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Aug 19, 2009 09:34 AM

Birmingham: Red Pearl update

The Red Pearl restaurant in Homewood seems to be responding to the competition from Hoover newcomer Chen's Authentic Chinese Cuisine. (The Chens, coincidentially, once ran Red Pearl).
Red Pearl has greatly expanded its menu, adding more authentic Chinese dishes and taking advantage of the fresh produce, pork , duck and especially seafood they sell in the adjoining market.
A few items you may recognize from Chen's -- cold plates of beef flank and beef tender, crispy baby fish with peanuts. But they've also added seafood dishes from the live red snapper, tilapia and dungeness crab the merket sells, some interesting pork dishes and various fried rice cakes (the one with Manila clams is my next order there).
If you want to get exotic, they have stir-fries with conch, snail, the aforementioned Manlia clams -- all from the live shellfish they sell in the market.
This is the kind of menu that calls for a bunch of people to go in, order like crazy and pass them around.
For those who haven't been, it's on West Valley Avenue, on a hill to the left as you drive from Green Springs. The restuarant is closed on Mondays.

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  1. I'm down for a groupd outing to Chen's sometime in the next couple of weeks. I was there about 2 weeks ago and no reference to all of those new items. Did they expand the regular menu or was this an additional menu?

    11 Replies
    1. re: Dax

      I, too, would love a group outting at Chen's sometime soon (I'll be out of town the first week in September). How about it 'Hounds? Msviolatordm, G200, birminghamvisitor, bryantuga, food fanatic -- y'all up for it?
      As for the new menu items, Dax, look for them on the placard on the tables. They've added even more recently, so it's now about 20 new dishes. Some are routine -- moo goo gai pan -- some are not, like the basil clams.
      Today I had one of the newest items, shredded pork with garlic sauce. It's a very colorful dish that touches on all of the five flavors in Chinese cooking. It's got cubed jicama for crunch, sweet red bell peppers, green onions and red pepper flakes in addition to the flavorful pork.
      The steamed fish with willowy shreds the table next to me got looked like a great order for our group meal.

      1. re: Dax

        Folks, we're all for meetups with your fellow hounds. However, we ask that you take your planning logistics offline. Please see our guidelines for such meetups, and start a new topic when the organizer comes up with a date. Thanks!

        1. re: The Chowhound Team

          We're a bunch of strangers who don't really have the means to do this planning offline. We find common ground and interests on forums like this. That is one strange policy.

          1. re: Big Daddy

            Many hounds around the world have held successful chowdowns without the nitty-gritty of who is or isn't interested in attending bogging down their local board. All it takes is one person to step up and post an email address -- most people use a gmail or other web-based address for this, rather than their main email address, just to keep the spam down -- to get the ball rolling.

            If you want more advice on how to plan a chowdown, please do start a new thread over on the Site Talk board -- lots of people will be glad to offer tips and advice on getting started.

            1. re: bryantuga

              So, I heard the end result group was small, but how was the food? What did you guys get to try? Anything to report?

              1. re: Jannae

                Sorry we haven't posted anything yet.
                We caught them on a night when they were out of some of their live seafood, like eel and conch. But we did enjoygiant clam with lillybuds, which had a light, slightly garlicky white sauce.
                Among my favorites were the cold beef tendon appetizer (the flavor of the tender tendons and the sesame oil/chili marinade has haunted me all week) and the beef with jalapenos, which not only included halved jalapenos, but also some incendiary whole bird chilies.
                Another great discovery was the sauteed sweet pea leaves, which may become a standard of mine order for family style dining. The last dish we sampled was the pork and garlic sauce, which was very flavorful but not as spicy as the menu indicated.
                $15 each and a tip later, we were gone.

                1. re: Big Daddy

                  Thanks for the notes, BD. The responsibility of the write-up actually belonged to me, since I was the last to arrive, but between work and football, I fell down on my duties.

                  I also enjoyed my meal. My favorite dish was the cold spicy beef tender [sic]. Razor-thin slivers of soft tendon in a wonderfully light and flavorful sauce, as BD described. It's going to be hard not to order that every time.

                  It was really a lot of fun and I wish more folks could have been there. We should try to meet up at another location sometime in the near future. If anyone has suggestions, feel free to post to the google group.

                    1. re: Big Daddy

                      Thanks for the update. The hubby and I haven't had a chance to swing by Red Pearl yet, we're hoping to get by there in the next few weeks. The chatter about the place here has my interest level way up, and I can't wait to go check them out.

                      1. re: Jannae

                        Last night I tried the fried pork in garlic soy sauce and something I discovered at the Chowdown we had there: sauteed sweet pea leaves.
                        The pork dish was pure umami. Each bite was a bit of heaven. Pork chunks are deep-fried, then stir-fried with the garlic soy sauce (the key to the flavor) and green onions.
                        Love those sweet pea leaves, too. And the portion is generous enough to feed 4-5 as a side dish (or one hungry big guy for dinner with enough left over for a good lunch).