I've only heard about Pearl River Cafe when an acquaintance invited me for a meal. Unfortunately, I wasn't available back then, so it was only recently through the TriNoma Food Crawl co-presented by Yummy Magazine that I got a preview of what this restaurant is all about. It's still a mystery as how Pearl River Cafe came to be as there's only limited information about the restaurant on the internet. But as I'm still intrigued after the food tour, I decided to bring my little sister here to try more of their Cantonese fare.
Pearl River Cafe is located at the 4th level, the upper-most, of the Trinoma garden. It's not easy to spot as it's at the farthest end even past Cyma. But despite its location, the interior of the restaurant is pretty enticing. Dining space is not that big, but the clean contemporary décor with wooden accents, lit-up shelves lined with porcelain vases, and beautiful hanging crystal lights make the place conducive for intimate dining. They also have a private section near the entrance perfect for guests coming in groups of 8 to 10.
|Photo grabbed from Pearl River Cafe's Facebook Page|
The slogan on their door-front says it all. But since we're not up for noodles or congee that evening, we made our visit a time to feast on dimsum! Yay!
My sister ordered this chiu-chao or Teochew dumpling with shrimp, pork belly bits and assorted vegetables like garlic chives and jicama encased in a starchy wrapper. I wasn't able to take a bite off of any piece of this dumpling since my sister wolfed it down like a boss. She didn't even tell me if it's any good. However, if I based it on her actions, then this looked like it got my shobe's stamp of approval.
|Steamed Chiu-Chao Dumpling with Shrimp, Pork Belly and Vegetables (P99)|
This is one of two items I got to try at the Trinoma Food Crawl, so I already know that my little sister would love this. Unlike other shrimp siomai that's mostly made up of extenders, this four-piece basket contains siomai that's juicy, meaty and oozing with shrimp goodness. Even without any soy sauce, every bite is already flavorful on its own. Too bad though I can't eat much since I'm still intolerant to crustaceans. Sigh.
|✓ Steamed Crab Roe and Shrimp Shaomai (P99)|
Since I was more than slightly hungry that evening, I got myself this serving of steamed buns or siopao asado. Though they were quite small compared to commercial steamed buns, I like that they're sliced to show off some of the filling. The barbecue pork inside has good flavor -- slightly sweet and more savory, although not too generous portion-wise. The buns though were a little too thick and a little too dense.
|Steamed Bun with Barbecue Pork (P99)|
Still needing more carbs, I ordered this glutinous rice item in lotus leaf a.k.a. ma-chang 肉粽. The rice here is very fragrant with mushrooms, pieces of chicken and some bits of barbecue pork tucked in. The meat toppings were not much in quantity, but it can already be expected since most ma-chang really don't have much meat toppings. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable and definitely filled my hungry stomach.
|Steamed Glutinous Rice with Chicken, Barbecue Pork in Lotus Leaf (P129)|
For dessert, we had these hedgehog-shaped custard buns with salted egg filling. My sister was so excited to try this when this basket was served on our table. Who wouldn't after seeing these adorable treats? It was a little different upon biting on it though. Although the filling was really good taste-wise, we found it a little too scarce for the thick bun. And like with the steamed pork buns, the buns here were too dense yet again.
|Steamed Bun with Custard Paste and Salted Egg (P65)|
If only they'd tweak the flour to water ratio to improve the texture of their buns and put more filling, I wouldn't mind paying more for these tasty little suckers!
For drinks, my sister had the very aromatic and clean-tasting green iced tea, while I had the zesty and summery passionberry herbal tea. Both these beverages surprised us as we didn't expect Pearl River Cafe to serve this quality of iced tea drinks. They were really good and weren't too sweet which we really appreciated.
|✓ Serene Green Iced Tea (P68) and ✓ Passionberry Fruit Tisane (P68)|
Since it was almost dinner time, we figured we should order a few items to take home to our family. Of course, it means "dinner round 2" for us too. Teehee!
|Our picks for take-out~|
- Steamed Fish in Garlic (P199) - Decent quality for fish fillet in soy-garlic sauce.
- Barbecue Pork (P109) - Sweet, savory and tender. Pretty good!
- Fried Golden Rice with Assorted Mushrooms and Egg White (P199) - We originally wanted the one with scallops, but since it wasn't available, we settled for this variant instead. This is your standard Chinese fried rice with more mushrooms.
- ✓ Steamed Shrimp Dumpling (P99) - Very enjoyable and had plump shrimps like how a hakaw should.
- Congee with Century Egg and Pork (P129) + Assorted Mushrooms and More Century Egg (P30) - Ordered it for our dad and he seemed to like it. It was also nice of the restaurant to grant my request of adding more century egg and including mushrooms in the serving.
Their prices are generally wallet-friendly, especially if you consider mall restaurant price tags. But I just recently found out that Pearl River Cafe has an on-going deal on sale at Metrodeal. This is not a sponsored post in any way, by the way. I just incidentally came across the deal when researching about the resto. Anyway, I think I'll be buying a voucher for future use. Teehee!
Although I was initially unsure if I'd like Pearl River Cafe, after this visit, I'm more than certain that I'll be going back again. Most Chinese restaurants in malls have failed to impress me, but with Pearl River Cafe specializing in Cantonese cuisine, it definitely piqued my interest. It also helps that they got the flavors down. Everything we had was tasty and worth ordering a second time. However, I'm really bothered by how dense their steamed buns are. Seriously, if they just consider improving those dense and obviously water-needing buns, and become more generous with the filling, they'll get more rave reviews. Nevertheless, with their generally satisfying food, good beverage selection and great service, this is an affordable Cantonese restaurant I clearly have my eyes on.
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Pearl River Cafe, Trinoma
4/L (Garden) Trinoma, North Ave. cor. Mindanao Ave.,
Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines