Pearl Chinese (3215 Avent Ferry Rd Raleigh, NC 27606-2720) is dwarfed by its much more cheerful neighbors: the NC DMV and the U.S. Post office, both vacuums of beauty hope and everything that is good about the world. But don’t be fooled by the surrounding student slums, the pawn shop, or the most ghetto looking Food Lion in Raleigh, Pearl Chinese is worth a second look.
I don’t work far from Centennial Campus, so I often patronize area businesses, but finding one I like is often a rather tall order. Honestly, before I heard about Pearl from a couple of workmates I didn’t even know there was anything on that part of Avent Ferry. Expecting nothing, I was pleasantly surprised the first time I happened upon this place and below I talk about my experiences during my second visit.
The establishment itself doesn’t look like much; filled with slightly kitschy Asian themed decor that includes an indoor fountain, an aquarium, and rather gaudy bright red seat cushions with a grandma-ish clear plastic coating. So yah, long story short, the decor isn’t ornate or even well done, but it’s definitely comfortable to sit down at one of the tables and enjoy a meal.
It is unnecessary to talk about the service, because this is basically a takeout place so I will proceed directly to the food. It is important to note, however, that my meal including a soda cost only about $6.50.
Both times I’ve gone here I have gotten the shredded hot and spicy chicken which is a combination of shredded chicken, green peppers, and onions with a nice spicy and lightly sweet sauce. The sauce is a nice blend of vinegar and sweet with just a enough bite from the hot peppers to make it interesting. The veggies were all crunchy and flavorful as well, and as a whole it blended well with the pork fried rice I had ordered. I do enjoy this dish, but my one complaint is that I wish it had more kick. The menu indicated spicy so I assumed I would be grabbing for my drink after a couple of bites, but sadly this was not the case. I know that Chinese places often dumb down their dishes for the American palette, and this may be the case for this one. Hopefully this problem can be alleviated by asking for extra spicy in the future. As whole though, I would say the dish was well seasoned and constructed, and I would definitely have it again.
As far as I’m concerned, Pearl Chinese is a great place to grab some tasty and inexpensive Chinese food on the fly. It is charming by virtue of its simplicity and unassuming nature, and the food can sometimes surprise you by the complexity of its flavor.
So I was wondering if anybody else out there in intraweb land knows any other Triangle restaurants that aren’t much to look at but turned out to be surprisingly good?