Monday, May 24, 2010

First Thoughts On Red Pearl In Columbia

The Red Pearl opened this weekend -- bringing Chinese back to the Columbia lakeside spot that used to be Jesse Wong's Hong Kong, according to a comment from MJ2010.

As I posted before, I am looking for a copy of the Red Pearl's Chinese menu to translate into English.  (Update: They're giving the Sichuan menu to everyone.)  But people are already eating there, and MJ2010 wrote a long comment that I'm excerpting below:

I went to the Red Pearl last night - on its opening day. . . .The atmosphere was upscale casual, with the bar section separated from the dining room. The dining room is well designed with effective separation of several sections of tables by partitions topped with loose stone and opaque vertical glass. The floor plan allows fewer tables than it could, and this is a definite plus. So many other restaurants crowd the tables so close to each other that it detracts from the experience and ruins any sense of relative privacy. . . .
The menu is “Americanized” Chinese, with a few of the more intriguing dishes on the Chef’s Suggestions page, along with three preparations of duck, including my favorite “Tea Smoked Duck”. . .  I started with an appetizer of vegetable spring rolls, which were served hot on a small bed of greens and accompanied by both Chinese hot mustard and a sweet sauce for dipping. The spring rolls were not greasy, slightly crunchy wrapping over a tasty vegetable combination. . . . 
I also wanted to see what would come of a standard dish, so I ordered the shrimp in lobster sauce. It came with white rice, just sticky enough for chopsticks. The square serving plate arrived bearing ten LARGE, expertly deveined, shelled shrimp resting in a light lobster sauce that featured water chestnuts, peas, and mushrooms. The shrimp were too large for one bite, and I had to cut them in half. They were snow white accented with pink, and tender, yet dense enough to give great satisfaction when eating them. . . . .
If you try the Red Pearl, please add comments on the most-recent post -- like this one about the Sichuan menu.

13 comments:

Zevonista said...

I stopped in there a couple of weekends ago, before they opened. I asked the manager about their plans for an "authentic" menu. She said they were working on it, but wanted to concentrate on 'western' versions at first for simplicity.

Anonymous said...

Is this a place you could take children?

HowChow said...

@ Anon -- From the window, the place looked classy, but I have to believe it welcomes children. Sushi Sono welcomes children next door, and all the restaurants in that area are full of kids.

Anonymous said...

Disappointing.

Focused on Americanized Chinese. Don't expect authentic stuff here. Fair enough.

But the execution was lacking. The pan-fried noodles were far too salty. Double treasures (scallops & shrimps) was passable, but not exceptional - no different than any of the many takeout places in town.

Maybe it's still early, but couldn't help but thinking that this is the same kind of food we would get at the local Chinese take-out joint, except we're paying 3 times the price.

dzoey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dzoey said...

We tried it last night and had a decent experience. The staff was very attentive, though this could be because there were only four tables occupied in the restaurant. My wife remarked how similar the restaurant looked to Jesse Wong's, though there were some small decoration and layout changes.

The menu was Americanized Chinese, so we ordered accordingly. I don't consider Americanized Chinese food a bad thing - there's nothing wrong with adapting to the surrounding preferences as long as the food tastes good - it's just not authentic.

We had:
won ton soup - better than most

sweet & sour chicken - very well cooked - crispy with no heavy oil taste

veg. fried rice - a little on the bland side, could have used more seasoning

Mu Shi Chicken - better than most with no heavy oil taste. The kitchen does a good job with sautéing.

Hunan Bean-curd - I should have stuck with Cantonese dishes. This was OK, but the tofu didn't really pick up the taste of the sauce, so I had to make sure there was sauce with every bite.

One nice surprise - the duck sauce tasted home-made and not as cloying as the stuff in the packets.

The real challenge for Red Pearl will be to distinguish itself from the pack. There are several good Chinese restaurants in Columbia & Ellicott City and while Red Pearl was good, it's not better than Hunan Legend or Oriental Manor (the Rt 40 one - not sure of the name). I would go to Red Pearl if I was by the lake and felt like Chinese food, but it's not going to cause me to drive to downtown Columbia when I can go to Hunan Legend in my village center.

Clayton said...

Red Pearl and the Lakefront are just a short walk from my home. I tried Red Pearl yesterday and plan to go back. Steamed dumplings are special -- the wait for this appetizer is longer than at other places, but it was worth it. The waiter went into some explanation about the preparation that I won't try to condense here. I had the Emerald Shrimp as entree -- a little too salty, I think, but huge shrimp on a bed of very nice spinach. Also had the optional brown rice. Red Pearl seems to emphasize in-house or homemade elements in its dishes. It can also capitalize on the wonderful view out the large front windows.

Anonymous said...

My family went to the Red Pearl Restaurant last Sunday for early Father's Day dinner and completely LOVED the food!!! This was the BEST Chinese food I have eaten in a very long time! My family has been in the Chinese restaurant business all my life and this was a wonderful treat. The food is fresh, well prepared, tastes delicious, and the portions are plentiful (not skimpy like PF Chang's). Their appetizers were fabulous ... the best Spring Rolls I have ever had (crispy, fresh, and filling)! And their Peking Duck was very tasty ... the BEST (better than Peking Gourmet in Falls Church in my opinion) and their Peppered Beef was so good ... one of my favorite dishes, as well as, the Lemon Chicken, which was crispy, moist, and delicious! We will come back for more! They plan to serve Dim Sum soon too ... Can't wait!!! They did a beautiful job renovating the restaurant too!

To the person that posted "too Americanized ... not authentic enough" ... I don't think the general public here is ready for "real" authentic Chinese cuisine which I have seen in China like "stir-fried Beetles"!!! Why would a business waste time adding "authentic" dishes like this to the menu when they would NOT sell to most customers!

Anonymous said...

I ate at the Red Pearl last weekend and was delighted. The decor is very very nice. The food was head and shoulders what passes for Chinese in this country. I have eaten in Hong Kong and San Francisco's Chinatown and rank the red pearl right up there. Just relax and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Visited the Red Pearl a week after it opened and loved everything about it. Friendly staff and amazing atmosphere. Food was very good...will definitely go back, again and again and again!

Anonymous said...

I came with my parents today to try the new place out. From what i've read, the place has been getting mixed reviews, good and bad, so i decided to try it first hand to decide for myself. When we came in, we were greeted by Priscilla and Mei - Lin, which i later found out were the owner and general manager. We were seated and came across an excellent young server by the name of benjamin. He went through the menu extensively explaining how all appetizers are homemade as well as the duck being made fresh each day. We tried the tea smoked duck that ben informed us was the best seller, as well it should be. It was delightful, full of smokey flavor and a crunchy skin. We also tried some of the new szechuan dished that was recently incorporated into the menu.We had the beef tendon and tripe in the spicy sauce for an appetizer. Let me tell you, this new szechuan menu, although it is limited, is very authentic. The spiciness numbs the mouth, which is how real szechuan cuisine should be. For an entree from the szechuan menu, we had the popular szechuan cuisine of water boiled fish, or fish fillet on top of a bed of vegetables and marinated in a very hot and spicy sauce that smothers the items to make the perfect combination. For people who love extremely spicy food, everyone must try this new szechuan menu for it may be the best in maryland, better then szechuan pavilion in rockville in my opinion. Overall, we had a great experience at red pearl and would gladly go again, they are off to a great start and hopefully more sucess to come.

theminx said...

Some of your anonymous comments sound a little *too* enthusiastic, if you know what I mean. :) But I'm excited that they're planning on serving dim sum in the future, as we went to Jesse Wong's for dim sum almost exclusively. Asian Court is really good though.

As for the American public not being ready for authentic food...that's why crap like PF Chang's is allowed to proliferate. Down with bad Chinese and up with authentic!

HowChow said...

@theminx -- I was having the same worries. June 25 looks legit. The string before it edges towards the look of a single writer.