100 Best Restaurants 2012: Red Pearl

Restaurant Arrivals We’re Most Excited About


If the prospect of driving to Columbia for Chinese food doesn’t appeal to you, focus on the specifics: a lobster plucked from the tank and flash-fried with chilies, garlic, and ginger; the best tea-smoked duck we’ve found; superlative dim sum that’s cooked to order.

The dining room departs from the family-restaurant model–the open space overlooking Lake Kittamaqundi calls to mind the sort of spot you find in the Chinese-rich communities of San Francisco. Another departure: What the mostly English-speaking staff lacks in speed and efficiency, it makes up for with its ability to engage the diner.

It’s on the plate, though, that Red Pearl distinguishes itself, with greaseless stir-fries, tight saucing, and delicate spicing.

What to get: Har gow (shrimp dumplings); baked pork buns; eggplant with shrimp paste; dan-dannoodles; cumin lamb; braised flounder; chicken with chilies.

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Moderate.

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.