The pancake in Pearl’s homemade shredded pancake-beef soup is actually linguine-size crepe strips with a texture somewhere between that of fried dumpling dough and flaky pastry. The strands float in a powerful chili-laced broth filled with chunks of star anise-infused beef and a thatch of Chinese greens that brings devotees from as far away as Irvine and Ventura. Locals come to the shoe box-size café for Shanghai-style rice plates and delicate shrimp dumplings. The more than 50 dishes on the menu average less than $4.75, and each is enough for a meal. Try the beef simmered in spicy bean-based sa-ta sauce with preserved vegetables, stewed pork leg with greens, or cold noodles and shredded chicken in peanut sauce.