For those not accustomed to dim the dim sum style of dining, think tapas combined with dessert cart service delivered at a frenetic pace! Oriental Pearl is just off of Buford Highway on New Peachtree and is considered by many to be tops when it comes to this style of dining in Atlanta; it says a lot when this is one of the few places Chinese Americans will take out of town guests.
A few basics you need to know:
- Groups are good – be prepared to have one person pay to keep it simple
- Be adventurous – there are literally scores of dishes you can try
- There are more selections on the weekend
On that last note, the weekend has more selections but it is also more crowded, so go early. You can still get tons of food during the week; usually one savory and one sweet cart followed by soup. On your first visit definitely go for the full dim sum experience and do not order off of the menu. As the carts come by just point at what you want (I’m assuming you will not have a mandarin expert in your party) and ask questions; some of the servers speak English, but it’s hit or miss, so there are some risks…but remember this is about being adventurous and trying new things.
On this day, there were tons of dumplings, pork buns and rice dishes; on this first section I will stick to the savory cart. We had a variety of dishes, but the shrimp dumplings, crab shu mai and the pork buns were my favorites; the pork buns were moist (had to) and sweet with a perfect punch of saltiness from the swine.
Aside from these three everything was solid, but lacked the pop that these dishes had. Most of the rice based dishes were similar in taste (the sauce is the differentiator) but completely different in texture, and should be sampled…keep in mind that most of these dishes are only a few bucks a piece so there is plenty of room for experimentation; just be leary of the chickens feet!
Last up were the items from the sweet tray, which we didn’t try a lot of due to the massive amounts of dumplings and rice we consumed…you forget how quickly they can expand in your belly…
This pan fried sweet shrimp cake/dumpling was one if my favorites as well. It had a perfectly cooked, tender shrimp encased in a sweet wrapping topped off with a sweet, sour, and slightly spicy glaze. Not really sure this qualified as a dessert, but I wish I had saved room for a few more!
Oriental Pearl is a great spot to enjoy several different dishes and share them with your family and friends. Definitely take your time and don’t feel like you have to get everything at once; on one visit we were literally done in 20 minutes and missed out on several dishes that came out later had we been patient. Order a few plates at a time and really enjoy them; ask about what may not be out yet so you can better plan and try as many things as possible. One last note is on the pricing; there are no prices but everthing is in the $2 – $4 range. When you order they jot it down on a sheet which is tallied at the register. On all my dim sum experiences the bill has come out to around $15 per person, so be prepared; if you really want to know you can ask, but no one does. If you’re looking for quality dim sum in Atlanta this spot should definitely be on your list!