Pearl, San Diego

Pearl Chinese Cuisine
11666 Avena Place
San Diego, CA 92128

No matter what kind of celebration is at hand, Chinese people have plenty of food for the occasion. Whether it’s for a wedding, birthday, childbirth, holiday, or even to mark the passing of a loved one, large scale and multigenerational gatherings featuring 8+ courses of food is commonplace.

The celebration of my cousin once removed’s birthday was no exception. The meal also turned out to be my last one with a dear cousin of mine. Given that my cousin loved good food, even if it wasn’t quite Chinese banquet food, it was strangely fitting that my last meal with her would be filled with family and delectable dishes.


We had, in order:

– a chiu chow cold plate platter (consisting of jellyfish, marinated duck, ham slices, preserved duck eggs for longevity, and shrimp)
– fried shrimp balls with craw claws
– something like shark fin soup but with fish maw instead of shark fin (as shark fin is banned in California)
– steamed whole fish (for prosperity)
– lobster baked and simmered in broth
– abalone with shitake mushrooms and mustard greens
– sauteed boneless chicken with ham, mushrooms, and Chinese broccoli
– Peking duck (Cantonese style with steamed buns instead of flat crapes)
– plate of suckling roasted pork
– Fried rice topped with duck meat and seafood
– dessert, consisting of mochi filled with peanut paste and sesame balls with red bean paste

More courses!

Needless to say, in our table of 8 cousins, we could not clear our lazy susans fast enough and had plenty to box for extra meals at home. It was almost all quite delicious. The abalone, while being the least popular dish at the table, was nicely done and not as overcooked as you would find in other Cantonese seafood restaurants. The roast pork is sublime, as usual. The fish was nicely done and the sweet soy sauce marinade they serve it in is heavenly. I also loved the chicken, ham, and vegetables which were nice and light with the extra bowls of rice we ordered. As for the items less deserving of attention, I thought the appetizer platter was ho hum and the peking duck to be good but unevenly sliced (some pieces had too much meat and some was just skin, not even fat).

Service was decent, though the rapid fire churning of dishes and large tables meant a few soda orders were lost in translation. The price is hefty, though I didn’t pay. As I browsed Pearl’s website, this set comes out to $698 for a table of 10, without the extra roast pig, tax, or tip. Granted, Pearl is one of the most expensive Chinese restaurants in San Diego with quality of service and food to match. It is a must given the upper income clientele of area residents and business professionals that fills the restaurant.

All in all, it was great meal filled with wonderful food and good conversation. It’s what celebration with family should be like and I am glad my first meal with my cousin once removed and last meal with my cousin was here.


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