My friends Joe and Ewa invited me and my friend Tommy to join them at Eastern Pearl the other night. It's a good half-way point for us as they live in College Park and Eastern Pearl is in Altamonte Springs. It was a pretty good choice. Pretty decent asian food, I'd say.
Tommy and I started out with some appetizers, a set if two Spring Rolls served with a peanut sauce. They were pretty good, nice and refreshing. That said, they were nothing overly special, either, just good spring rolls with a nice peanut dipping sauce, though for my taste a bit too sweet.
Joe and Ewa ordered the Asparagus and Beef Roll as an appetizer (no picture, sorry). This was a real winner! The asparagus was extremely flavorful and the beef was very good, too. It was a real hit, I'd order it again--and again!
I started my meal with the Hot & Sour Soup. It was just OK, nothing too spectacular. Usually I expect a fair amount of heat from my hot & sour soup, and this was pretty mild, I'd have liked it hotter. Yes, I could have asked for some more spice to add to it, but I like to eat food the way the restaurant intends it. I found it to be good, but no where near the best I've ever had.
Tommy tried the Won Ton Soup. His comment about it was that it was very ordinary and somewhat bland. It did have a fair amount of "stuff" in it, but if the broth is bland, what does all the "stuff" bring to the dish? Won Ton Soup should build on a flavorful broth, and this did not.
We did eat family style, but each of us had a favorit dish that we ordered. For his, Tommy took Ewa's suggestion and got the Orange Beef. This was a very good choice. The beef was nice and tender and the sauce had a nice hint of orange flavor to it but was not overpowered by the orange. There was some orange peel in the sauce which was a bit difficult to eat, but did contribute well to the flavor.
For My entree I had the General Tao Chicken. According to the legend on the menu, and according to the way I've had it many times before, this was supposed to be a spicy dish. Perhaps the spice chef had taken a night off, but this was not spicy at all and was a bit of a disappointment. The sauce was overly sweet for my taste. Now if it had been properly spicy, then the sweetness of the sauce would have been a good balance to the hot of the spice. But with "spicy" missing, it just became too sweet. I would not order it again here. I've had this dish many times at many places. For me this was a real miss. Bummer!
Joe ordered a Seafood dish which was also supposed to be spicy. However, all of the spice appeared to be in the fresh jalapenos that were added onto the dish, not in the preparation of the dish itself. Still, it was pretty darned good, I'll admit. It just appears to me that Eastern Pearl has a spice issue, at least they did this night!
Last but certainly not least, Ewa ordered the Crispy Beef. It was very, very good. The beef was nice and crispy and the sauce complimented it well. I also loved the carrot-flower garnish, very clever. Of all the dishes, this and the Orange Beef were my favorites, no doubt about it.
Overall, my experience at Eastern Pearl was OK, but not overly impressive. I'd probably go back, but I'm still left wondering if there is any real kick-ass, killer Chinese food available north of Orlando. The best yest is still in Daytona Beach, at Leahn's. C'mon north Orlando area, where's there some really great Chinese food? As for Eastern Pearl, it was good, but just not great!