Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Red Pearl's Sichuan Menu - Already Translated

Another door has opened for people who want to try authentic Chinese food in Howard County -- Red Pearl's Sichuan menu is on the Web thanks to an email from Jeff.

Red Pearl opened last month in the Columbia lakefront spot between Sushi Sono and Clyde's.  I haven't been yet, but people have been leaving some reviews on a prior post.  Jeff's party filled a table with dishes, including some items off the Sichuan menu.  He recommended some American-style items like General Tso's, along with some others including chow foon noodles, cho san shein (sp?).

Jeff also emailed that the Red Pearl folks talked about opening an outdoor section.  They were apparently waiting for a landlord to approve planters.  Great view!

When I get to Red Pearl, I would love any recommendations.  For now, I'm hyped up on an anoymous comment that recommends a smoked duck and fish.
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.
(Update: If you want real Sichuan food, I suggest that you emphasize that to your waiter.  Emphasize that you like spicy food.  Maybe even tell the manager.  I suggest this at any Chinese restaurant because restaurant owners appear wary about serving serve authentic food and having Americans complain.  For example, we haven't eaten Chinese food in Howard County in more than a year because Hunan Legend served us glop -- even though I know through people like Warthog that the same kitchen serves terrific food.  There are lots of positive comments about Red Peal (including some so positive that I worry if they're real), but I'm also getting private emails from people who got Americanized, not-so-spicy dishes.  They're politely trying to figure out how to get the good stuff.  My only advice: Be assertive.  I'd love any other techniques people have tried.)

Red Pearl gives the menu to everyone.  But I posted a copy of the Red Pearl's Sichuan menu on the Don Rockwell site because Blogger doesn't let me attach PDFs.  Don Rockwell is a great place to check out DC restaurants and food.  He is trying for Baltimore and Howard County, but it's tough to reach critical mass.

(Update II: Thanks for the photo Kyle.  Everyone: I love cell phone photos if you're sending me emails about a place.  Great to post.)

I'm trying to check back on some Chinese places.  For now, I can vouch for the authentic menus at Hunan Taste in Catonsville and Grace Garden in Odenton.  People swear by the Chinest menu -- including Malaysian items -- at Hunan Legend in Columbia.  You can read a bunch of posts and detailed comments about Hunan Legend's Chinese menu, but I had to admit that my first meal there was so bad that I am still working on coaxing the team for another visit.  I want to try the Hunan Legend, Red Pearl, and Noodles Corner, which apparently has Taiwanese dishes.


Penny said...

I was there last night. From the Sichuan menu, we had the jellyfish (very good), and the lamb (amazing! and I'm wary of lamb, but it was a surprise--crunchy, a really pleasant spicy, savory, and the tiniest bit of sweet). I'm very glad this place opened in Columbia.

theminx said...

We're going on the 11th, and I'm taking notes as to what we should order. So far, the duck, the lamb, the jellyfish....

little audrey said...

I really hate this having to say the secret password, know the secret handshake, and/or bear the Chowhound flag and have camera phone in hand in order to get the "good stuff". Does this ever occur in non-Asian restaurants? I get terrific food at R&R without having to be hispanic, for instance.

Hunan Legend is close to my house, so they're fine for a quick kung-pao fix. But I've never tried their secret menu, and won't if we have to jump through hoops and somehow prove our worthiness. We went to Hunan Taste 3 times and got *expensive* glop each time. Grace Garden still rules as the place we can rely on for dishes prepared with care and flavor, no matter when you go or the ethnicity of whoever calls it in. If Red Pearl can't offer the same, I'm staying away.

HowChow said...

@ LIttle Audrey -- I share the frustration, and I agree that it is less fun when you have to convince people to serve you good food.

I do think that Chinese restaurants have a special challenge though because Americans are so used to a cuisine that is so different from many authentic dishes.

You're right that Grace Garden is wonderful because it's so low-key. I have always felt welcomed, and I always ordered something new. Hunan Taste was delicious on our visits, but I have heard of mixed results from people who either got glop or felt like they got the run-around when they asked questions.

Anonymous said...

If you want really good Chinese food in HoCo, first ask for "the Chinese menu". If the place doesn't have one, and you don't see authentic dishes on the main menu, you're out of luck.

There's very good stews, soups and noodle dishes at Noodles Corner, next to Hanamura off of Dobbin Road. Order off the Chinese menu and try the seafood or beef hot pot on your first outing. Wonderful food there.

Looking forward to trying Red Pearl.

--David P

Jade's Mama said...

I second the recommendation for Noodles Corner. Ate there tonight, making this my third visit. The prices are really affordable, portions are big, and the taste is authentic. Just request the Chinese menu in addition to the standard menu. Both have authentic Asian dishes.

It's been great for my vegetarian friends, who can pretty much request the protein in any noodle dish be replaced with tofu and vegetables. They even did it for the mapo tofu, which traditionally has ground pork in it.

I offer one note of caution. The service at times needs improvement; however, as a frequent patron of authentic Chinese restaurants, I assume a lower bar has been set for customer service. I've really enjoyed interacting with the older male waiter, who is friendly and attentive. He is also supportive of my Chinglish. :-) The hostess, who might have been a visiting help to the restaurant given her unfamiliarity with the duties of a hostess, seemed off her game in terms of knowing that each patron should have a standard menu and that asking for chopsticks doesn't mean taking away all the silverware. :-)

Overall, I REALLY recommend the place. The atmosphere is simple, casual, and aesthetically pleasing. They have cute artwork up and hot tea (jasmine) comes in a very nice carved metal pot (maybe iron?) on a wooden trivet.

In terms of Red Pearl, we're talking with one of owners/managers about Hong Kong - style cuisine as well. According to her, the main chef/co-owner is from Hong Kong, while the other big chef specializes in Sichuan cooking. So, their traditional Chinese menu might be expanding. Also, I saw a sign the other day stating that dim sum was coming in August. I assume it will be primarily Southern style dim sum (like Asian Court, Oriental East, New Fortune) and not Northern like A&J's, but it would be good to see the menu, when it comes out.

little audrey said...

Another Noodles Corner fan here. That's another place I really should visit more often - maybe because of the name, they don't usually show up on the "good Chinese in Howard" radar. My favorite dish is the asian chili wrap with cucumber relish (what a fantastic taste combo!) but I really haven't been disappointed with anything I've gotten there.

ColumbiaJ said...

Went to Red Pearl for the 1st time on Friday night. Place wasn't busy at all, which worried me at first. Atmosphere-wise, it's a bit upscale (for Chinese food) with white table clothes, soft music, nice decor. Had the potstickers w/ Hot Oil and Flounder w/ soft tofu off the authentic menu, and Eggplant Chicken on the regular menu. Being Chinese myself, I can handle some heat, and let me tell you, the 1st 2 items packed some punch (in a painfully good way). They are quite liberal with the chili oil. The wife liked the Eggplant Chicken - I noticed they use the Chinese eggplant which I like. The Authentic Menu is small, hopefully they will add some Cantonese dishes when they also add the Dim Sum (btw - i didn't have to ask for the Sichuan menu, they just gave it to us). Overall, nice addition to Columbia scene.