Pearl Liang is in the large Paddington Central development, a set of connected modern flats near the railway station. If travelling by car, actually getting there is an interesting experience, since the restaurant is tucked away within the complex. We were greeted at the barrier by a very helpful security guard who directed us to the parking for the complex, a short drive away. When we arrived there we were hailed by another guard who evidently had been alerted to us coming, and sent us off down a maze of deserted roads past assorted bulldozers and other heavy earth-moving equipment that finally led to a car park disconcertingly marked “private”. From there we made our way to a glass elevator, up a story to a concrete amphitheatre, along the side of which were a few shops and our goal, the Pearl Liang.
If you make it past all this, the restaurant itself is a pleasant surprise. The room has an attractive bar on the right as you enter, the large dining room being mostly to the left. Little red lanterns hand from the ceiling, and there is an attractive mural along one long wall. The floor is tiled and the upholstery is bright pink. The menu is fairly conventional Cantonese. The wine list has Louis Roederer champagne at a very fair £44, and a decent selection of mostly French wines. Jasmine tea was of good quality. I was wondering if we might be the only diners given the journey, but the place had a decent sprinkling of customers, many of whom were Chinese. There was some rather over-loud muzak playing.
We started with soups: hot and sour, and crab meat and sweetcorn. These were both very pleasant, the hot and sour soup having a pleasant stock and nicely balanced flavours (12/20). A prawns and chive dumpling had tender prawn filling, though the texture of the dumpling was a little heavy (12/20). A wasabi prawn steamed dumpling had similar characteristics. Better were the main courses. Steamed sea bass was served off the bone, with black bean sauce and a garnish of fresh coriander. The bass was extremely well cooked, the flesh of just the right consistency, while the sauce did not overwhelm the fish (14/20). Gai lan (here called “kai lan”) was light steamed with garlic, and tasted fresh, with lovely consistency (14/20). Singapore noodles had good texture (13/20), while egg fried rice was also fine (13/20).
Service was excellent throughout, very attentive and friendly. Overall, a place which exceeded my expectations. I am not sure how well it will do commercially given its eccentric location, but the cooking deserves a wider audience than I suspect it will get.