As the name might suggest, if you stumble upon Hong Kong Pearl you’ll feel like you’ve discovered an uncommon gem. On its face, it’s a storefront in a recently updated strip mall. But opening the door reveals a massive, well-appointed dining room, with red striped banquet chairs at tables draped in light pink tablecloths. Chandeliers drip from the ceilings. Bright paper lanterns are hung throughout the space. Ornate screens further decorate the room. There’s also a big display of glistening roasted poultry at the front of the restaurant and tanks stacked with seafood at the back – maybe not purposefully part of the elegant décor, but they certainly stoke the appetite.
The menu reveals more treats, most impressively an immense seafood selection. The menu is quite large, more than 200 dishes in all, and more than 60 of those entrées are seafood-focused. A popular dish here, found at the top of the House Specialties menu section, is the Sautéed Dried Squid and Dried Shrimp ($18.95). A lotus blossom carved from carrot is a decorative element placed on the side of the plate, but the dish itself is a thing of beauty, with different strips and tentacles of squid in all shapes and sizes curling around big chunks of celery and carrot, mushroom pieces, snow peas, and slices of lotus root. It’s a feast for the eyes and a delight for the taste buds, as the salty, chewy squid pieces combine with the fresh crunch of vegetables in a light sauce.
Beyond the House Specialties, many of which are seafood-focused, are vegetable, pork, beef, and chicken dishes, as well as an assortment of fried rice and noodle entrées. Any favorite dish of Chinese cuisine is represented. But there’s also an ample menu section of seafood dishes exclusively. Lobster, scallop, conch, clam, cod, and more are offered in many different renditions. A recurring treatment on the menu is to prepare the fish with scallion and ginger. The Grouper Fish and Dried Bean Curd ($13.95) is so made. The fish is lightly breaded, enough to stand up to the dish’s thick, rich sauce but still flaky at a touch of the fork. Bright green strands of scallion twist through pieces of the fish, chewy paper-thin strips of bean curd, whole mushroom caps, and silver-dollar sized slices of ginger that add spice to the dish.
If the unexpected size and range of the seafood selection weren’t enough, there’s another surprise to be found here: dim sum, usually a weekend brunch made of small-plate treats, is served every day. Bustling silver carts full of steamed dumplings and other delicacies make their way through the dining room until 3 p.m., but after that dim sum orders can still be placed from the menu. Bits of savory spare rib to chew from little bones; sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves packed with huge chunks of chicken, pork, and woodsy mushrooms; and sweet golden barbecue pork buns are just some of the nice assortment of dim sum dishes that can be ordered, and most cost around $4 for an order.
If you frequently pass through Seven Corners, you could drive by this restaurant hundreds of times and not notice. It looks like just another restaurant in just another strip mall. But that’s part of the joy in discovering the delicious seafood dishes and any-time dim sum here.
Hong Kong Pearl Seafood Restaurant is located at 6286 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church. For more information, call 703-237-1388 or visit facebook.com/pages/Hong-Kong-Pearl-Seafood-Restaurant/261076060610322. Restaurant hours are Monday – Thursday: 10:30 a.m. – 2 a.m. and Friday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 3 a.m.