Exciting new dishes continue to show up on Pearl River Deli’s menu each week. In some ways, this culinary energy reminds me of the early days of Guerrilla Tacos, when Chef Wes Avila was switching up new specials / menu items daily / weekly.
Soy Sauce Chicken Rice:
We remember the first time trying Chef-Owner Johnny Lee’s Soy Sauce Chicken, which was fantastic. It looks like he’s brought it back, and this time, in a slightly larger format: Each order comes with 2 large Chicken Thighs and 2 large Chicken Drumsticks, and a side of veggies and Steamed Rice for only $12.
More importantly, the first bite hits you with beautifully marinated Soy Sauce Chicken, cooked just through, so the Chicken meat is taut, but still tender and yielding, and the flavor permeates beyond surface level!
This is quite simply the best Soy Sauce Chicken in L.A. right now! (@beefnoguy @PorkyBelly @J_L @attran99 @TheCookie and others.)
(New) Fried Fish Filet with Corn Sauce (Served with Steamed Rice):
Chef Lee mentions that this is his modern take using “fresh Summer Corn and Tempura Black Cod which will be sustainably and locally caught!”
Caveat: I have no idea what the OG version of this dish is supposed to be. I haven’t seen this on any SGV restaurant menus that we’ve been to, but I’m guessing this might be a Hong Kong Cafe classic? (@beefnoguy @JeetKuneBao and others?)
For our first time eating this dish, first, the Tempura-battered Black Cod was very good: Crispy, light, beautifully fried exterior, not greasy, and the Black Cod within was moist, almost fatty in its flavor and taste. Just as is, it was tasty. The Summer Corn Sauce was sweet and creamy. I thought it tasted fine, but I don’t have any nostalgia factor while eating this dish. I’d imagine our FTC’ers who grew up with this dish might enjoy it even more.
Macau Pork Chop Bun:
Their Macau Pork Chop Bun looks like they are using a different type of Pineapple Bun these days, but regardless, the actual taste was as outstanding as before:
Crispy Fried Pork Chop, still so juicy and flavorful, that Housemade Maggi Aioli and Caramelized Onions and the Pineapple Bun to wrap things up. So good! Definitely a signature item to get at Pearl River Deli.
(New) Gyudon (Beef Bowl):
It would be easy for you to miss this new menu item that Chef Lee has subtly added to the Deli section of the menu, as it’s listed by its Japanese name, “Gyudon” which means “Beef Bowl”. But it would be a serious mistake to overlook the new addition.
Taking a bite:
Come on! Chef Lee has decided to make his own version of a Japanese Beef Bowl, using Beef Short Ribs instead of the stringy, cheap Beef found in most versions around town. The slowly Stewed Beef Short Rib meat is succulent, decadent, downright crave-worthy in its tender, savory burst of beefy flavor! It is probably the best Stewed Beef Bowl we’ve had in years!
Do not miss this! (@PorkyBelly @J_L @A5KOBE @Ns1 @attran99 @TheCookie @paranoidgarliclover @beefnoguy and others!)
Pearl River Deli has debuted a new menu that has individual Rice Plate portions and A La Carte, larger portions. They’ve also added new combos.
(New) BBQ Combo (3 Items) - Soy Sauce Chicken, Charsiu (Pork Jowl), Charsiu (Pork Ribs):
Yes! Chef Lee now has added in the classic “BBQ Combo” option, where you can pick 2 or 3 Items from his HK BBQ section of the menu.
Normally for a 2 or 3 Item Combo at OG SGV restaurants, you get a few slices of various meats that you chose, but imagine our shock when we opened up the 3 Item Combo and it still comes with an entire Soy Sauce Chicken Leg and Thigh(!). Generous portions.
The Soy Sauce Chicken today was as as delicious as before, a very good Soy Sauce-based marinade that permeates the Chicken through the skin and into the meat, whereas too many places have no marinade flavor beyond the skin. The Chicken itself was moist and delicious!
Charsiu (Pork Ribs):
The Charsiu Pork Ribs were tasty as well. Still the best offering for HK BBQ-style Charsiu Pork Ribs that we’ve had locally.
Charsiu (Pork Jowl):
The Charsiu Pork Jowl is as fatty and absurdly decadent as before. There’s some lean meat with the fat, to balance things, but do know that this is on the (deliciously) heavier side.
(New) Gai Yang Wings (Thai BBQ Chicken Wings) (Sticky Rice, Papaya Salad, Nam Jim Jaew Dipping Sauce):
Chef Lee is bringing back last weekend’s special by popular demand, his take on Gai Yang (Thai BBQ Chicken), but this time with Chicken Wings. (For those that are curious, Chef Lee mentioned on Instagram that one side of his family is Thai Chinese.)
The Gai Yang Wings are lightly sweet-savory with some nice grilled flavor. The Chicken is meatier (but tender enough) compared to the poached / boiled Chicken preparations for other dishes he does, but it works wonderfully here.
The Nam Jim Jaew (Spicy Isan Chili Sauce) is absurdly good! A pungent Fish Sauce base, lightly spicy, a touch of sweetness, and it works well with the Thai BBQ Chicken Wings and some Sticky Rice that accompanies it.
The Papaya Salad that accompanies the Gai Yang Wings is hardcore funky! An earthy pungent punch, it’s interesting and different from the Thai Papaya Salads we’ve had locally.
(New) Khao Man Gai (Thai Version of Hainan Chicken Rice):
In keeping with a Thai theme this week, Chef Lee has brought back his famous Hainan Chicken Rice, but in Thai form, with Khao Man Gai. First, just look at how perfectly poached the Chicken is (above)!
Taking a bite:
Seriously. Chef Lee is making the best Hainan Chicken / White Cut Chicken / Soy Sauce Chicken / Khao Man Gai execution in L.A., hands down! Just cooked through Chicken (white and dark meat), each bite of the white and dark meat Chicken was tender, moist, the fat was rendered out.
The Garlic Rice that accompanies the Khao Man Gai is fragrant and full of flavor, and just the Chicken and Garlic Rice by itself is absolutely delicious.
But it’s also accompanied by a Fermented Soybean Sauce, a departure from the usual Hainan Chicken Rice with its trio of Ginger Green Onion, Chili, Soy Sauce.This Thai Dipping Sauce is a sweet-savory blend and works with the Chicken, but I loved Chef Lee’s Khao Man Gai just with the Chicken and Garlic Rice itself.
(New) Salt and Pepper Tofu:
Initially this might sound like an afterthought, some kind of Vegetarian option that some other restaurants would add to the menu to cater to all audiences, but knowing the passion Chef Lee has for cooking, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Salt and Pepper Tofu is DELICIOUS!
It was crispy-crunchy on the outside (we opened up the To-Go container immediately after picking it up, to prevent steaming), giving way to an outstanding silky, tender Meiji Tofu within. The flavor is perfect! Unlike some versions of “Salt & Pepper (Pork Chop / Squid / etc.)”, the Salt and Pepper Tofu is thankfully not a total Salt bomb like many places, it’s got salinity and some peppery kick, a little heat, but it’s perfectly balanced.
We would eat this Salt and Pepper Tofu over most versions of Salt & Pepper Pork Chops and Salt & Pepper Squid that we’ve had in the San Gabriel Valley, it’s that good! Highlight! (@hanhgry @TheCookie @attran99 @PorkyBelly @J_L and others!)
(New) Green Curry with Thai Eggplant and Shrimp Balls:
As we’re sitting in our 4 person dining room (our car) after taking a bite of Pearl River Deli’s new Thai Green Curry dish, numerous thoughts run through my head:
“Why didn’t Chef Lee just open a Thai restaurant?” “Did I just eat some of the best Thai Green Curry in L.A.?” “How has Chef Lee not made any Thai dishes until now?”
Stupid good Thai Green Curry: It’s creamy, silky, fragrant, lightly sweet, simply outstanding Green Curry! The Eggplant is perfectly matched here, and the Housemade Shrimp Balls are cloud-like, airy and bright (not tasting like bad briny frozen Shrimp).
Another highlight! (@J_L @PorkyBelly @JeetKuneBao @paranoidgarliclover @attran99 and others!)
We were worried initially that Pearl River Deli might be adding too many new dishes at too fast a rate, but this slew of new dishes have all been very good to outstanding! Seeing this Thai tribute special menu this week, it feels like Chef Lee can have this appear once a month or two, to great success. The Gai Yang (Thai BBQ Chicken) Wings were very good, and that Thai Chili Sauce was delicious. The Khao Man Gai (Thai version of Hainan Chicken Rice) was outstanding! But that Green Curry with Eggplant and Shrimp Balls was absurd.
With the new Gyudon (Beef Bowl) - do not miss this dish! - and the previous “RIP Curry House” tribute, one could imagine Chef Lee doing a Japanese Tribute Weekend with Japanese comfort food dishes at some point.
With the regular appearance of the Soy Sauce Chicken, Chef Lee now has a 2nd Hong Kong BBQ dish that shines in L.A. (along with his Charsiu Pork Ribs / Jowl). Add to that, the Macau Pork Chop Bun, and hopefully a return of his legendary Hainan Chicken, and you have one of the strongest foundations of great dishes that can be found in L.A.
Pearl River Deli
727 N. Broadway #130
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (626) 688-9507