The Pink Pearl restaurant is something of a local institution. It feels like it’s been there on East Hastings forever. Actually, our family remembers the original location of the Pink Pearl. It started in North Vancouver at the Westview Shopping Plaza in the early 1980s. We lived in North Vancouver at the time, and Pink Pearl was one of the very few authentic Chinese restaurants on the north shore. It relocated to its current location in the mid-late 1980s.
I remember that in the 1980s, there were only a handful of restaurants that did dim-sum, so those few often boasted absurdly long lines. The doors would open and by 10:30 am, there would be a line up that was 45 minutes long. Pink Pearl was one of those restaurants. Those days are gone now (at least for Cantonese dim sum. I notice there are Shanghainese restaurants where this still happens).
A fire ravaged the restaurant in 2009, and it remained closed for three years, apparently due to a protracted fight with the insurance company over their claim. But they finally reopened in June of 2012, and Mom decided she had to go back and try their dim-sum again.
This is one of the few places left in town that still serve dim-sum using the push carts.
The dining space in Pink Pearl is cavernous. The main room can easily seat 250 or more, and there’s a secondary room that can seat another 50 or so. On this particular weekend, the main room was at about one-quarter capacity at most. We were seated immediately and the first cart of food stopped by.
all prawn spring rolls. These were crisp and stuffed with all prawns (which seemed to be a combination of whole prawns and minced prawn paste with bamboo shoots. These were tasty, crisp and not overly oily.
steamed pork spare ribs with garlic, fermented black beans, and squash. These were fairly tender and tasty, with saltiness from the black beans.
steamed prawn dumplings (aka “har gow”). These were a little disappointing. The prawns inside were nicely cooked and slightly sweet, but the rice flour wrappers were a little thick and kinda sticky. Seems they absorbed a bit too much moisture in the steamer.
steamed sticky rice with chicken and chinese sausage. This was pretty good, the sticky rice was cooked all the way through and soft to the bite, the stuffing of chicken, minced pork and chinese sausage was properly seasoned, moist and tender.
baked egg custard tarts. These didn’t look that impressive, but upon first bite, I was impressed. These are terrific egg tarts. The pastry shell was warm and very flaky. The custard was soft and creamy, slightly sweet, with just the right amount of eggy flavour.
It’s been a long time since visiting the Pink Pearl. Even before closing due to fire, I don’t think I’d been there since the late 1990’s. It’s good to see the place back, and the food (at least the dim sum) doesn’t seem to have suffered in the process.