Dinner At The Oriental Pearl, Clay Cross
As you know dear reader we are a tight-knit little flock that enjoy eating and socialising at any opportunity, so when my little chick got a fantastic school report it was the perfect reason to go out. We asked the tribal elders (my parents) if they would like to join us, and they flew at the chance. As it was to celebrate chick-a-dee’s success she was given the choice of where to go and suggested The Oriental Pearl Chinese restaurant in Clay Cross, so we made the booking and off we went. Now it isn’t the first time we’ve ever been to this particular restaurant, but fair to say it has been a long time.
There is plenty of parking at the rear of the restaurant, always a bonus when your going out for a bite to eat. The fish tank still has prominence in the restaurant, but the second thing I noticed is a fantastic mural on the restaurant wall. It depicts your typical oriental garden scene, with swans, lilies, lotus blossom and bridges all featured, but it literally takes up the whole length of the restaurant wall. Combined with the lanterns it really does give a traditional authentic feel to the Oriental Pearl, and Chris, the owner, is rightly proud of this.
We ordered drinks and settled into our seats to peruse the menu and nibble on the prawn crackers that Lily brought to the table. After much deliberation my little chick and mummy bird decided that they would have the Oriental Pearl Mixed Hors d’Oeuvres for their starters. The man and I both plumped for the Smoked Chicken with Chilli, Garlic and Spring Onions, whilst my daddy bird had the Crispy Cantonese Spring Rolls. Well, the platter of Hors d’Oeuvres was piled high with goodies to say the least: Peking Spare Ribs, Sesame Prawns on Toast, Vegetarian Spring Rolls, Crispy Won Tons and Crispy Seaweed, and it all looked delicious. Then our Smoked Chicken came; lovely little cubes of Chicken garnished with flakes of roast garlic and chilli, and spring onion. My dad looked over and remarked how tasty it looked, so I said he could try a piece (he doesn’t like a lot of spice as you know, but said that it was just nicely spiced). Then my dad’s spring rolls arrived, again garnished beautifully. We all tucked in to our food with much gusto, and the consensus was that none of the pastry was greasy, the prawn toasts were lovely and full of prawn meat, the ribs were meaty and juicy, and the chicken was just the correct depth of spiciness.
I should point out that the Oriental Pearl is one of those rare establishments that have Chopsticks on the table as standard, but gladly provide knives and forks on request if you don’t like chopsticks or feel particularly confident with them. Indeed having knives and forks as back-up means you can try chopsticks out for the first time, or just renew your skills with them for a while. We used the Chopsticks with varying degrees of success, which provided us with some in family entertainment and added to the relaxed happy occasion that it was intended to be.
Then we ordered a soup course because we’re a flock of gannets! Hubster had the Peking Hot and Sour soup (he requested no prawns in his), my dad had the Chicken and Noodle soup whilst the chick and I both opted for Chicken and Mushroom soup. Mother bird was the only one who showed any self restraint at this point. Soups demolished, it was soon on to the Main courses. The tribal elders had the Oriental Pearl Special Chow Mein, the boy wonder plumped for the Sizzling Fillet of Beef with Black Pepper, chicklet had King Prawns with Bamboo Shoots and Water Chestnuts and I decided upon the Scallops with Ginger and Spring Onion. You could hear the sizzling beef before you could see it, and when it arrived at the table there was a mouth-watering aroma filling the air. The Chow Mein bowls were heaped up like mini mountains, ditto the chicks King Prawns. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of scallops in my dish, they’re not the cheapest items and many restaurants can be a bit mean on the quantity they give you. Another pit-fall many restaurants fall into is that they overcook the scallops so they become a bit chewy and rubbery. Thankfully the team at Oriental Pearl have got cooking them down to a fine art, and they were juicy and tender and full of flavour - just how they should be. So I was a very happy birdie, and I wasn’t alone in my joy because all you could hear from our table were satisfied little murmurs of foodie contentment. The fillet of beef was moist and tender complimented by a warming pepper heat that wasn’t overpowering; again some restaurants just go overboard with the pepper and drown out all the other flavours. Chick gave her King prawns 2 thumbs up, so she was a very happy camper, and the folks were mightily delighted with their Chow Mein - it was packed full of different meats and vegetables and was very satisfying. We ordered enough rice for 3 people and it came piled up in a large bowl; in all honesty it could probably have fed 6 people easily.
Our little crops were full to bursting and there was a brief moment where we thought we might have to skip dessert. But it was only a brief moment, and we thankfully found the stamina to manage a sweet course, so ice creams and Caramel Fantastica’s were ordered.
It was gratifying to see that we weren’t the only group eating in the restaurant, especially on a midweek day, and the telephone was busy ringing with takeaway orders throughout the evening too.
We ordered off the a la carte menu, but there is also a choice of 5 set menus you can eat from as well as various buffet options for midweek.
For a warm welcome, good service and great food you’d be hard pushed to find anywhere better in the locale. Top marks to Chris and his team, we won’t leave it so long to return this time.