Friday, April 9, 2010

Red Pearl Returning Chinese Food To Lakeside

Apparently, a new Chinese restaurant called Red Pearl will open next to Sushi Sono in Columbia -- the lakeside spot that formerly held Jesse Wong's Hong Kong.

The sign says that the owners also own Far East in Rockville and Jade Billows in Potomac, according to Wai.  She said that she hasn't eaten at those restaurants, but online reviews suggest that the cuisine is more Americanized.  Wai is the hero who translated Hunan Legend's Chinese menu, and she is hoping that Red Pearl will broaden the authentic Chinese menus around here:
Hopefully, it will take a cue from surrounding authentic Hunan and Szechuan Chinese restaurants and take up the charge to represent authentic Southern Chinese cuisine in Howard County! I'm hoping this will be a great place for wedding banquets, particularly with that lovely scenery. If the owners of Red Pearl are reading this, cook authentic, awesome Southern Chinese cuisine and you'll already have a wedding banquet lined up for the next year. :-) 
Thanks also to bmorecupcake who put up the original comment about Red Pearl's sign.  Has anyone been to Far East or Jade Billows?  Any idea when it will open?  Any photos of the sign?

(Update: MJ2010 added the first comment below.  If you want to add more comments about Red Pearl, please add them to the post announcing the opening.)


Work in progress said...

I feel like this space is cursed somehow. Every other restaurant on the waterfront has fared well except for this one. Jesse Wongs, Sgt Peppers, etc. That said, more places to eat is always awesome news.

Kristi said...

I grew up in the Potomac/Rockville area and we’ve been eating at Far East at least once a month for the past 20+ years, ever since I was little. The manager knows my family since we eat there so often! It's a really nice restaurant, one that has more of the Asian feel from the decor. They have a huge wall to wall painting/mosaic in the dining area and a koi pond in the lobby. It's an older establishment, so it may not be the most impressive. They have several large tables that can accommodate 10+ people and the last time we were there on a Saturday night, it was packed.

At Far East, we always get the Chicken Szechuan and we always order 2, one spicy and one not spicy; the Shrimp with Lobster sauce and Fish with Black Bean sauce. We also get the double pan fried noodles w/ beef and Chinese broccoli-however, this seems to be a customized order since I’ve never seen it on the menu. But if you mention it to the waiters, most of them know what you’re talking about.

This is a restaurant where you can get the most Americanized dishes or the most authentic, but it will depend on your knowledge of Chinese dishes. Obviously if you go in and order the General Tso’s chicken or Orange chicken, it’s going to be Americanized. But choose one of the vegetable or seafood dishes, and you’re more likely to get a different sauce than you’re used to.

They also have a "secret" Chinese menu. It's a single page that is handed out as a separate menu. My grandmother is the only one who's ever ordered off of it. You’ll get more of the authentic dishes if you order one of the specials (which are usually listed on a stand in the lobby).

Another great restaurant is Paul Kee in Wheaton which, in my opinion, has the most authentic Chinese food. Their Soy Sauce chicken and Hong Kong style wonton soup are amazing. Most of the wait staff there don’t speak a lot of English, so be prepared!

**I’m third generation Chinese, so the names of the dishes may not be the best!

dzoey said...

Jade Billows is my parents neighborhood chinese restaurant. My parents order from there often, and the dishes they've had there are perfectly pleasant. Since it's my parents ordering, the dishes have been American-Chinese.

Personally, I don't have a problem with American-Chinese dishes, as long as they taste good.

dzoey said...

On a visit to my folks house, I ordered carryout from Jade Billows and had a chance to talk with the manager. He confirms that they are opening Red Pearl in Columbia and it will have the same menu as Jade Billows. He also showed me the Chinese menu and indicated that it would be available as well and the waiters could translate since there were no translations on the menu.

The food was good, though mildly spiced (at least to me, my parents thought the Szechuan Tofu was spicy). I'm used to Hunan and Szechuan restaurants and I think Jade Billows is Cantonese - which is what the Chinese restaurants were back when I was a kid.

MJ2010 said...

I went to the Red Pearl last night - on its opening day. The hostess explained that it was their first night open and the serving staff was young, so they might need a little bit of patience, but to let her know if I needed anything. As it turned out, everything was just fine. My young server was polite and attentive. The other servers were also young and energetic.

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 white tablecloths are topped with nice settings – an appetizer plate, a dinner plate, a cloth table napkin, and silverware.

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.”

Jasmine tea was suggested by my server, and it was flavorful and welcome, especially since I had come in from the rain.

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. In my 40 years of enjoying Chinese food, I have never found a palatable hot mustard until now. It had a solid, not overpowering, flavor and a nice sharp bite, but it wasn’t so strong and hot that it made me reach for the water glass. The sweet sauce was a very pleasant accent to the spring roll without the sticky candy-like, right-out-of-the-jar sweetness of other sauces I find most of the time.

Two ladies at the next table, who informed me that they dine in restaurants very frequently, had ordered the sweet and sour pork and General Tso’s chicken, two main staples of Americanized Chinese fare. They praised both highly and mentioned that the plates contained so much that they would definitely be bringing some home.

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. Their flavor was intense, and I don’t use that word frequently. They were succulent and perfect – in the top three that I’ve had in any restaurant around the country. I was able to eat half of them, and I looked forward to bringing them home for later.

I was asked how everything was by the hostess and by a young lady whom I learned was half of the husband-wife ownership team. She asked me to try the crab wontons, and although I was quite satisfied already, I agreed. I was glad that I did. Fried wontons, hand-wrapped around crabmeat combined with a bit of cream cheese and seasoning were accompanied by the two aforementioned condiments. I didn’t use either of them. The flavor of the crab was so good that I didn’t want to alter the taste one bit.

I was also asked how everything was by the second co-owner who introduced himself to me. He had come out of the kitchen where he had obviously been cooking, and he made it clear that he was striving for perfection despite its being their first night.

On the way out, I couldn’t help but notice another table where a large lobster had been served. That’s next on the menu when I return. Right after the Tea Smoked Duck.