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Red Pearl Kitchen on Melrose

Most of the food in this place is at least above average. Service and the staff have a long way to go. Lots of people tripping over themselves, tentative, confused and disorganized, though the manager seems great, always wandering around checking on everyone.

We started with a bunch of small plates. Asked not to have more than two come at one. All came at once. Then, we shared Meyer's Lemon Chicken with shrimp, bacon & garlic friend rice, which we wanted together. A different person always brought the food than our waitres; he came with the chicken and asked, gee, didn't we want some rice with that. Repeated our order for the fried rice and pick at the chicken for 5, 10 minutes...still no rice. Finally, the friendly roving manager came by, dashed to the kitchen and came back with the rice.

The Kobe pineapple satay is some of the best beef I have ever had in my life--an amazing dish. Crab/pork spring rolls--ordinary at best. Chicken potstickers--wow!! Har gow (shrimp dumplings on the menu) very good. Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus--also wow!

Warning: although mild by Thai standards, most of the dishes here are hot by my taste.

Cocktails, as noted earlier, all seem to be $11.

The place is dark and the menus are covered by orange plexiglass, a combination that makes them very hard to read.

The music is LOUD.

Bottom line: mostly above average, faily spicy Asian food in a noisy, dark room with lots of servers but poor service--they just haven't seemed to find their rhythm yet. Bill for two with two glasses of wine and no dessert: $90 with tax and tip.

If you go, whatever else you do, get the Pineapple Kobe Beef Satay Skewer ($9).

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  1. I know this is a Melrose Ave "event" place, but when we have ThaiTown and the SGV, why in all that is houndly would I want to subject myself to this?

    2 Replies
      1. re: SwissMiss

        Lots of Thai restaurants in Thai Town have gone through a period of ownership and chefs changes. I have watched the quality of food deviates from the good old days. Surprisingly the new managements manage to keep the service at the same level of next to none. Many good chefs from Thai Town now work for better salary and more respect in these new restaurants. Same goes with many restaurants in SGV.

      2. Well, you shouldn't go there if your main criteria is cheap food or authentic food or all the other justifiable houndly criteria. But sometimes people, even Chowhounds in fact, need a convenient, stylish spot to meet friends for a nice cocktail and a plate of satay. In that case it might fill the bill. People come to this board looking for all types of experiences, and value and authenticity are not the only ones.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chowpatty

          If an illegible menu and deafening music are "convenient and stylish", then I'll stick with out-of-the-way and boring, thanks all the same.

        2. Well said (er, written), Chowpatty!

          1. Place was pretty good - prices were right, 85% of dishes were tasty and the service was actually decent

            I would return

            1. certainly can't find Red Pearl Kitchen's
              fitting dessert finale: Kafir Lime Tapioca
              elsewhere, so very tasty.
              Corkage is reasonable too.

              1. Girlfriends and I had a great time noshing on all sorts of different things. I would definitely go back for the fantastic beer and finger-type foods. My favorite was the chicken dumplings. Vegetarian fried rice was only so-so at best. Pork Shu Mai, short ribs and chicken curry satay were all tasty.
                Talk about bad service though - when our waitress returned with our drink order she told us that she was about to get really busy and wouldn't have time for us if we didn't place our order right then. Huh?! Even if that is the absolute truth, you never tell your customers that you don't have time for them! We all had a big laugh at that after she walked away.

                Fun place and atmosphere though. I'd love to go and play pool in one of their back rooms.

                1. These comments are all pretty accurate, in my opinion. The service was so bad we had to call the manager over--twice. (The good news: he was omnipresent and handled our problems well. The bad news: that didn't prevent the long lapses from reoccuring.) Yes, the chicken dumplings are excellent and most of the food was at least tasty, some of it much better than that. We had the non-vegetarian fried rice and it was the worst dish we tried.

                  The orange, plexiglass-covered menu resisted reading. Try a flashight? No good--the plexiglass reflects it. And, yes, plan on shouting through your meal.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: globalgourmet

                    I ate there once, sitting at the bar, and since it was mostly just the bartender and me, the service was fine. In fact, the mussaman curry short ribs with pumpkin that I had was delicious.

                    But at this point, I won't eat there again: I went back a few weeks later to pick up some takeout, and when I got home, I realized that they had charged me a $2.00 takeout fee. While that in itself is ridiculous, the fact that nowhere on their takeout menu do they tell you about this fee, nor do they advise you of it on the phone, is extremely dubious, perhaps not even legal. Has anyone else had this experience with them?