Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tea-Smoked Duck At Red Pearl In Columbia

The beauty of friends is that you can split a meal that might be too much for you alone.

Red Pearl in Columbia has become one of our favorite places, and I was jazzed by Todd Kliman's review in the Washingtonian because he highlighted new dishes, including a tea-smoked duck that he described as "rich and juicy as the best spare ribs."

Problem:  Mrs. HowChow doesn't eat duck.

Solution: Dinner with the '34 Act Gourmet and his wife.  As a foursome, we ordered a table of food headlined by that tea-smoked duck.  I have to admit that I didn't realize that neither woman liked duck until I tried to offer pieces around.

It became a two-man job.  The bone-in meat is rich and flavorful on its own, but set against a layer of fat and a crispy skin.  You can see Red Pearl's ambition in the way that they turned out such an unusual dish.  The meat was firm but still moist.  Slightly-sweet steamed buns peeled open so that we tucked meat inside and ate them as sandwiches.  I couldn't eat a plate on my own, but we dented the pile as a team -- and it made perfectly fine leftovers as well.

Check out Kliman's review, which mentions a lobster dish and a hot pot that sound spectacular.  Red Pearl serves up all the classics of an American Chinese restaurant, but it pushes into dishes that are more unusual, more nuanced, more exciting.  With my favorite Grace Garden, these are Chinese kitchens competing with the best food around.

Red Pearl's dim sum has become our go-to spot to take houseguests for brunch.  It's great food -- and easy to please everyone because you can order an array of items.  Roast duck appears on the carts, but it was not the same tea-smoked dish.  Okay, but I prefer the roast pork and the dumplings.


theminx said...

I had the tea smoked duck on Saturday - color me disappointed. The meat was tough and hard to wrestle off the bone, there was too much fat, and the skin was more flabby than crisp. Back to GG for me. :)

Mirka said...

I was really looking forward to tea smoked duck, I love duck.
My tea smoked duck at Red Pearl was too salty, had just couple of pieces with crisp skin, rest the meat had skin thick with fat, very disappointing.
Our other orders Beef Kung Pao and fried short ribs were just ok.
We did not try Dim sum.