Last night we went to Red Pearl Kitchen for our second visit. The last time we went was on a Friday night, we just wandered in after happy hour and were seated immediately - even with a large group.
This time they were so busy that even though we had a reservation for six, they tried to seat us at two tables for two pushed together, basically a table for four. That really doesn't work there, because you eat family style and all of the food sits out on the table. Plus, who wants to sit on the seam of two tables?? Luckily they found us another table - so we got that straightened out.
The atmosphere in there was a little hectic and VERY loud - they were playing techno music and it was wall to wall packed with a very young and "sceney" crowd. We all agreed that it was a little too much of a zoo - more like a club than a restaurant - and I was kind of afraid that the food and/or the service might suffer for it. Luckily it didn't. We ordered TONS of food, way too much even for six people - and two bottles of wine, and our bill was still only $60. per person.
Here are the dishes we ordered:
Crab and Shrimp Spring Rolls (two orders)
Pineapple Beef Satay
Strawberry Cinnamon Ribs
Red Curry Kobe Beef Hot Pot
Short Rib, Pumpkin and Banana Curry Hot Pot
Ginger Chicken Potstickers
Shrimp, Garlic and Bacon Fried Rice
Black Pepper Caramel Shrimp
Black Noodle with Beef
Shaking Kobe Beef
Udon with Bacon, Egg and Smoky Miso
My favorite dishes, far and away, were the hot pots. Both were rich and unusual. They were delivered to the table in little cast iron pots, with a ladle, bowls and spoons for self service. There was easily enough in each one that we were all able to try them. The other favorites were the Pineapple Beef Satay - which sounded a little boring, but was delicious with a really good chargrilled flavor and tender meat.
We didn't care much for the ribs, the potstickers or the cashew chicken. The chicken was way too sweet, the potstickers were a bit too rubbery, and the ribs were just plain strange.
The big hits were the Black Noodle with beef, the spring rolls and calamari (which were like candy), the udon (with large pieces of pork belly) and the kobe beef. I'm on the fence about the shrimp, because we liked them much better on the first visit.
We also had really good service, from our server and the sommelier - who made a fantastic recommendation for a Chandon Pinot Meunier (did I spell that right?) that was good with the food. The bottles were about $50. apiece.
I also had a Jade Mistress (or two) - it's an improbable combination of peppery vodka, sweet and sour, apple and basil, sort of sweet and spicy. I usually don't like "house cocktail"-type concoctions - but this one I love.
We were so full that we didn't have room for dessert, but last time we had the Andagi with coconut ice cream, which was delicious. I saw them serving quite a few desserts last night, and they did look good.
Its not exactly "fine dining" and the atmosphere was a little crazy - but it was tasty and affordable - especially for a big group. They also do takeout, and have some special deals on their website at www.redpearlkitchen.com.