By Leanna K. Potts
Red Palace Restaurant Review
2141 N. College Ave.
Mon- Sat 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday until 8 p.m
Here in Fayetteville, we are really lucky to have so many restaurant options. There are a number of Asian restaurants to choose from but, contrary to popular belief, not all Asian food is alike. Just like in the states, the region can make the difference.
About a year ago, Tin Nguyen opened the Red Palace, which serves both Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. There are a number of Vietnamese immigrants living in Northwest Arkansas and a few have opened Chinese restaurants, but very few actually serve Vietnamese food unless you drive to Fort Smith.
Through the grapevine, I heard about the Red Palace and their delicious Vietnamese Pho Bo. I have not had really good Pho since my friend Sahn returned to Vietnam. It is like an addiction. You add the fresh bean sprouts and basil or mint to suit your taste.
Some restaurants claim that a bowl of meat and noodles in a broth is Pho Bo, but it is not the way I remember having it. So, I was very pleased when I ordered my bowl at the Red Palace and it was served just the way I remember Sahn serving it with fresh bean sprouts, limes, jalapenos, onions, and fresh basil to be added at the table and topped with more hot sauce, if you choose.
The Pho at Red Dragon was truly delicious. The meat was tender and the broth was perfect. I ordered the flank and round steak combination ($6.25 for the small bowl). There are two sizes on the menu and when I queried P.K., our waiter, about the differences in sizes, he asked, “Are you really hungry or just okay hungry?” Thank goodness I said I was just ‘okay hungry!’ I still had a half bowl left after satiating myself. But, if you are really hungry, you can biggie size your Pho for just a dollar more and it would probably feed three to four people, unless you really are voraciously hungry. Pho is also available through the take-out window with the meat packed separately to be added when you get home so it does not overcook.
There are other Vietnamese offerings as well which includes Mi-Hu Tieu, a combination of barbequed pork, shrimp, ground pork, crab and squid, served with noodles, Bun or vermicelli noodles served with a choice of meat or seafood, and Com Tam or Broken Steamed Rice served with a choice of steamed, barbequed or shredded pork.
So, far, I have not tried anything else on the menu since I am stuck on the Pho and it seems many of the patrons that go there are, too, because there were a lot of people enjoying steaming bowls of savory beef and noodles with lots of fresh toppings.
But, the Red Palace also offers a large selection of Chinese dishes as well. The dish that caught my eye as it was being delivered to the table next to me that really looked and smelled enticing was the Seafood Pan Fried Noodles ($8.75). It was a stunning presentation with lots of colorful vegetables in a nest of crunchy browned chow mein noodles.
There menu features over 80 lunch and dinner choices that include a variety of Fried Rice, Lo Mein, Chow Mein, Pan Fried Noodles, Mei Fun, Egg Foo Young and Chop Suey combinations, and all offer your choice of meat, seafood or vegetarian style.
There is a large selection of chicken, pork, beef, seafood and vegetarian main dishes that range from $6.25 to 9.25. These include the standards that have become popular such as General Tso Chicken, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Szechuan Beef, Kung Pao Chicken, Pepper Steak and Seafood Delight.
There is also a nice selection of appetizers including Vietnamese Spring Rolls, which are nice and light for summer, Coconut Fantailed Shrimp and Vegetable or Pork Egg Roll. Appetizer prices range from $1 to $6.25 for the Combo Appetizer.
Lunch specials run $5.25 to $5.95 and all come with steamed or fried rice, choice of egg drop or hot and sour soup and an egg roll.
The restaurant also features Vietnamese coffee with or without condensed milk. Be prepared, this is good, but stout. All the items on the menu are available through the drive thru, which is really a nice convenience. Also, the Red Palace has a buy 10 get one free offer, so be sure to get a business card and have it punched each time you dine.