Just a few weeks after its opening, I was invited to sample Red Pearl Kitchen, the Hollywood outpost of the San Diego and Huntington Beach pan-Asian spots owned by Tim and Liza Goodell. The Goodells formerly owned Meson G in the same spot, which had a knockout orange and brown modern design. But the upscale small plates spot never really found its audience, as we say in the business, so they changed the concept to a Red Pearl Kitchen. The Pearl has some killer cocktails, dim sum and other pu pu type items, tour-of-Asia dishes like shaking beef, mee goreng and General Tso's tofu as well as a nice Asian-inflected dessert menu.
Matt had a potent ginger mint julep and I had a giant Singha beer, which I powered through as we tasted tuna tartare on eggplant tempura (pictured), yummy salt and pepper shrimp, shaking beef and an more unusual bowl of udon with bacon and egg. The kitchen has a good hand with the fryer -- the salt and pepper shrimp were our favorite dish -- although the chefs have obviously been instructed not to scare anyone with the spice levels. I've become a big fan of Far Eastern flavors in desserts, and I enjoyed the subtly-flavored yuzu tapioca triangle paired with lychee sorbet, while Kathy loved her cardamom pot de creme. The room has been redone with a translucent red screen in front of the formerly open kitchen and lots of big lanterns, along with a new Chinese red color scheme.
Red Pearl Kitchen isn't trying to be an authentic San Gabriel-valley style Asian restaurant, but it's a lively scene with well-priced, tasty food and a good-looking lounge, just the right place to meet up with friends for cocktails and aps or desserts.
Red Pearl Asia