander dumplings, prawn dumplings, salt and pepper squid, choy sum (greens), taro slice, and my favourite here, the barbecued pork.
All the dishes were good – the dumplings were freshly steamed, the squid was a generous serving of crispy pieces of squid, the greens had that vivid depth of colour that only quick cooking produces and the taro slice a nice counterpoint of smooth texture. My favourite at Pearl Garden (so far) was the barbecued pork. Think a generous serving of pork that has been marinated so that it has a sticky coating on it when cooked. It arrives thinly sliced on the plate, with a sweet sauce and a sprinkle of peanuts. Absolutely delicious and very moreish!
We also managed to drink our way through two pots of tea. We were all satisfied with our meal, which was just as well as no one came to check that we were OK or if we wanted to order more. However, we could have flagged someone down if we had wanted. The grand total for our yum cha for four was $56, which works out to $14 per person, so good value in anyone’s books!
Pearl Garden offers yum cha every day from 11am-3pm, and also offers “tapas” and some yum cha dishes late in the afternoon which makes it a convenient lunch stop when shopping in Newmarket or a place for a bite to eat prior to going to the movies.
In the evening Pearl Garden converts to an a la carte menu, with prices slightly more than our Cheapeats budget allows. Take advantage of the great prices at lunch time and book in for a yum cha lunch soon!