Pearl Castle

Restaurant: Pearl Castle
Cuisine: Taiwanese/Bubble Tea/Drinks/Hot Pot/Chinese
Last visited: March 22, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 3779 Sexsmith Rd
Price Range: $10 or less, $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3.5-4
Service: 2
Ambiance: 3.5
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:

  • 4 locations in Metro Vancouver
  • Very popular for bubble tea
  • Popular for hot pot/dinner
  • Taiwanese cuisine
  • Local favourite
  • Extensive drink/food menu
  • More pearls in drinks during day than night
  • Award winning for “Best Bubble Tea”
  • Busy/line-ups
  • Quick/casual
  • Cheap eats/budget friendly
  • Family friendly
  • Open late
  • Sun-Thurs: 11:30am-1am
  • Fri-Sat: 11:30am-2am

**Recommendations: Bubbles Teas and anything deep fried in their appetizer section is good. Their deep frying is pretty famous here. Fried Chicken Nuggets, Fried Red Fermented Pork and they’re popular for hot pot, but I find those to be okay. The Kimchi Shredded Pork Fried Rice I remember being good, but it’s been a while since I’ve had it.

This is definitely the most popular bubble tea place in Richmond. It’s probably the second most popular bubble tea franchise in Metro Vancouver after Bubble World too. Pearl Castle is slightly pricier and a bit “fancier” in style and it is considered more of a dinner place than Bubble World is. With 4 locations in Metro Vancouver Pearl Castle is continuing to spread it’s wings as a local favourite.

Although most known for their bubble tea, I’d say they’re equally as popular for their Taiwanese cuisine. It’s a quick, casual, budget friendly and it recently won the Diner’s Choice Award for “The Best Taiwanese Cafe & Bubble Tea” at the HSBC Chinese Restaurant Awards. They have a wide selection for drinks and hot food and it’s constantly busy with a usual line up on weekdays and especially on weekends. The food is nothing out of this world or representable of amazing Taiwanese food, but it’s made upon order and good for a bubble tea place.

I’ve been here on numerous occasions over several years, mainly for drinks, and I find it pretty good. They’re just a bit inconsistent in terms of the amount of pearls they give. With photos to prove, I can say they give way more pearls during the day than they do at night and it’s not surprising if they run out on weekends near closing time.

Anyways this post sums up three separate visits to Pearl Castle made within 6 months. It’s definitely a popular dinner spot where people feel comfortable bringing their families because it’s bright, clean (from what I could see, but I’ve heard stories), and it offers great value. They have set menus that are appropriate for two and for under $10 it’s a sure deal. On the other hand the bubble teas are pricey so that’s where they get you.

The only thing I can’t stand here is that they refuse to customize drinks and the service hasn’t been too great. They also only offer fresh fruit drinks under their “fresh fruit juice” section which has about 6 offerings. I’ll stop myself from going on a rant, but seriously they won’t do the simplest thing like blending ice into a fresh fruit juice. The only fresh fruit they offer is strawberry and the rest is all powder. Therefore I much rather have Dragon Ball Tea House, although that’s not even really a restaurant.

With a hundred bubble tea houses in Richmond Pearl Castle isn’t my favourite, but it’s always where I end up and I don’t even know why. I might sound like I’m hating on it, but I’m not, I just get frustrated that they won’t customize anything! I’m not expecting Starbucks, but c’mon I’m paying for it! Pearl Castle is like a default and I can’t even say it’s due to convenience because bubble tea is way too convenient almost anywhere in Richmond. But for some reason I just always end up here even if it’s not my favourite.

On the table:

Passion Fruit Green Tea – 5/6

  • Around $4.25-4.50 Large: $5.25-$5.50
  • This is actually very good here. It’s sweet, but tangy and still light and refreshing especially with the green tea base.
  • Notice the amount of pearls – ordered during the day.
  • The pearls are chewy and nicely sweetened and well made.

**Coconut Forest – 5/6

  • Coconut, milk, pineapple $5.25 Large: $5.95
  • This is one of their house special drinks and they’re pretty expensive and they’re not even that big. This was a large.
  • Notice the amount of pearls: Ordered during the day. Still well made, nicely sweetened and chewy though.
  • The drink is frothy and creamy, but not heavy and it tastes like a Pina Colada. I actually really like this and it’s not overly sweet, but it’s pricey.
  • PS: The names of the house special drinks are so random, lost in translation and therefore entertaining to read.

Taro – 4.5/6

  • $4.50 Large: $5.50
  • They offer fresh or powdered taro. I love real taro in savoury forms, but not in sweet. I always get powdered taro bubble.
  • It tastes like sweet creamy shortbread cookies.
  • The taro here is also noticeably not as sweet as other places too, which I think is good.
  • Notice the amount of pearls: Ordered during the night. There’s way less!
  • The pearls are consistent in quality though, just not quantity.

This is the same taro bubble tea (above) ordered on a different night. Again, notice the amount of pearls. Way less than during the day!


Japanese Green Tea (Matcha) Frappe w/Milk – 4.5/6

  • $4.75 Large: $5.75
  • This was ordered during the day, but I ordered half pearls, which is how much you get if you order it during the night.
  • They do a great job on their “frappe” or slush series here, but they won’t do it for any of their drinks unless it’s under the “frappe” category. It drives me insane because it’s just adding ice!
  • Japanese green tea slush or “frappe” is pretty much the drink I always get here, or anywhere. It’s one of my favourite bubble teas and I always slush all my bubble teas. It’s funny because I used to really dislike matcha.
  • It’s not the best Japanese green tea slush I’ve had though, although still very good.

Japanese Green Tea (Matcha) Frappe w/Milk

  • $4.75 Large: $5.75
  • They add more matcha powder to it now, notice the change in colour.
  • It’s still good and I could barely tell the difference.

**Fried Chicken Nuggets – 5.5/6

  • $5.75
  • A popular Taiwanese street food and a must order dish at any bubble tea place. Perfect for snacking along side bubble tea.
  • Traditionally they’re fried with some Thai basil leaves and garlic before serving and I’ve only seen Beefy Beef Noodle and Kalvin’s Szechuan do that, but the actual nuggets taste better here.
  • These are a 6/6 here, but I just ding them the .5 because the Thai leaves and garlic really make a flavourful and aromatic difference.
  • If you’ve never had Taiwanese style fried chicken nuggets, you are missing out big time. Seriously.
  • This is the must order here and it’s as popular as Phnom Penh Chicken Wings – it would actually be great with that lemon pepper dipping sauce too!
  • It’s Shake n’ Bake Popcorn Chicken 2.0 Taiwanese style!

  • It’s not that greasy for being deep fried and it’s one of the best “fried chickens” you’ll taste at that price.
  • It’s big pieces of extremely crispy and crunchy boneless and juicy dark meat chicken, heavily crusted and perfectly seasoned.
  • I don’t even know if there’s skin on them because the batter is so crusted on and everything is so crispy that you can’t tell.
  • Taiwanese chicken nuggets are always made with a nice coating of potato starch and corn starch, but these ones are intensely crusted with it. More so than other places so it’s crunchier too!
  • It has a powdery texture and it almost tastes like it’s crusted with nuts, but it’s not. It’s almost like rice crispies that pop in your mouth.
  • The chicken is well marinated and the seasoning also includes 5 spice powder so it’s salty and incredibly aromatic with a hint of white pepper as well.
  • It’s perfectly seasoned, deliciously savoury, not spicy and the most addicting chicken bites ever.

**Fried Red Fermented Pork – 6/6

  • $4.75
  • This is also delicious! It’s ‘peasant food”, but in Taiwanese cuisine it’s almost what they do best. The cheap snacks!
  • I know the photo looks like a massive schnitzel, but it’s not that big. It’s not that small either though. The de
  • The name doesn’t sound good, but it is and it’s one of my favourites.
  • It’s like Taiwanese style deep fried BBQ pork with a honey garlic sweet sauce drizzled on top.
  • It’s definitely a sweet and savoury meat dish and it’s more sweet and also nutty from the crust, but there’s no nuts.
  • The red colour kind of freaks me out because of the dye, but just try and overlook it.
  • It’s pounded nice and thin so it’s really tender like a schnitzel and then it’s super crunchy and even crunchier than the fried chicken nuggets.
  • You don’t get as much pork flavour, but it’s still delicious!
  • The savoury flavour comes from the Chinese fermented bean curd paste the pork marinades in, which is similar to miso paste. That’s where the “fermented” part comes in, the pork itself is actually fresh and it’s fried upon order. It has a very savoury and potent aroma, but with the sweet sauce to balance it out, it’s perfect.
  • These are one of the best “chicken strips” you’ll have and you don’t even need dipping sauce.

Taiwanese Sausage3/6

  • $4.95
  • I’m not a fan of Chinese sausages really, but I like the Taiwanese sausage more than the Cantonese sausage.
  • The Taiwanese sausage is almost like SPAM and I prefer it to the cured Cantonese sausage.
  • It’s very soft and tender and almost like a meat ball meets ham. These ones were leaner than usual and they also have a sweet flavour.
  • I would have liked it a bit more crispy.
  • It’s served with salty sweet garlic oyster sauce for dipping.

Taiwanese Meat Sauce on Rice – 3/6

  • $7-8
  • I love Taiwanese Meat Sauce on Rice and this is DEFINITELY home cooked peasant food or comfort food.
  • It’s a pretty good deal and it’s reasonable to share as a snack between 2 people.

  • The meat sauce is made from ground pork and it’s usually much saucier and even more grounded than this.
  • It’s pretty hearty and it’s supposed to be super saucy. This one was a bit dry and crumbly.
  • This is definitely not a great place to have your first Taiwanese Meat Sauce on Rice if you’ve never tried it.

Extreme Spicy Hot Pot – 3/6

  • SPICY! Includes one bowl of rice $8.95
  • Everyone orders hot pot here. It’s a great deal and they’re mini hot pots although they’re big enough for two.
  • I can handle my spice, but this one is pretty damn spicy. The spice is in the beginning, middle and end and it lingers for a really long time. My bubble tea wouldn’t even kill it.
  • It’s served with a bowl of rice and a side of satay hot pot sauce for dipping.
  • The dessert varies, and this time was a strawberry.

  • The hot pots are full of ingredients and they give you lots of variety so I think that’s why people like it.
  • There’s cubes of pork’s blood, fatty slices of pork, beef balls, various fish cakes, tofu slices, tons of cabbage and oyster mushrooms.
  • The fatty pork slices are those gelatinous chewy ones that I hate, but the other stuff I like.
  • The broth itself was a bit oily with chili oil floating on the top, but it wasn’t that flavourful and a bit one dimensional for me.
  • I’m not really a fan of hot pot in general, so I don’t really dig this kind of thing. The value is certainly there though.

Hot Pot Set

  • Udon + $2
  • This was a while ago and I don’t remember what hot pot we ordered, but just showing the photo.

All of the hot pots come loaded with ingredients. It’s a standard amount and variety of ingredients that go into each hot pot so it’s only the broth that varies.

The udon is actually really fresh and good here and you can add it to your set meal for and extra $2 and they still give you the rice.


Pearl Castle (Sexsmith) on Urbanspoon


  • Gary says:

    I’ve been here a couple times, and I also have the same feeling towards the service/environment/prices. Overpriced IMO compared Dragon Ball like you said (which has awesome bubble tea!).

    LOL @ the peasant food reference. So true! πŸ˜‰

  • Elaine says:

    Their Milk Seafood Udon Soup is the best!!! Try it next time =)

  • munchkie says:

    Nice post! That taro bubble tea is making me drool. It’s my favourite drink at Pearl Castle. I have to admit though, the music in there is a little loud and drives me mental (I’m getting old, yikes!) I’ve only ever tried the chicken nuggets there, not as good as #1 Beef Noodle House, but definitely a close second. I’m not a hot pot person either so I’m glad I didn’t order any of those dishes…

  • Bow says:

    And people wonder why I dislike sandwiches…? !!! With food like this, I find lunch interesting and tasty ; the green matcha looks good, I see that you got shorted on pearls…it changes the drink. The hot pot definitely appeals to the Asian palate. Definitely heavy food, though but you wouldn’t eat it every day( I think a daily bubble tea would add a lotta pounds to one’s frame).
    Mijune, don’t they know a celebrity ? I’d make you a special order.

  • KimHo says:

    The only thing I can’t stand here is that they refuse to customize drinks

    Next, we will have Five Easy Pieces

    I disagree with this statement here. Customization is not something that a restaurant is required to do. They could try to accommodate you; however, they are not obliged to do so. Playing devil’s advocate here: A restaurant created a dish (or drink in this case) and that’s how they intent it to be served. Customization can lead to queue backups and, in the case you don’t like it, you can’t hold the restaurant responsible for anything! πŸ˜›

    Bow, probably because you haven’t had a really good sandwich? πŸ™‚

    That aside, me being me, I don’t care much about BBT… I have been there just to have a place to chat late at night. If there were other places open that late at night, chances are I would go there instead.

  • 4SlicesofCheese says:

    Actually Mijune I was there that day haha
    I thought it was you, we were waiting in line together, but I didn’t want to interrupt you with your friend.
    To be honest, I don’t know what the hype about this place is, I mean its pretty decent food and drinks, but the place is packed constantly and there are a tonne of good BBT places out there, some debatably better.

    My meal was ok, I knew I should have ordered the fried stuff.. what was I thinking!
    I am off to Taiwan in 2 weeks so I can try some of the real stuff!

  • Megan says:

    I don’t think they have 4 locations anymore-the Coquitlam/PoCo location is closed πŸ™ Which sucks because that was a regular stop of mine with my friend-I loved their set lunch. I used to get spicy fried chicken, and it was HOT and really tasty.

  • Bow says:

    Kim, have eaten so many sandwiches, while going to school, after many years of work eating them, am tired of cold food. Give me hot food.

  • Linda says:

    mmmm did i tell you how much i love bbt?? i love it! i think it’s the only thing i don’t get sick of at all πŸ™‚ i had a phase of drinking it almost once a week a while ago and i miss doing that! my fave is still by far the taro flavour.. i like it in powder form too.. i can’t even begin to fathom them using fresh in a bbt drink πŸ™‚ my fave is the taro ice cream slush from bubble world – so creamy and delish!

    all the appy snacks here look really good – especially the chicken nuggets – great zoomed in shot you have here – it really shows just how cripsy the chicken is πŸ™‚ i wish the hot pot dish had tendon in it but i really do like that they have pigs blood – that’s one of my go to ingredients for congee – that and century egg! πŸ™‚

    i just remembered that main tea house closed πŸ™ i was so sad to hear that since i grew up drinking bbt there and so did my brother lol

  • Nathan Chan says:

    I tried the black sesame coffee here last time. It works surprisingly well, the oil from the sesame does a pretty good job filling in for the coffee cream.

  • Mijune says:

    @Gary – lol yup! as long as the peasant food is cheap… it’s an easy winner!

    @Elaine – I heard!! thank you Elaine! I’m always tempted to try that one.

    @Munchkie – oh oh oh looks like we have similar tastes!! Yes, nothing really “wrong” with the chicken nuggets here, but there is better πŸ™‚

    @Bow – *blush* aw Bow!!! lol… well the day I get a “customized drink” here I hope everyone else does too. btw what?! You don’t like sandwiches? Do you like bahn mi? Or no sandwiches at all. I know it’s kind of a “boring” choice, but they are getting better nowadays. Thanks for commenting as always!

    @KimHo – sorry I beg to differ :)… surprise surprise we butt tastes again =p Hey if I’m paying for it and I’m asking for it, and you give me a heads up that you’re not held responsible.. then give it to me!! It’s like requesting no mayo in a burger or asking to add mushrooms in a burger if I pay extra… it’s not up to you… customer is paying. You can suggest it to “not be a good idea” or why it “wouldn’t work”, but in the end if the customer insists then just do it if you can.. and they CAN.

    @4SlicesofCheese – WHAT?! you were?!?! You should have joined out table!! My friend was visiting from out of town and we wanted to order more stuff and couldn’t finish!! You should have been like “yo Follow Me Foodie, I’m 4slicesofCheese”… and I would have been like table for 4 please! unless you were with more ppl then I would increase that number of course…

    @Megan – what!? really?! I think they’d do well in that location too!! Thanks for the update hun!

    @Bow – ahhh gotcha! How bout hot sandwiches?

    @Linda – YES!!! powdered taro > real taro bubble tea… I like real taro in savoury forms though. I LOVE The taro ice cream slush at Bubble World!! I love it at Big Orange actually best because they use soft serve ice cream πŸ™‚ YUM! Century egg!!

    @Nathan Chan – My friend ordered that but I didn’t get to try it… next time I will! I try to avoid coffee at night though and I’m always here at night!

  • whiners says:

    whenever i go i always get their black sesame coffee even though i get sick from it every single time..
    weak stomach + oily drink.. not a good mix..
    but it’s so good.. πŸ™‚

  • Mijune says:

    @whiners – you AND Nathan Chan!! Hmmm I better go try it… or share it.. if it’s that rich! Thanks!

  • 4SlicesofCheese says:

    Haha actually I just noticed that is me waiting by the door in the first pic.

    I was saying to my friend omg thats Mijune! Felt like a celebrity spotting moment.

  • Mijune says:

    @4SlicesofCheese – BWAHAHAHAH! I don’t know what’s funnier, the first part or second part… lol i’m far from a celeb! If it happens again you better say hello AND we’ve met at the theatre before already!!! This is the 3rd time that’s someone has spotted themselves in my pics! Awesome!

  • bc1200 says:

    i will never go pearl castle ever again , their service is piece of crap , i went with my friends today. and i had to wait 40 min for my food…. and they ignored us many times, pisses me off.

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