At the Quincy Avenue location of China Pearl, weekends provide an opportunity to celebrate with a varied and authentic Dim Sum feast in a banquet-sized hall packed with loyal patrons.
According to About.com, Dim Sum, which roughly translates to 'to touch the heart,' originally provided comfort food to travelers along the Silk Road in China.
On a dreary morning, as freezing rain fell on aging snowdrifts, the China Pearl's vast dining area did feel like a warm welcome at the end of a journey.
As soon as a party is seated, an appropriate number of pots of jasmine tea are placed on the table and the wait staff pushing dim sum carts through the dining room stop by to show their wares. Plates of sweets and carbo delights that make doughnuts look boring are stacked on one, steaming baskets of dumplings on others.
Using some restraint, and with the aid of a translated menu and helpful staff, our party decided on five dishes. Shrimp with chive dumplings are fried dumplings in won ton skins with sweet shrimp and savory chive. Shrimp with peapod tendril dumplings are steamed dumplings in a delicate white wrapper with the same sweet salad-sized shrimp and the fresh tendrils of pea plants.
Beef balls are a surprisingly light and non-greasy meatball mixed with greens. BBQ pork buns are a cloud-soft pillow of lightly sweetened dough stuffed with sweet and savory barbecued pork, Egg custard buns are a subtle alternative to a custard-filled doughnut.
Each plate came with at least three items. Although there was some left to take home, the BBQ pork buns disappeared and another order was added for take out. They are just that good.
The other end of the strip mall housing China Pearl is anchored by Kam Man, an enormous Asian grocery and department store. A shopper could find nearly all of the ingredients there to put together their own dim sum brunch, down to the bamboo steamers. But you might not want to try duplicating the BBQ pork buns. They may be made by demigods.