Pearl Liang is our favourite Chinese restaurant in London. They serve tasty food with a great level of service (not that we care much about service – but it’s nice to have) at a reasonable price (which we care about very much). They also do amazing yum cha (a.k.a. dim sum) – but that’s for another time.
First thing first, Peking duck:
This is my husband’s absolute favourite food in the whole world. His birthday meal request often suggests us going to a Chinese restaurant and order two Peking ducks. “One for you, and one for me”. Yup, he loves them.
The highlight of the show is the thinly-sliced-super-crispy duck skin. Some restaurants leave some meat attached to the skin, while others serve JUST skin (and the fat beneath it). You don’t get a say in how much meat you want or don’t want. Like most Asian restaurants, you eat what you get given, and love it. These crispy skins are served with thinly sliced spring onions and cucumber, hoisin sauce (this is the highlight for me, I LOVE hoisin sauce), and freshly-steamed “pancake”.
You simply take a pancake, smear some hoisin sauce on it (go easy first, they’re quite strong), top it with a skin or two, a few strands of spring onions, and a few pieces of sliced cucumber. Wrap it up like you would a spring roll. Pop it in your mouth and let the flavour-texture combination work their magic. The crunchy texture of the duck skin, the salty smoky hoisin sauce, the refreshing spring onions & cucumber, the grease running down your arm. HEAVEN.
IMPORTANT: we find ordering Peking duck in London can be confusing, and extra care MUST be taken. You see, back in New Zealand (where I’m from, not originally originally, but originally enough) when you order Peking duck, you get Peking duck. But in London, we’ve made the mistake of ordering something that SOUNDS like Peking duck in the menu, which turned out to NOT be Peking duck (i know, it should be made illegal) but some deep fried shredded duck meat instead. Please please double check with the waiter when you order and make absolutely sure it IS Peking duck you’re ordering.
One more thing, Peking duck in NZ gets the option of: 1, 2, or 3 courses. One course = duck skin with pancake. Two course = one course + duck meat cooked to your liking, typically stir-fried and wrapped with lettuce. Three course = two course + duck bone soup. This concept also doesn’t widely apply here. Either London hasn’t quite caught up with the program, or NZ has made up these course system themselves.
Ok, we can now move on to…… LOBSTER!!!
Now, we don’t normally order lobster (or any super expensive food items) – but we fell in love with the lobster we had here at Pearl Liang. And now we always look for an excuse to go here for a celebratory lobster. It’s fairly expensive (almost £40) and we’re not even sure if it’s “the best” lobster you can get or not (because we haven’t had lobsters anywhere else), so don’t take our words for it.
However, if you don’t know better, not a lobster guru, have spare cash, and not allergic to shellfish, then I highly recommend you try it. There are a few flavours you can order (black bean, garlic and chilli) but we always order ginger & spring onion gravy, served on a bed of egg noodles. Basically, we tried this variation and liked it, and don’t want to risk £40 on a flavour we may not like.
If you order lobster here, you immediately get a special weapon to help make your meal more enjoyable/practical:
You use the pointy bit to hook onto meat inside the shells and yank it out. I recommend pulling gently first and watch with immense satisfaction when the whole blob of lobster meat glides out in one piece from the shell. If that doesn’t work, repeatedly fluff out the meat instead. It’s more time consuming and you won’t get all the meat out, but you’ll have something to eat. Whatever you do, don’t try to crack the shell with your teeth. Just don’t.
Here are the noodles beneath the lobster pieces, soaked in a thick heavenly sauce of ginger & spring onion. The waiting staff will divide the portions equally between the diners. This prevents you from fighting for your favourite piece.
Here are some of the other dishes we’ve ordered here. But just take a pick from the menu, I’m sure it’s all good.
Menu, location, etc: http://www.pearlliang.co.uk/