It was a Sunday when the hubby and I set out to find a light, filling lunch. We pointed our car to Pearl’s Vietnamese and Hawaiian Sandwiches, a relatively new restaurant located in a small shopping center. When we arrived, we found a bright and sparkly clean interior. The take out menus were printed on a thick, glossy cardstock meant to hold up over time, showing that someone was paying careful attention to the small details.
After perusing the menu, we approached the counter to order. The server was polite and engaging, offering up multiple recommendations easily. We selected two of his recommendations–a Special Combination for me and a Lemon Grass Grilled Chicken for my husband. If you purchase a sandwich and a soft drink, a bag of chips is included at no additional cost. My husband went that route, but I opted to try a mango bubble tea and purchase my chips separately. The server did warn me of the price difference in advance which seemed fair.
The chips sat on a rack by the register, so after ordering we made our selections and I settled in at a table while my hubby filled his cup. After a brief wait, my bubble tea was brought out to the table.
The bubble tea was thin and frothy with a light mango flavor. It was more like a juice than a smoothie in consistency, which made it very drinkable. A generous helping of traditional tapioca balls sat on the bottom of the cup, a slightly chewy counterpoint to the refreshing mango drink. I was surprised to find that my cup also included a handful of ice cubes, but after a moment, they no longer caught my attention.
We sat and chatted in the cool restaurant as we waited for our sandwiches. The decor was minimal but cleanly done–light yellow walls provided a backdrop for gallery wrapped images of island scenes.
Our sandwiches came up promptly–crusty french bread overflowing with shredded carrots. My sandwich, shown at the top of the post, featured ham, headcheese, and pork roll in addition to the usual suspects of pickled carrots, jalapeno, cilantro, and cucumber. It was also supposed to have both house mayonnaise and pate, but if they were there I could not detect them. I even inspected the bread to see if I simply wasn’t tasting it, but I did not visually see either spread. Flavorwise, I didn’t miss them. The french bread delivered on it’s striking good looks with a not too crusty exterior and a soft interior which supported the fillings without flaking to pieces in my lap as I ate. The pickled carrots were surprisingly sweet with a slight tang. It was unexpected after the other Vietnamese sandwiches I have tried, but I won’t rule it out as “bad”. In fact, for many people acclimated to American cuisine, the sweet flavor may be preferred. The de-seeded jalapeno slices were applied with a light touch and even though I fall squarely in the “mild” camp of spicy food, I didn’t find it overly spicy. The cilantro was fresh and the cucumber added a nice crunch.
Having never tried headcheese, I was a little nervous about just what I might find on my sandwich. Taking the sandwich as a whole, the meats played second fiddle to the vegetables. Curious, I picked out pieces of each of the meats to try individually. Each one provided a different note of pork flavor. The pork roll was light and salty. The ham had a stronger and more familiar pork flavor. The head cheese had a mild flavor and a spongy texture. Given my aversion to spongy, meaty textures, it’s not something I would eat by itself, but on the sandwich, the texture was not noticeable and I enjoyed it.
My hubby declared his sandwich “good!”, though he remarked that he preferred sandwiches which weren’t quite as sweet. He also felt that it was slightly more meat heavy than some other banh mi he had tried.
Pearl offers friendly service, fresh ingredients and tasty sandwiches. They seem to be tailoring their menu to American palates with sweeter sandwiches and thinner bubble teas. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, in fact if you have friends or family who are reluctant to try “those weird sandwiches”, this might be an excellent starting point. In addition to sandwiches and bubble teas, they also offer hot soups. There is an entire section of the menu devoted to vegetarian sandwiches–made with tofu or meat substitutes. I would happily go back if I was in the area.
Total for the meal: $15.22 (Includes two sandwiches, one soft drink, one bag of chips, and one bubble tea. Note: the other bag of chips was included with the purchase of sandwich and soft drink.)