Thursday, November 09, 2006

Foodventure #12: Red Pearl Kitchen (Huntington Beach)

Alas, the reason why I didn't eat more at Duke's from my last mini-foodventure was because I ate at Red Pearl Kitchen instead - though now that I've been here I wish I stayed at Duke's the whole meal through.

Red Pearl Kitchen is a Pan-Asian-Pacific-Fusion (or something like that) restaurant started up by the owners of the now-closed Meson G., with ambitions of spreading this nationwide. So far they have only three locations: this one in Huntington Beach, one in San Diego and Hollywood (all with slightly different menus.)

The Hollywood one seems to be packed a lot, so I opted to go to the one in Huntington Beach.

The place was smaller than I thought and I really don't know what to make of the red and black interior - definitely not authentic Chinese decor, yet I thought it looked too old-world Asian to be a hip fusion restaurant (which looks especially out-of-place in the pretty casual and relaxed downtown Huntington Beach neighborhood.)

My dining companion and I started off with two cocktails with kooky Pan-Asian names like Indofusion-- served in interesting stemless martini glasses. The drinks themselves were unimpressive at best - tart, fruity alcohols but w/o the sweetness to balance it out, leaving a kind of weird aftertaste. Oh well - hopefully the food is better.

I had the special of the day salmon in a red curry sauce with vermcelli salad on the side. The portion was kinda small, especially given its price tag, the salmon is slightly larger than a deck of cards (and its size compared to the baby corn should be some sort of indicator.) It tasted pretty good, the red curry was just spicy enough for me (though I'm sure it's a toned down version from real red curries,) and the salmon cooked just right - but nothing to write home about.

My friend had the "Shaking" Kobe beef with onion & tomatoes. The dish tasted good - nice beefy pieces of meat mingling with grape tomatoes and sauteed onions in a savory sauce - but doesn't strike me as something that I couldn't have gotten at a Chinese place or Hong Kong style cafe (for much less.) Of course, what makes this feeling even more of a rip was charging for white rice. Also I'm pretty sure that's not Kobe beef (or even Wagyu a.k.a. "Kobe-style".)

The money spent for this affair:
Cocktails: ~ $7.50 each x 2 = $15
Beef: $15
Salmon: $18

Bowl of Rice: $1
Pre tax & tip total: $49

Ambience: 2.5/5 (Definitely an identity crisis going on in there, and out-of-place amongst the other downtown Huntington Beach eats and shops)

Value: 1/5 (Definitely overpriced!)
Service: 7/10 (Nothing much to say, for better or for worse)
Food: 11/20 (Overall good, but it's nothing impressive - there are better Pan-Asian to be had, and their cocktails are weird tasting ~ not in a good way...)
Total: 21.5/40 (fairly hard-pressed for me to return; even to their other branches with their different menus)

Other Notes:
- Street parking is available, but the meters are comparatively pricey & spaces are hard to find (it is, afterall, only blocks away from the beach) - public parking lot is available at $1/30 minutes ($9 max).
- As noted above, only blocks away form the beach & in middle of the beach shopping district.

I honestly wish I could say better about this place, especially given the positive buzz the Hollywood branch has received*, but alas - I only wished I spent that time at Dukes for another round of drinks and good & cheap eats.

Red Pearl Kitchen
412 Walnut Ave
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
(714) 969-0224

*To give the new Hollywood branch some credit - their menu definitely has more interesting offerings than the one in H.B. ~ but still not something I'm eager to check out now.


Chubbypanda said...

That place makes me sad.

- Chubbypanda


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