Finally, after a long hiatus, ChineseBites is back! This time, we were invited to revisit to Pearl Castle Cafe to try out some of their new menu items. We were treated to their new bubbleteas as well as some of their new rice and hot pot dishes. The owners provided the food and drinks for our group.
The three drinks in the back are the new ones, all topped with a fluffy ball of cotton candy, only available at their main location (Continental Centre) as of Mid-June. The first one is Sunset Love, a fruity concoction of orange, pineapple and peach juice, topped with the cotton candy. The Blue Sky is next, topped with matching blue cotton candy with a base of blue tangerine, calpis (an un-carbonated soda with yogurt-like flavours from Japan) and pop. The last of the new ones is the Young Girl's Dream with a billowy pink cotton candy. It also has calpis and pop, but is mixed with a bit of grenadine. The cotton candy does deflate over time, so be sure to start with that!
Of the ones in the bottom row, I had the first one on the left, the Pudding Milk Tea. I found it a bit sweet, but I still liked it. I would have added some pearls though. The next one is Coconut Red Bean. Two green teas follow, one is a Peach Lemon version, and the next is with Red Bean. The next two are new offerings as well, both featuring jelly noodles. The first is a Black Tea sweetened with brown sugar followed by the Wintermelon Juice. There is a Green Lattea (pun intended!), as well as a Taro Green Milk Tea, also new this season. The Roasted Rice Lattea completes the lineup.
And last but not least, the one on the far right is the Ferrero Rocher chocolate milkshake...complete with the chocolate as well as Nutella. Amazing...and uber sweet. And if you look at the bottom of the Wintermelon Juice, you'll see the Jelly Noodles.
Now...onto the food! The little Taiwanese Sausages are less fatty than the North American ones. Made with pork, and simply seared, this was a good start to the meal. I can see this going really well with a beer.
Another favourite appetizer of mine is the Wonton with Chili Sauce. The wontons were a touch dry and the skins seemed a little thick, or perhaps a bit underdone? I love my food extra spicy, so this didn't have enough heat for me, but might be hot enough for some.
Next up is a trio of fried appetizers. This is the Fried Tofu, simply battered and deep fried. These are pretty standard but the side of kimchi was refreshing.
I've never actually tried Abalone Mushroom, but I'm willing to try it, now that it's deep-fried! The breading is light, and the mushroom inside was really juicy. I really liked this, and would like to try making this at home, probably not deep-fried, but maybe braised with other mushrooms?
And last of the deep-fried goodness is the Fried Fish Cake. It's dense, chewy and a great blend of sweet and salty. The texture was super bouncy and really didn't need any accompaniments. Oh, and I liked that none of their fried dishes were overly oily.
This is their Milk Seafood & Pork Hot Pot. A mixture of seafood, prawns, squid and fish are slow cooked together with some pork in a creamy milk-based soup. The whole pot is then kept heated at your table. Add the soup to your rice and this pot is comforting, soothing and very substantial for one person. I'd get an extra bowl of rice and just share this between two people!
This is a real old-school way of braising chicken, the Three-Cup Chicken, so named not because each of the ingredients are measured in cups, rather, it is so named to indicate that the three sauce ingredients (sesame oil, Chinese rice wine, and soy sauce) are used in equal amounts. Basil is also an essential part of this dish and it's definitely present here as well. These little nuggets of chicken are soft and tender. I liked that some pieces were bone-in, giving the dish a rustic feel.
This is another dish featuring the Abalone Mushroom Braised with Three Spices. This was really juicy, and after trying the mushroom done in this manner, I'll definitely be giving it a try at home, a great idea for Meatless Mondays!
Looking to ward off vampires and the common cold? Give this Garlic Sauce Chicken a try...just at a glance, there are over a dozen whole garlic cloves and loads of finely chopped garlic. And you can be sure there are more than what the eye can see. It's very similar to the Three-Cup Chicken, with the added extra of the garlic and green onions.
Kimchi rears its head again in this Kimchi Seafood Fried Udon. With all the dishes so far being served with rice, this noodle dish was a welcomed change. Not too spicy and loaded with seafood, this was more sour and spicy, but the texture of the noodles were bang on.
Yay, another noodle dish! This time is the Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup. I know everyone is still raving over ramen, but for me, these noodles are where it's at. The soup has hints of cilantro and star anise, a very pleasant blend of flavours. If you haven't tried this before, you'll be in for a surprise.
Now onto the NEW items! First up is their Spicy Incense Pot. Loaded with seafood and various veggies, this potful really packs a punch...those chilies, man, they'll get you every time. If you are sensitive to heat, I highly recommend staying away from the actual chilies themselves. They render much of their heat into the heated pot. And I suggest you leave this towards the end of the meal, because the flavours of this will likely overwhelm more delicate dishes.
Another new dish is the Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice. This was tasty, but I've never been a fan of fruit in savory dishes. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed the dish with the pineapple chunks. After adding a few sprinkles of hot sauce, this dish takes on a whole new flavour.
An offshoot of their fan favourite, the Milk Seafood & Pork Hot Pot is their Curry Coconut Seafood & Pork Hot Pot. It's essentially the same dish with the addition of curry flavours and coconut milk. The flavours are really mild, so if you think you are not a fan of curries, give it a try. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the sweetness underlying the whole dish.
This is one of two new rice dishes, the Marinated Chicken with Rice, served with a side of tofu and some veggies, this is easily a one-pot wonder. I didn't really care for the warmed salad, but other than that, the dish had enough interesting textures and flavours to be worth a try. I would have like a bit more sauce and for the chicken to be a touch crispier, but other than that, no complaints.
Whew! And for the final dish, we have the Marinated Pork with Rice. Essentially the same flavours and accompaniments as the chicken dish, it is similarly satisfying.
Many patrons of Pearl Castle Cafe have a short list of their favourites but with the addition of these new dishes, give them a revisit and you might find a new favourite!
Address: Continental Centre, 1128-3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond
Phone Number: (604) 270-3939
Website: on Facebook