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Restaurants

Pearl Harbourfront

Posted by Dawn Becker / Reviewed on June 8, 2010 / review policy

Pearl HarbourfrontThe view at Pearl Harbourfront is hard to beat. Overlooking the lake with a great view of the islands, there's no better way to enjoy delicate, hand-made dim sum dishes and a pot of select Chinese tea. On offer are tasty small plates of steamed dumplings and a variety of fried snacks central to the Cantonese tea house tradition of yum cha. Yum cha simply means "to drink tea" and eating dim sum is quintessential to the experience.

Pearl HarbourfrontTea options include jasmine, chrysanthemum, and of course the standard oolong. Meant to aid in digestion, tea is sipped alongside the meal. Orders are taken by marking up an order form that has both English and Chinese descriptions, versus the cacophony of hawkers rolling food carts. The bill is tracked on a card at the table. Small dishes cost $3.75, medium are $5.35, and large are $5.95.

Pearl HarbourfrontPearl HarbourfrontThe Har Kau or Shrimp Dumplings ($5.95) are the benchmark dim sum for any restaurant and these are packed with super sweet shrimp, then pleat folded into a wrapper and steamed till translucent. The Siu Mai ($5.35), a pork based dumpling inside an egg noodle wrapper and the Steamed Scallop Dumpling ($3.75) shown at top, are both good savoury choices.

Pearl HarbourfrontPearl HarbourfrontTender Steamed Beef Balls ($3.75) arrive next. Sitting on a liner of soft tofu skin, the beef balls are as light as air, a sign of quality, and served with Worcestershire sauce for dipping. I also order the Beef Cheung Foon ($5.35), rice noodles wrapped around minced beef and served with a sweet and salty soy sauce.

Pearl HarbourfrontPearl HarbourfrontWhile not for timid eaters, the Steamed Chicken Feet ($3.75) are cooked in a soy chilli sauce till the skin, meat and tendon practically fall off the bone. The Steamed Curry Cuttle ($5.35) are hit or miss. One time, they are soft and easy to chew and another time, they're a little rubbery. The Chinese-style curry is mild and just right for dim sum, which is usually eaten at brunch.

Pearl HarbourfrontThe fried dishes are fine but I can only handle one or two at the dim sum hour. My choice is the Fried Shrimp Toast ($5.35) which is a minced shrimp mixture on top of a small slice of white bread and deep-fried till crispy. You can ask for mayonnaise or sweet and sour sauce to go with it, but at Pearl Harbourfront the standard accompaniment is Worcestershire sauce.

Pearl HarbourfrontOff the special section of the menu is Marinated Jelly Fish with Cucumber ($7.50). This is a cold dish almost like a sliced jellyfish and cucumber salad marinated in soy and topped with sesame seeds. To brighten it up, I add a drizzle of chilli oil available upon request as a side condiment. Pearl Harbourfront also serves dinner and handles banquet style meals but I like it here for dim sum in the daylight. If I'm going to pay higher than average prices for Cantonese food and dim sum, I want the view to go with it.

Pearl HarbourfrontRestaurant Hours:
Weekdays - 11:00am to 11:00pm
Weekends - 10:30am to 11:00pm

Dim Sum Hours:
Weekdays - 11:00am to 3:30pm
Weekends - 10:30am to 3:30pm

Discussion

14 Comments

Harg MacLean / June 9, 2010 at 09:26 am
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i've had cart-served dim sum here on saturday mornings.
RBeezy / June 9, 2010 at 09:28 am
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Been there. I rate it a 3/5. The view is 5/5.
Eric Hacke / June 9, 2010 at 01:07 pm
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Went there recently for the first time, I'd second the 3/5 vote.

One thing that was a bit unnerving was that at the end of our meal I noticed that what I had thought was a fastner of some kind on the side of the basket, was actually a dead cockroach.

I know that roaches exist in restaurants, and I didn't mention it the staff in order to avoid embarrassing them (and I'm a wuss). But that is a pretty big deal for it to appear on a delivered meal. Many other people would have made a scene, if not outright reported them to a monitoring agency.

Food safety could use some work.
Elizabeth / June 9, 2010 at 03:14 pm
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really? toronto has a restaurant called 'Pearl Harbourfront'
.... was that ... was that on purpose?
thank Goodness it's not a Japanese restaurant.
DGimbert / June 9, 2010 at 03:15 pm
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For what it is worth, this place actually serves shark fin soup. After seeing that special on the Discovery channel about this whole industry, it is a real turn-off. I am sure there are many places in TO that serve it as well, I just choose to vote by not spending my $$ there.
Zango / June 9, 2010 at 03:46 pm
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Touristy location aside, food is average for the above average price. We'll stick to Rol San.
tyler g / June 9, 2010 at 06:26 pm
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My wife and I went here about a year ago and near the end of the meal, she took a bite of her last shrimp dumpling and out came an extremely long black hair.

I haven't eaten dim sum since then. So gross.
mathew / June 10, 2010 at 11:37 am
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the prices seem rediculously high for dim sum. i guess its geared more towards tourists who don't know about the great places in chinatown or are intimidated by eating in the chinatown setting.
foodhogger / June 11, 2010 at 04:00 pm
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I had a rock in my soup when I ate there.
Smoothmoose / June 11, 2010 at 07:10 pm
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Pearl is definitely the best dim sum downtown. It beats out Lai Wah Heen at the Metropolitan Hotel hands down on pure execution. Lai Wah Heen has some more inventive dim sum...but execution is spotty.

That said you can get dim sum that is pretty much at the same level as Pearl north of Steeles and about half the price. There is a price to paid for the wonderful view and service.
Francois / June 21, 2010 at 05:33 pm
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There is no justification for having insects and foreign material in your food. No one should accept cockroaches as an inevitability in restaurants.
J / June 24, 2010 at 10:45 am
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I don't want to come across as rude when I write this, but in the event of finding insects or rocks in your food, you both should either ask to speak with the manager during or after your meal. If you don't want to confront them at that time, you can grab a business card on your way out and phone them following day, or better yet, phone the Toronto Health Unit through the DineSafe program (link below).

HPPA legislation mandates for a health inspector to respond to concerns and complaints within 24 hours. Look at it this way: the cockroach may have come into contact with insecticide and now it's sitting a matter of inches away from your food. It may not make you ill, but it can't be good for you either.

The inspectors aren't there to terrorize business owners but to help them and to ensure that the restaurant is taking necessary precautions to provide good service and more importantly SAFE service.

Toronto Public Health DineSafe contact:
http://app.toronto.ca/food2/FDContactUs.jsp
Joe / July 8, 2010 at 06:10 pm
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Pearl is awesome. IT is the cleanest chinese restaurant I've ever been in and the service is incredible. My daugters love going to Pearl. Its more pricey than a New Ho King but NHK is a dump.
Williams / June 9, 2013 at 04:46 pm
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The view is beautiful. The food is very good, but overpriced. I suppose you're paying for the view as well.

The service on the other hand, was TERRIBLE.
The hostess was very pretentious and flirted with my boyfriend!
We had an inexperienced waiter who didn't understand English very well. He spilled our water glass and overfilled one of our glasses, causing a mess to our table.

Some of the other waitresses kept walking by our table and speaking Mandarin.
How rude of them! We later complained to the manager and were given a mean look.

We won't dine at this place again.

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