Red Corner seeks to carve out niche in crowded market

February 12, 2013

By David Hayes

Red Corner, the newest Chinese restaurant in town, faces an uphill battle trying to wrangle its way into a small dining market already saturated with established Asian eateries.

With so many other Chinese restaurants with their own loyal clientele, it takes something special to pry them away to build up your own base of regulars. Red Corner might not pull it off.


If you go

Red Corner Chinese Restaurant

  • 1025 N.W. Gilman Blvd.
  • 391-9888
  • 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 11:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, 11:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday
  • Appetizers: $4.95 to $13.95; soups: $1.95 to $12.95; entrées: $9.95 to $16.95

Red Corner offers up Szechuan cuisine inside a hole-in-the-wall diner next to Gold’s Gym. While dining with a couple of friends, nothing we had was bad, but just nothing we ate was particularly memorable either.

First, you could do no better looking for a deal, as all meals on the lunch menu are $7.95 or less. Offered the standard choice between egg flower and hot and sour soups, each featured perfectly fine broths, if not a little thicker than usual.

From a choice of 16 entrées, we ordered the staples of General Tso’s chicken and Mongolian beef and, for a change of pace, the stir-fried fish.

The fish was flakey and accompanied by a bevy of vegetables sautéed in a sauce that married the flavors into an enjoyable dish.

The General Tso’s sauce was the star, packing a punch to the palate. Albeit a jab more than a roundhouse, it came up short of the three-star heat I’d ordered. Also, a pleasant surprise was that the chicken was not surrounded by an overabundance of breading. Of interesting note, the chicken had a texture more akin to fish, which didn’t necessarily detract from the flavor, but did give the feeling something was off with each bite.

The Mongolian beef also fell short of a spicy three stars that should have left the tastebuds tingling. However, it was enjoyable enough that each and every bite was devoured.

Where the lunch menu took a full misstep was the side salad. Not a traditional accompanying side dish to Chinese cuisine, this salad was barely more than iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise. The owners would do well to emulate the side salad that typically comes with an order of teriyaki.

Red Corner does have two things going for it — it proudly offers delivery, where not all Chinese restaurants in town do so, and its dinner menu is vast, inviting return trips to discover new and exciting flavors.

Red Corner does prepare a fine plate of Chinese food, it just doesn’t necessarily do it better than anyone else.

Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.

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