Chinese-American Pearl’s Best Quality Daughter Restaurant Gives Uneven, But Still Stylish Portrayal in San Antonio


Red-cooked beef short rib from new Chinese-American restaurant Best Quality Daughter at the Pearl grabbed the attention of the New York Times last month, with an article that detailed its elaborate embers and tracked co-chef and co-owner Jennifer Hwa. Dobbertin story of the Taiwanese family restaurant in San Antonio.

Here she writes new chapters of that story with co-chef and co-owner Quealy Watson, her partner in the Pearl food hall Tenko Ramen kiosk and now Best Quality Daughter, which opened in November in the former style house. cottage at The Granary. ‘Cue and Brew.

This prime rib, a single massive bone as big as one of those dino ribs in a barbecue, is worth the national press. He presented himself to the table like a rock star, draped in a mahogany robe of soft icing, smoky and as aromatic as a spice bazaar and followed by an entourage of herbs, Bibb lettuce, a rainbow of pickles and gravy bowls. Tender enough to separate with chopsticks, the rib is a DIY kit for ssam-style lettuce wraps, enough for four and more than enough to justify its $ 60 price tag.

Red-Cooked Prime Rib is a giant braised and glazed prime rib served with Bibb lettuce, herbs, sauces and house pickles at Best Quality Daughter, an Asian-American restaurant at The Pearl.

Mike Sutter / Staff

Beyond the showboat coast, the menu brought both surprises and highlights. No one in town does anything like Thai curry baba ganoush, a huge platter of still hot crispy rice chips from the kitchen, served with a bubbling eggplant curry that was nothing like baba ganoush, but which cares? It was lush and creamy and turned those rice crisps into an Asian style twist on crisps and salsa that I can stand.

The fragrant richness of the curry also swirled into a hybrid version of dan dan noodles, a pasta dish with spicy ground pork that’s typically a study of the potency and potency of chili oil. But the lush curry gave it layers of earthy sweetness that both anchored it and let it fly. In a more familiar vein, salt and pepper shrimp brought the simple pleasures of fried shrimp, meant to be eaten tail and all, executed here with precision and a spicy and colorful robe of chili peppers and green onions, cilantro and lime.

The restaurant takes its name from a line from the movie “The Joy Luck Club”, referring to the relationship between Chinese-American women and their Chinese mothers. That’s a solid premise for a restaurant with its roots in tradition and branches that go wherever they want. And it’s a beautiful place, a total transformation of the old barbecue shop log cabin aesthetic, designed by some of the city’s top designers and architects.

There’s a Southern-style veranda, a carpeted gossip den, and a main dining area bathed in a pink glow that’s both kitsch and heartwarming. You can play the landmark on the cool custom San Antonio wallpaper by the bar, itself a neon-lit mix of modernist boutique and meth lab.

The bar and <a class=main dining room reflect the cute and quirky style of Best Quality Daughter at the Pearl.”/>

The bar and main dining room reflect the cute and quirky style of Best Quality Daughter at the Pearl.

Mike Sutter / Staff

From this bar come cocktails using plum wine, five spice bitters and chrysanthemum syrup among other unique ingredients. The best of these cocktails was called Drinking Alone with the Moon, deploying Japanese whiskey liqueur and brandy to supercharge the plum blossoms and star anise. In this enchanting setting, a rum-spiced Thai iced tea with tapioca boba pearls was an ideal appetizer for a clientele who preferred hanging out in a bubble tea bar rather than a stuffy lounge.

Best Quality Daughter lets you accessorize her prominent branded chopsticks, coasters and plates with solid and colorful dishes like dark purple Sichuan sticky eggplants, flashy green gay lan Chinese broccoli, all fresh in a tangy brown oyster sauce, even vegan potstickers made with Impossible Burger “meat” that tastes and feels like you haven’t missed a thing.

But one prop collided with all the others. Knotty fried shallots hard as salted shrapnel were sprinkled over a range of dishes, from gai lan with crab-fried rice and ginger miso noodles with wontons, to crushed cucumbers and snow peas – one careless trim that compromised everything she touched. Some he destroyed.

Some never had a chance, anyway. The crushed cucumbers weren’t crushed at all, just sliced ​​and covered in tahini and too much chili oil. The soggy shrimp wontons disintegrated to the touch, and the wok-charred snow peas were buried under so much parmesan and over-garnished arugula that they failed in their mission to add a contrasting touch of green. to the grease and fire that surrounded them.

Entrees include, clockwise from top left, Taiwanese popcorn fried chicken, Impossible vegan potstickers, and mochi cheddar hush puppies at Best Quality Daughter.

Entrees include, clockwise from top left, Taiwanese popcorn fried chicken, Impossible vegan potstickers, and mochi cheddar hush puppies at Best Quality Daughter.

Mike Sutter / Staff

The short and clever menu has carried out its Sino-American mission gracefully, for the most part. The crispy egg rolls took a creative twist with the crab pudding. The fried shiitake mushrooms sported a golden layer of breaded armor with a refreshing basil yogurt dip. The mochi cheddar hush puppies had the weight and bounce of southern spoon bread. And cashew chicken might work in the wok with the best Chinese cuisines.


602 avenue A au Pearl, 210-819-4236,

Quick bite: Stylish Chinese-American restaurant at the Pearl from Tenko Ramen chefs Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin and Quealy Watson

Hit: Red Cooked Beef Short Rib, Panang Curry Dan Dan Noodles, Drink Alone with the Moon Cocktail

To lack: Shrimp wontons, crab fried rice, crushed cucumbers

Hours: Lunch 11 am-3pm Monday to Saturday; 11 am-4pm Sunday. Dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 5 pm-10pm from Friday to Saturday. On-site and curbside dining available.

Price range: Snacks, egg rolls and potstickers $ 6- $ 14; vegetable dishes, $ 10-14; noodle and rice dishes, $ 15- $ 25; large entrees, $ 18- $ 60; desserts, $ 4 to $ 7

Alcohol: Cocktails, wines and beers

***** Excellent, an almost perfect experience

**** Good, among the best in town

*** Medium, with some strong points

** Poor, with a buyback factor or two

* Bad, nothing to recommend

Food critics on Express-News pay for all meals.

For her style and strong lineage of chefs, Best Quality Daughter could do better on the way to the best.

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