Hands down this is one of the finest restaurants in the Falls Church area. Sea Pearl blends a charming aquatic theme, played out with its atmosphere and décor, with its cuisine’s sumptuous flavors and novel expertise.
Sea Pearl, founded in late 2008 by Ly Lai of Falls Church’s Vietnamese restaurant, Four Sisters, removes diners from its suburban environs. The soft blues and oranges juxtaposed with dark wood tables add to the restaurant’s appeal, but the real delight is how deftly Sea Pearl manages an aquatic theme: the restaurant is divided in sections by large, slim barriers of Capiz shells dangling from the ceiling, lit by lights. The spectacle lends Sea Pearl a sense of the ocean bubbling up. The physical aesthetic here is really phenomenal.
The ambiance fits Sea Pearl’s cuisine perfectly – this seafood restaurant boasts a fresh menu for this winter season. Including fresh tilapia, sea scallops, trout, cod, tuna – there’s a large array of fish with the chef’s preparation ranges from light and tangy to dark and creamy.
The meal begins with one of the restaurant’s first courses or a salad. For winter, the kitchen furnishes its Ocean Bisque ($6), a bowl of hearty, bold flavors – fish, shellfish in a thick, delectable tomato and crème fraiche base. The bisque is satisfying in its flavors as well as a pretext to the main course: the fish was absolutely delicious, and the creamy base was not overpowering.
Following the soup, I tried the Citrus Salad ($8), which combined baby greens in a lemon vinaigrette with Medjool dates, shaved fennel and toasted pine nuts, with several slices of orange and grapefruit. The salad not only provided an excellent complement to the bisque, it freshened the palate for the main entrée, Pan Roasted Peppered Salmon ($18). Succulent meat dressed in a creamy sauce of tomato, curry and butter, the salmon dish exemplified the expert craft of Sea Pearl’s kitchen. Well portioned and absolutely enjoyable, the salmon shared the plate with a side of lentils and sautéed cabbage and pureed potatoes. The dish rounded off the meal perfectly, and even left, should the diner like, room for dessert.
From hostess to waiter to owner, the recommendation across the board was the Oven Roasted Chilean Sea Bass ($24) with baby bok choy and jasmine rice. As opposed to most preparations one would find, Sea Pearl adds more zest than heaviness to the sea bass’s dressing, using a spicy miso blend rather than a cream-based sauce.
For those diners who wish their dining’s denouement to include dessert, Sea Pearl’s dessert menu is delightfully simple, although, once again, novel. The banal-sounding Brulée Banana Split ($10) comes recommended, and its unique flavors are more than evident in the description – three scoops of cappuccino and caramel ice cream with chocolate mousse, toasted walnuts and caramel sauce, delicious.
Although dessert would have been an excellent end to the meal, one only has to feast upon the surroundings to savor how unique a gustatory landscape Sea Pearl has carved for itself. It’s a first rate dining experience, sharing space with a luxurious 40-foot bar that snakes around the back wall of the host stand.
To the right of guests as they enter the restaurant is a cornered off lounge for late night meals, mingling and live music. Everything seems to glow with a pattern that resembles a pearl, even the mosaics in the bathroom.
Sea Pearl has managed a great feat, to create a holistic experience, from the vantage points of the entrance to the table. With its kitchen’s innovation and dedication, Sea Pearl is a fabulous culinary addition to Falls Church, and, a seafood enthusiast hopes, one that will remain a strong fixture for years to come.
8191 Strawberry Lane, Suite 2
Falls Church, Va.
Monday – Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Thursday – Saturday, 11 – 2 a.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.