>>For a slideshow of more pictures of Red Pearl, click here.
Northern Rockville has established itself as the bustling hub of Chinese cooking in the area, with a fascinating range of noodle houses, fast-food joints, banquet-style restaurants, and even bakeries. But one of the most exciting Chinese restaurants to emerge in the past few years isn’t a clamorous hole in the wall crammed into one of the innumerable strip malls along Rockville Pike. It’s Red Pearl, in Columbia, perched along the edge of tranquil Lake Kittamaqundi, and the dining room, presided over by a friendly, accessible staff, is a model of orderly calm. I reviewed it in the March issue.
The setting is alluring, but the best reason to make the trip north is the cooking. The chef and owner, David Wong, a Rockville native, has assembled a broad, multipurpose menu; the relevant pages are in the front (dim sum) and back (Cantonese and Szechuan classics). The former, ordered à la carte at night—as opposed to from carts on the weekend—is stellar: delicately steamed shrimp dumplings, luscious roast-pork buns, and chewy dan-dan noodles with chili oil. Among the classics, you’ll find an array of casseroles and hot pots notable for their tight saucing and depth of flavor.
The highlight of my three recent visits was an off-menu suggestion by a server—a salt-and-pepper fried lobster fresh out of the tank. Glorious.
There’s nothing quite like it in northern Rockville—nor even, for that matter, at Wolfgang Puck’s three-star valentine to pan-Asian cooking, the Source, in downtown DC.
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