The sprawling, mega-chic MGM Grand resort in Las Vegas plays host to a plethora of fine dining choices, yet for an unforgettable and unique Cantonese/Shanghai cuisine experience, look no further than Pearl. Situated amongst most of MGM’s eateries in the “Studio Walk” area, Pearl fuses ultra-modern, sensual décor with tantalizing, exotic Asian dishes while simultaneously pampering its clientele with impeccable service and attention to detail. Executive chef Kai-Wa Yau is center stage at this hip, sexy dining spot, and his focus on creating artistic expressions with seafood, beef, and traditional Cantonese menu items is something that needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated.Read More ...
In my long and illustrious history of eating Chinese food, I’ve found it’s darn near impossible to straddle the fence between traditional fare and modern flair. I have no idea why this is the case, but there is a distinction between quality, traditional Chinese gourmet and unique, upscale, décor. Actually, I should say this WAS the case. Pearl at The MGM Grand Hotel in the heart of The Strip has calmly and serenely taken decades of my carefully constructed pre-conceived notions and graciously dashed them to the floor.
My date and I walk in to Pearl kind of early. In fact, I’m not even sure they were done with their daily meetings. Although, that didn’t stop Chris (who I find out is the GM) from rushing up and graciously welcoming us to their establishment. The interior of Pearl is a veritable oasis from the chaos of the Vegas world behind us. At first glance, Pearl is not an enormous restaurant. I take a quick look and estimate around 25 medium sized tables. This would be a good place to entertain clients. Serene and hip, I am immediately drawn to the exquisite mixture of wood with a playful explosion of old world tiling. Along the far side of the restaurant there is a row of tall, open booths that somehow invoke a sense of privacy without blocking off the guest from enjoying the rest of Pearl’s beauty. Chris shows us to one of these statuesque booths and as we sit down my attention is caught by the indirect lighting that sets a peaceful and intimate mood.
We sit down and take a look at the drink menu. The date is feeling some wine, but I convince her that I’m going to impress her with some sake. Now, I’m no sake sommelier, but I know a thing or two. Or at least, I thought I did. I take one look at Pearl’s menu and realize I’m going to need help. I frantically give Chris the “come quick before I look like a total dunce” eyeball beckon, and he smilingly sidles right up to our table. I jokingly make mention of their extensive list and he laughs and tells us they take their wine and sake seriously, mentioning their Wine Spectator Award for the far-reaching list, and that he would be more than happy to point us in the right direction. We decide on a small bottle of nigori sake, which is slightly more creamy sake due to the fact that it is unfiltered. If you are unfamiliar with the world of sake, think of it in terms of beer. Usually sake is clear and bright, like a fine German Pilsner. Nigori sake is like that beer’s Bavarian cousin, the slightly thicker hefeweizen. If you are still lost in the mist, then just trust me; it’s good. Chris brings us a bottle of what translates as “Dreamy Clouds” and I am taken back by the fact that while it is creamy in color, it remains light on the palate and the nuanced fruitiness plays well against the smoothness of the rice.
At this point, we are greeted by Dennis, who is our go-to man for the evening. He is extremely friendly and super efficient. Dennis brings us something to nosh on while we decide on our menu options. I am pleasantly surprised to see an offering of mixed nuts rather than the mundane bread and butter. The menu showcases an arrangement of Chinese dishes from traditional entrees like Salt and Pepper Beef Tenderloin and Steamed Minced Pork with Salty Fish to live seafood and claypot creations. This is half the reason why the Pearl stands above other run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurants. Not only do they offer Chinese fare that rival others, but they unionize a modern aesthetic with its décor selection and presentation that is apparently missing in most of its competition.
After some brief discourse with Dennis as to which direction we should go, it is decided that the Chef’s tasting menu, an assortment of Executive Chef Kai Yau’s most prestigious dishes, is our best option for experiencing all that Pearl has to offer.
We start our dining experience with Minced Chicken with a Lettuce Petal. Paired with a hoisin sauce and watercress, the dish is a contradiction in taste. It is at once both crisp and soft. It is warm at the same time it is refreshingly cold. The chicken is juicy and tender and the sauce is subtle and understated, willingly playing the role of flavor expeditor rather than taste dictator. I immediately know that our decision for the tasting menu was the correct one. Once finished, Dennis brings us each a warm towel to clean our fingers off with (such a nice guy).
This is followed up with Spider Prawn Dumplings and Pan-Seared Pork dumplings. The pork has a coy spicy flavor to it, and is remarkably tender. The Spider Prawn Dumpling is surprisingly meaty and the sweet and sour accompaniment has a wonderful herbal note to it. My date sums it up perfectly when she says, “So this is what shrimp is supposed to taste like!”
Up next is Coconut Soup. It has a mixture of seafood and spinach in it, and is served in the actual coconut. The bountiful seafood mixture is an assortment of scallop, shrimp and crab. The soup broth itself is a masterpiece, light in texture and body, and slightly just salty enough to make the overall flavor pop. Chris comes by to check on us and I ask him if every soup comes served like this, or if we were just getting special attention because we were the first ones in the door. He assures us that every soup is prepared that way and when I ask him how many coconuts they go through in a given week, he laughs and says, “A lot!”
To finish off dinner, we are presented with Lobster in XO Sauce, Black Pepper Tenderloin of Beef, and the classic General Tso Chicken. There is a heaping bowl of vegetable fried rice to go with it all. The meats are all wok-fried. The beef is superb. Extremely tender, it has a ‘natural’ taste to it. The chicken is slightly sweet, tender and juicy. It has just a hint of spice to it, to make sure you remember it’s there. The lobster is what lobster should be- rich and buttery. It also has that signature Pearl spice kick to it that enhances the complex tastes and nuances of each dish.
For dessert we are brought an assortment of selections from MGM’s in-house pastry chef. There is a mango puree with white mousse, a more traditional Chong-inspired dish, the White Monkey that’s a coconut/grapefruit concoction (sadly not served in another coconut), and the Dragon Kiss, a chocolate mousse/pudding. All four are wonderful, and my date and I forget any sort of decorum as we rush to consume as much of each dish as possible.
For a nightcap, I convince my date to try some filtered sake, and we settle on the Takasago Ginga Shizuku, which translates to “Divine Droplets”. This sake is also on the slightly fruity side, but has a more clean and bright finished than the nigori. I wax poetic about its virtues, and my date thinks the first one was better. I guess that’s why they make different ones.
As we’re finishing our sake, Chris comes by once more to chat with us. He tries to get us to try some of their Asian-inspired cocktails, and I am tempted. With flavor profiles leaning toward traditional flavors like guava, mango, and lychee, I plead with the date to try one or three, but she spurns my childlike excitement for all things Asian cocktail related. Oh well…stick to the sake, I guess. I ask Chris again about the extensive wine list and he tells me that what I have been looking at is only half. They have their own separate wine cellar just for the high rollers that come through. They also have a closed-off room to handle private events (or those same high-rollers that just want to be left alone!), and a semi-private room for large parties to enjoy an evening all together.
I ask Chris how they get their fish to stay fresh, being that they’re in the middle of the desert. He tells me they have all their seafood flown in live twice a week. He laughs at the incredulous look on my face and says, “Follow me!” He takes in to the kitchen, and sure enough, there are enormous fish tanks holding live lobster, shrimp, and all manner of fish awaiting their untimely death to be prepared for dinner.
We finish our brief tour and finally finish our sake. It seems like the entire staff stops what they are doing to bid us farewell and to thank us for coming in. I am in awe at the level of service, even as we are leaving. More importantly, my date is also impressed with the evening, and really…that’s the most important part, right?
Insider Tip: Book through LasVegasRestaurants.com and get their tasting menu for only $49.00 each. Save some serious dough and get some serious Chinese food in a relaxing and chic environment.
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Everything they offered was superb. The chicken was tender and juicy. The veggies were colorful and flavorful. The tenderloin melted in our mouths. We were so full we had to take our desert home and it didn't disappoint. I am dying to go back. A MUST eat at place in Las Vegas!
Besides being pricey everything was perfect!
awesome food and view!
By far the best chinese i've ever had. Drinks are great so is the service and atmosphere. Recommend getting the lounge style seating if possible very comfy and romantic. A+
All around very good. No complaints as my mouth was too busy eating the excellent food. Will come again
The food was excellent, the environment warm and inviting, service great, and selection was amazing!
Pearl is elegant. The service is excellent and the food delicious.
A great place for a romantic diner without breaking you.
Dining at Pearl (located in MGM Grand in Las Vegas) was a sublime experience! We have eaten a lot of Chinese food in our lives, but NOTHING like this! From our first course to dessert and the Jasmine Green Tea (which you MUST have!), the food & wine suggestions were succulent and beyond delicious!! There are no condiments on the table...the food simply does not need it; the chicken & Kobe beef are moist & succulent, the sauces perfectly balanced and the soup was a symphony of flavor! The food is SO fresh and contains only the highest quality ingredients. The restaurant is beautiful; the ambiance is romantic and elegant. The service was the best - everyone from the hostess to those who cleared our table were extremely attentive. Dress yourself up a little & have a great meal at Pearl! I simply cannot praise this establishment enough! Note: a bit pricey, but worth EVERY penny!!!
My wife and I frequent Asian restaurants in the Albany, NY area. We have also traveled to Bejing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and other Asian ports while on a cruise. We were treated to great Asian food everywhere. I can honestly say that our dinners at Pearl were superior to all those experiences. Not in a big way but a subtile dfistinction that set Pearl apard from the every day "good" Chinese cuisine.
THe drinks were very good but $15 each a mojito.....we did the all inclusive meal fro $49 each which was very good and enough food but there is no atmosphere or ambiance whatsoever.
We discovered the Pearl thru web searches for the Best Restaurants in Vegas. The Pearl was in all Top 10's and rated #1 in some. It's not #1 and it may not be in the Top 10 but its still exceptional food and ambiance at a suprisingly reasonable price compared to the steak and italian restuarnts that appear in the Top 10.
Really excellent Chinese food and a very friendly and welcoming staff. Eating there felt like a genuine treat.
Interesting Items. Nice decor. Go if you are in for a change of pace.
Excellent food. They offered more expensive menus and we decided for others that were on the menu and were excellent and less expensive. Check the menu! I recommend it.
Everything was very nice except they brougt us dinner #1 instead of # 2 which we ordered. They charged for the # 2 which was $10 more and when we told them that we didn't get the lobster,they realized that they had served us the #1 instead of #2 They apologized and credited the difference.
The food was very heavy and bland in taste. I had to basically make slurping noises in order to get more water. The corn and crab meat egg soup was fishy in taste as opposed to sweet and succulent. If youre hungry, this is not the place to eat as the portions are very small. Enough for two people at the most. The decor is beautiful, but honestly i wish i would have gone to PF changs...it would have been less expensive too. This is coming from someone who enjoys asian cuisine.
Overall food was good. Not much more spectaular than P.F. changs or similar. This is only a negative due to price. We ordered the spring menu but still failed to walk out under 200 dollars.
This restaurant has potential- the service is good but we were dissapointed in how much we paid for the simple food.
This is a much more expensive restaurant than it indicated on the website. Also the website gave it rave reviews and I do not think it deserved such ratings. In the future I will rely on my own instincts to choose restaurants when I am in Las Vegas. It was supposed to be our engagement celebration dinner and we indicated this on our reservation. We were not even acknowledged at all in this regard. I was disappointed to say the least. My fiancé works at a 5 star restaurant in our city and I believe I know a thing or two about 'good' food. The did pay attention to detail and were well trained however.
The food was outstanding, and perhaps it was an off night for Pearl, but the service was *very* slow as it was over an hour before our meal arrived with no explanation or apology. We practically had to light a fire in the middle of the table just for drink refills. i think this might be what it is like to be invisible? We were in Vegas for the weekend to celebrate a special occasion and unfortunately this wasn't one of them, which is really a shame.
There were more than 3 people in the restuarant. I bboked for 9pm and the place was virtually empty..it felt as if they were trying to rush us so that they could close. All our corses were served quickly and you could almost feel people watching us so that as soon as we finished our plates could be collected. After main course we were asked if we wanted anything else...not would you like the dessert menu or tea etc etc. We refused the offer of anything else and left and will not ever return.
We were really looking forward to Pearl based on the reviews we read on line. It's beautiful, but not as intimate as it looks on line. The servers were nice, but the food was very ordinary and some wasn't that good. We had the $60 per person family-style meal and the spareribs were dry and the rice wasn't hot. The lobster dish was full of nice chunks of lobster, but the carrots and pea pods with it were so ordinary. I really expected high-end, gourmet food, and I feel I was ripped off. With drinks and tip, we spent $180 on a meal that was worth about $40.
The food was not up to the standard that the restaurant gives off. I paid $105 dollars for 2 mains and 2 starters along with 3 drinks. I dont mind paying a high price for food as long as it tastes good. However the food was poor and did not live up to my expectations at all.
If you are looking for a 5* chef experience look elsewhere. They couldn't find my reservation. My daughter's wings were under cooked which is dangerous. The deep fried Italian sausage was a deep fried mushy rice ball. When I questioned it I was told to look closely to see the sausage! The dipping sauce for the pretzels was chalky. What is needed is a chef not a chef's name. I can get better food at a local bar for a 1/4 of the price!
I made reservations and flew guests into town from overseas to join me for dinner at the Pearl and then attend the Andrea Bocelli concert on December 10th. When we arrive at the Pearl (at the reserved time), the restaurant is closed for a private function. No management was on site. The individual on site didn't provide the contact information for management that I requested. They will never get my business or a positive recommendation from me.
They wrote our reservations for the wrong day. The day they had us scheduled for (Wednesday) the restaurant is closed.