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Pearl Liang, Paddington, a good antidote to a breastfeeding seminar

After a 3 hour seminar on breastfeeding, my lovely wife and I were somewhat peckish. As it was about 5:30 we wwere unsure where to go as many places wouldn't have opened yet or would be changing over shifts. We thought some Queensway chinese would be good but since the neverending roadworks it is impossible to park near there. I then remembered Pearl Liang up at the Paddington basin and we drove up there. We parked pretty nearby but the walk to the restaurant was horrendous, it was freezing last night especially at the top of the railway bridge. My wife was less than impressed by the lack of lift to take you down to the restaurant. It did look rather desolate when we arrived and it was unclear if they were open as it appeared the staff were having dinner at the bar. However it appeared they were indeed open and in we strode.

The deco inside can be best described as rich and opulent. they have been clever to avoid the dubious attractions of windows with views out onto the West Way in favour of a large contained dining room with a couple of private rooms. We were shown to a nice table for two. Service was obviously swapping over for the day but we were taken care of pretty promptly. We decided to go for standard starters (seaweed , spring rolls) along with a few bits of dim sum (sesame prawn rolls, pork puffs) and a truly excellent ribs in plum sauce. The food took a little while to arrive but we were happy sipping our tea and chattinfg. The food was worth the wait the dim sum was very nice. the pork puffs in particular were excellent. The portions on the other starters were huge but reflected in the price.

We followed this with some crispy shredded beef, sweet and sour chicken, pak choi and ginger, fried rice and singapore noodles. Again huge portions and pretty good. We did send the beef back as it wasn't warn enough but it was soon replaced. When it did come back it was very nice, crispy rather than sticky. The sweet and sour chicken was really good as well bursting with flavour but made with soft tender chicken. I felt the singapore noofdles needed a touch more heat and the rice was a bit non descript. The veg was very good I wish I could cook my pak choi at home like this. Unsuprisingly we had loads left over so the boxed it up for us.

We were really too full for desert but I saw they had chilled mango pudding and my wife spotted the banana friters. We felt that with the prospect of impending parenthood we should treat ourselves. The mango pudding was lovely, perfectly set and sprinkled with little pieces of mango. My wife enjoyed her fritters which weren't over sickly. again she didn't finish the portion and we took the rest home. All through the meal the service had been really friendly as well as efficient. It was certainly more "Mandarin kitchen" than "Royal China" in that respect. Perhaps a couple of things could have been improved like using warm plates, a cover for the rice and noodles so they don't lose heat at the table but overall I felt the staff cared and were learning on the job.

The meal for two came to a £100 which was expensive but then we did overorder and portions were huge. Certain dishes are better value than others. Some of the starters cost the same as the mains. However the food looked and tasted good. The big question though is how it compares to the Royal China. Well I would see it is close on most of the dishes and some like the pork puffs are better here. To really compare I would need to come back for a proper Dim Sum lunch. One big plus is that they do do Dim Sum in the evening which is nice. One the way out I noticed they did a very good lunch deal which must be a good draw for those working in the basin. I think it would be fairest to compare it to the Royal China at Canary Wharf and Pearl Liang offers more. I will definetly come back but on a warmer evening the walk back to the car was bitter!

Monday, March 08, 2010
Overall rating
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 7

Terroirs, Charing Cross

Langan's Bistro, Marylebone, no longer with us