Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pearl Harbourfront: The Best Dim Sum in Toronto

Overlooking Lake Ontario with fabulous views of the islands, there's no better way to enjoy delicious handmade dim sum and endless pots of Jasmin tea than at Pearl Harbourfront, where they serve, without a doubt, the best dim sum in the city. Tucked away on the second floor of Queens Quay Terminal, the light filled 6,000-square foot interior of blonde woods, cream-hued walls and floor-to-ceiling windows provide a simple yet sophisticated backdrop for enjoying steaming baskets of Har Kow, while admiring spectacular harbour views and Porter's symphony of flights coming and going from the Island Airport.

Pearl's light filled modern interior with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Lake Ontario

Though priced slightly higher than some other Chinese restaurants, the food at Pearl Harbourfront is wonderfully prepared, nicely presented and graciously served — well worth the few extra dollars. As with traditional dim sum dining, hot and fresh cooked dishes are wheeled around the restaurant on tiered carts, for customers to select their Siu Mai and Cheung Foon while seated at the comfort of their linen covered tables. With the room's split-level dining and over two hundred ravenous guests, the servers weave in and out of tables and up and down steps with the grace and agility of a production of Swan Lake.

One of the many cheerful servers who parade their panoply of dim sum dishes to hungry customers

Any day of the week, whether the it's fine or frosty, Pearl can be hectic with long tedious lineups, but they do take reservations, which is highly advisable if you want to avoid the wait and be guaranteed one of the prized window tables. Offering Dim Sum seven days a week, Pearl offers a selection of over sixty delectable dishes that are served in steamer baskets and small plates, from steamed and pan fried dumplings, potstickers and rice noodles to sticky rice in lotus leaf, stir fried vegetables and a variety of innovative desserts. There's also the option of ordering a la carte for dishes from their extensive luncheon menu such as Chopped Rainbow, Braised Lobster with Black Bean and Garlic Sauce or Szechuan Style Shrimp in Phoenix Nest.

Hot steamed dumplings arrive in bambo steamers 

For those devotées who come to Pearl Harbourfront expressly for their delectable dim sum, the parade of bite-size dishes are temptation enough. Prices range from $3.75 for a bamboo basket of Steamed Beef Dumplings, Crispy Spring Rolls or Steamed Chicken Feet; $5.50 for medium dishes such as Steamed Spinach Dumpling, Scallop Dumpling or Crispy Spring Rolls; $6.00 for large dishes including Har Gau, Shrimp Cheung Foon and Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf; to $7.50 for special plates which include Deep Fried Stuffed Crab Claw or Fried Beef Short Ribs with Honey Black Pepper Sauce. The best way to sample as many dim sum dishes as possible, is to bring a group of friends and order to your heart or tummy's content.

Baby Bok Choy with Braised Garlic and Oyster Sauce

Fried Shrimp Toasts

Steamed Scallop Dumplings

Pan Fried Shrimp and Chinese Vegetable Dumplings — aka Pearl Hockey Puck's!

Wonderfully succulent BBQ Pork Tenderloin

Fried eggplant stuffed with shrimp

Pan Fried Tofu Stuffed with Shrimp

Deep Fried Seafood Dumpling

Steamed Bean Curd Rolls

Silver Noodle with Shrimp, Chicken, Mushrooms and Chopped Egg

BBQ Pork Pies

Fried Green Pepper Stuffed with Shrimp

Steamed Spinach and Shrimp Dumplings

Crispy Spring Rolls with Shrimp

One of the final dishes we ordered were these enchanting Lychee Jellies in the shape of little gold fish, artfully detailed to look like Koi with bright orange-red spots which were in fact Wolfberries, also known as goji berries, and taste a bit like plump soft and sweet raisins. Considered to be a super-fruit due to their extraordinary nutritional value and antioxidant content, there's a myth that a Chinese man named Li Qing Yuen, was said to have consumed the red berry every day of his life and lived to the ripe old age of 250! 

Lychee Jelly with Chinese Wolfberries

Open for dim sum Monday to Friday from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm, and Saturday & Sunday 10:30 am to 3:30 pm, Pearl Harbourfront at Queens Quay Terminal is a delightful and delicious way to spend a Sunday morning catching up with friends and sampling some of the best dim sum in the city — just remember to make reservations before you go!