‘Schloop, schloop, schloop,’ is the sound that reverberates through C Pearl every night as patrons suck down oysters. It’s particularly prominent on a Wednesday night when platters are sailing around the room for 218RMB a dozen.
When it comes to China and oysters, C Pearl’s team has plenty of experience, with locations in Shanghai, Fuzhou and Wuxi. And just this autumn, they partnered up with world champion shucker Patrick Murray to open Pearl Diver in Toronto. This is all to say, the crew know their bivalves.
Beijing’s outpost is C Pearl, a three-storey haunt on quiet Xinyuan Jie, near Liangmaqiao. A wide, winding spiral staircase of reclaimed wood leads up to the dining room, which is outfitted in colourful panels of more up-cycled wood, concrete floors and exposed brick. Grab one of the many chairs at the bar if you’re intent on getting close to the shucking action, or bunk into tables with bench seating along the wall. Service is accommodating, and proprietor Rudy Guo himself is a charming host.
The main affair is oysters, naturally, and C Pearl offers a rotating cast of fresh imports from all over the world. Prices range roughly from 38RMB to 72RMB per piece, with discounts for ordering half a dozen or a dozen at a time.
Man can’t live on oysters alone, and while the dishes are good, nothing reaches spectacular heights. A beef carpaccio (87RMB) drizzled with chilli mayo is too sparingly sprinkled with rocket (arugula) leaves, and the capers described in the menu are nowhere to be seen. Still, cleaning the plate proves no problem. We snap up the smoky and delightful grilled squid in the ‘warm salad’ (78RMB), which actually isn’t that warm. The beetroot in it could have been roasted; instead it’s canned.
We could eat several lamb chops (197RMB), so tender that we don’t mind the absent honey yogurt goat's cheese dressing that was promised. We desperately want to love the 36-month Iberico pork (288RMB), a rare find in Beijing. A complex and nutty meat, Iberico pork – from the same black Iberian pig as the luxury Iberico ham – should be treated like beef and only touched with heat. Here, it’s been a moment too long under the flame. But this is a minor qualm that doesn’t save it from disappearing from our plate. Everything’s made better by the spectacular Drunken Tiramisu (67RMB), an over-the-top, decadent finish to a night.
For everything raw and oyster, C Pearl has you covered. Just don’t expect anything earth-shattering if it’s not coming from behind the oyster bar.