So I had a little birthday dinner for 25 people at Red Corner Asia this past weekend. (This place was chosen based on recommendations from Chowpatty and others, and I think it was definitely the right spot thank you folks)
It was my birthday: I ordered everything. The group consisted of probably about 1/3 strict vegetarians + another group of about 2 or 3 fishetarians. ( My god am I glad I have no dietary restrictions so I can avoid giving myself awkward monikers like that.) We all BYOBd. The total was $12 for food per person including tip. (I didnt look to see if there was a corkage charge, but I imagine no since that would have been hard to calclaute with multiple bottles of wine and at least 6 six-packs)
First thing: the place is beautiful. I seem to recall some ambivalence about the interior here, but I found the light especially nice and soft and the chairs, tables, plants, and general accoutrements around the room relaxing and pretty. They had given us a long stretch of tables on the right side of the restaurant with chairs on one side and nice cushy booth backing on the other.
The food: with so many dishes and the opportunities for so many flavors and combinations, this meal was a carnival for the mouth. While I didnt get a chance to interrogate each of my friends individually about how they felt, the general atmosphere of you gotta get some of this plate-passing and re-ordering, etc. implied a high level of pleasure from all.
My favorite dishes: spicy coconut soup with soft tofu and was one: so well-balanced with the thinness of the liquid and the charmingly soft tofu that the bold flavors could really shine. Just a wonderful combination of texture, flavor and layering.
2nd favorite: black pepper French beef. This was served on one of those sizzling plates and it was little chunks of bright red beef perfectly cooked and studded with black pepper and tiny pieces of garlic. Was also covered in a nice slightly sweet goo that was delicious to suck on and feel in your mouth as you chewed and got into the flavor of the beef.
Other highlights: tri-flavored fish and ginger fish. First to know here: I have never met a ginger fish I didnt like. I thought this one was great. Other people at the table really flipped over it and it got many favorite dish votes, many commenting one the joy of intense ginger flavor. I got the dish passed to me relatively late so I may have missed its prime chewing time. The tri-flavored fish was delicious and another favorite of many, though with so many plates flying and this dish arriving rather late I didnt fully/ soberly contemplate what the three flavors were beyond yummy. Note: this dish is served with fish cut in half and standing on its two sides as if they were legs, head up in the middle, just in case that would affect your enjoyment.
Gang Sam shrimp soup, spicy, was an excellent dish with lots of powerfully flavored veggies that absorbed all the red heat of the broth. Some people drank the broth alone when the solid pieces were gone and were mucho pleased with the pure funk of liquid heat.
Duck supreme was sweet and crispy and a nice thing to have on the plate to juxtapose with so many of the other hot flavors.
Only the dregs of the RCA noodles got to me, but they were a great texture addition and made me think I should have ordered a couple more noodle dishes. Served with ground meats I believe, though I didnt specify this when I ordered them. Good to lap up soft wide noodles and pieces of relatively mild meat when all the sauces and flavors on the plate are beginning to form complex chain reactions of flavor.
Spicy clam was very good even though it didnt stand out from its cohorts.
More dishes that were great: papaya salad, Chinese broccoli, big plate of eggplant, spicy green beans.
Dishes that I didnt try but was told were fabulous: pad thai (I just dont care about this dish, but for at least one it was her new favorite pad thai in town. I cant remember the name o this salad but that one that comes with lettuce and tomatoes and slices of boiled egg and crispy noddles and peanut sauce (salad kaek?) this is another dish I ordered for others and it went down well, but I had no interest in it.
Grilled pork didnt make it to me, but inspired smiles on others; likewise another spicy beef dish I cant remember but was told was amazing afterwards by one party.
Yellow curry with deep fried tofu also got kudos, especially for the curry.
Deep fried tofu on a plate with dipping sauce was not one of my favorites, but everyone ate it and liked the sauce. (I made a mistake ordering it because I thought it was going to have the sauce already on it and it would be a little wet, more like age dashi. I was mistaken.)
Also had the volcano chicken, which was pretty good, for chicken. I ordered more for the visuality of it, though again some people said this was just unbelievable. Personally, an unbelievable chicken dish is very hard to come by in my book, and I pretty much never order it in asian or Mexican or south american restaurants.
Tried to get the grilled squid but they were out of it, likewise for the fish cakes.
Its quite possible there might have been one or two more, but thats what I remember off the top of my head.
Must note: the service was impeccable. I mean, we had two folks bringing us dishes, and one of them was taking new food orders from me at regular intervals, and also asking where each plate that was brought out should go, simultaneously fielding requests for wine glasses, beer mugs, dish removals, chopsticks, new napkins, water etc. from a table full of hungry chowing drinking people. The waitstaff was outstanding.
An excellent meal, amazing value again, $12 per person folks in a gorgeous room. A+ for being able to accommodate the less adventurous, excite the more adventurous, satisfy the dietarily restricted and overwhelm the omnivore.