Cheap Eats 2011: Red Pearl

Not everything at this lakefront charmer, a top destination for Chinese cooking in the area, falls within the Cheap Eats budget–you’ll have to steer clear of the pepper-salted lobster, among other delicacies. But there are loads of affordable examples of chef/owner David Wong’s wok work, beginning with cooked-to-order dim sum: The shrimp dumplings and golden-hued pork buns are benchmarks for the area. Cantonese hot pots and casseroles are enough for three or four.

A half portion of tea-smoked duck, a showpiece dish, costs $18.95 but makes an ideal share–stuff the slices of crisp-skinned meat into steamed buns for a marvelous sandwich. Wong is equally adept with his Szechuan dishes, imbuing them with both pungency and piquancy–the dry-fried, cumin-spiced lamb and chewy dan-dan noodles in smoky chili oil are textbook perfect.

Also good: Eggplant stuffed with shrimp paste; shrimp in rice-noodle crepes; diced chicken with chilies; fried-flounder casserole with tofu and mushrooms.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Get Our “Brunches This Weekend” Newsletter

The best breakfasts and brunches to try every weekend, plus our most popular food stories of the week.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.