Review of 'Pearl Dragon Express'

We had been told that the “Pearl Dragon” was a very good Chinese restaurant in Southend but were disappointed to find that the day we were in town they were fully booked so we chose the next best thing and ordered some takeaway from their sister “Pearl Dragon Express” restaurant next door.

The menu includes a number of higher-end dishes such as “Soft Shell Crab in Chili & Peppercorn Salt” (£4.30 each) and “Dragon Prawns” (£7.80). There is an attempt here to avoid many of the typical Chinese restaurant clichés with a focus on fresh and quality ingredients but the western favourites such as “Crispy Seaweed” (£3.40), “Hot & Sour” soup (£3), “Sesame Prawns on Toasts” [sic] (£5) and “Prawn Crackers” (£1.40) also here for those who crave the familiar. The main section of the menu consists of a grid with “flavour/other ingredient” listed on the left and along the top the “main ingredient” filled with whether the options are available and their costs. Quite an interesting way to do this and offers quite a large number of choices showing either their talent at being able to prepare all of them or desperation to appeal to the most number of people…I would think the former if I can judge based on our experience.

Being overwhelmed by the menu we chose the simple approach and went for “Set Menu B” (for a minimum of 2 persons; £13.50 each; Plus delivery charge of £1 within a 2 mile radius or £2 between 2 and 4 miles). This was a good choice and covered a good portion of the menu. Ordering was a bit tricky with the heavy accent of the staff on the phone but I did manage to order what we wanted and it was delivered to our hotel in about 40 minutes in plastic takeaway containers, fresh and piping hot (though, to be fair, the restaurant, is only about 3/4 of a mile down the road…).

The meal consisted of:

  • Crispy Aromatic Duck - Which included the requisite small rice pancakes, spring onions, cucumber and hoisin sauce. It was a full leg of duck delivered in a metallic paper envelope to keep it fresh (and not sweaty) which was very moist and delicate, coming apart easily with a fork. Very tasty and just the right number of pancakes.
  • Prawns in Cantonese Sauce - Very tasty with large plump prawns in a slightly sweet sauce.
  • Chicken with Chilli & Black Bean Sauce - A bit bland and very liquid-y but good enough.
  • Crispy Shredded Beef - Perhaps the only disappointment here, these strings of deep-fried beef were quite tough and very sweet.
  • Special Fried Rice - A good portion with a generous amount of vegetables but not so flavourful it overwhelmed the other dishes.

What was really nice was to see the care taken to deliver the food to us in appropriate containers so that there was no sweaty food with the flavours and textures correctly separated so the dishes could be enjoyed as best as possible delivered to the door. There was no included cutlery though for us this was not an issue (as we used plates and such from our hotel).

We would really like to visit the restaurant when we return but this take-away sample was quite good and certainly a cut above the average Chinese restaurant take-away.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2017-11-25

Cuisine: Chinese

Address: 20 Eastern Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea SS1 2ER ENGLAND

Public Transport: NRLOGO Southend East

Location: Southend-on-Sea (England)



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Telephone: +44 (0) 1702 611090