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Red Pearl Kitchen

This restaurant is no longer open! - Red Pearl Kitchen is serving up Pan-Asian cuisine set to a striking décor that includes a black-pebbled floor, vibrant red and gold walls, and a “Chef’s Table” located right in middle of the bustling kitchen! Located in the bustling Gaslamp District of downtown and boasting a delicious spread that includes entrees such as the Chili-Caramel Prawns with Long Beans and Shaking Kobe Beef with Papaya and Mint. Owners Tim and Liza Goodell have pulled out all of the stops to make their second location just as memorable as the original Huntington Beach hotspot.

Red Pearl Kitchen

The bustling excitement pulsing through downtown San Diego draws in people for various reasons, whether for business, leisure, entertainment or travel.  Agendas aside, those lucky people looking for exquisite fare understand downtown to be a dining dreamland; and within this dreamland, I’ve discovered Red Pearl Kitchen to truly be a personal paradise.  From a block away, I spotted the gold and red sign above an oversized Asian- inspired red chair and three women taking turns smiling for a camera with this larger than life prop. Stepping off the street and into the Pan-Asian dining destination, I felt as if I had entered a new world.

Lauren, an upbeat and friendly hostess greeted my guest and I and walked us down a ramp which wrapped around the left side of the restaurant, leading to the stunning full-service bar area. The awe-inspiring bar itself faces the main dining room, displaying four flat screen televisions, high walled shelves of bottles, decorative vases, and red lights.  From the ceiling hang large red and gold lamp shaded light fixtures as well as smaller black and gold bulb-shaped lights.  Vivid red walls, sheer white polka dotted strip curtains, small round tables and lounge seating immediately flashed into my mental picture.

Here we met General Manager, Kim Brissett and Executive Chef, Chad Cranford before my guest and I were led to our two-seat booth in the center of the main dining room.  At first sight I was blown away by the themed décor, elegant seating options and overall appeal to my senses. Each dining area has its own twist, while staying fluent to the color and textural themes throughout. To my left were dark lounge style tables with wall side bench seating and low backless stool seats on the other side.

Two private rooms exist on the same side of the restaurant. One allows up to 14 guests, encompassing vibrant red walls, large chairs in the corners, a dark brown cut-out wall pider and gold and black lighting fixtures. The other intimate room was round in shape, centered with a round table which seats up to 8 guests and is decorated with the same large red and gold hanging lamp shade lights as the bar area and an opaque wall piding it from the main dining room. Intimacy and excitement join forces in each room.

The right side of the restaurant consisted of black, rounded off booths with lush red, orange and gold pillows. The middle strip of the dining room is pided with two person booth seating vertically on the left, and table and chair seating horizontally along the right. Families, large groups of friends and couples fill the various seating sections. Each table is dimly lit with white candles, balancing a soft glow with the otherwise bold décor.  Music plays overhead, adding to the upbeat atmosphere without being overbearing. Each style of seating offers its own version of intimacy, with piders, comfortably spaced out tables, and inpidual adornment, allowing even a busy evening to be conversation friendly.

Our server offered us beverages to begin our meal, and Kim, nearby, was kind enough to give two suggestions: Jade Mistress and Original Moscow Mule.  Jade Mistress combines chili infused vodka, Thai basil and lemon sour. It’s an inventive beverage with tartness to it, and with each sip I took, the concept and flavor grew on me more and more. Green apple slices floated in the flat bottomed, v-shaped glass, complimenting the light yellow-green color of the liquid.

The Original Moscow Mule, composed of Russian standard Vodka, ginger beer and fresh lime was served in a copper mule mug, keeping the fresh flavored beverage icy cold throughout the meal. Kim informed us that this mild and refreshing carbonated beverage has only been on the menu for three weeks, and has already become a popular favorite, possibly due to the enticing mug it comes in. With a prominent ginger flavor present, sips in between meals served as a delicious palate cleanser.

As we quenched our thirst with drinks in hand, our first dish, the delightful Wok-Roasted Edamame was

delivered to the table by Chef Cranford. This is not your average edamame; it’s heated and flavored with sesame oil, orange zest and Szechuan pepper. The sesame flavor was bold without being overbearing and each pod was bursting with savory flavor.  The visible and flavorful zest had just the right amount of kick and left us with an amazingly satisfying aftertaste.

As we sipped our drinks, excitedly awaiting our next course, Chef Cranford came around the corner with a beautiful plate of Spicy Tuna with Tempura Eggplant in hand. The spicy Yellow Fin tuna was diced and held together in a ball by a creamy pink sauce, sitting atop a tempura-fried wafer of eggplant. The cool soft fish with a bite was complemented wonderfully by the soothing tempura eggplant, golden and crispy on the outside and steamy on this inside. The white rectangular plate was drizzled with sweet brown eel sauce and vibrant green scallions, allowing the colors and textures of this appetizer to pop as much as the scrumptious taste and allowing each ingredient to shine.

The next dish we were pleased try was the Duck Shiitake Lettuce Wrap. Sturdy butter-leaf lettuce pocketed shredded braised duck, sautéed shiitake mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and a sweet banana jelly.  The innovative mixture of darkened duck, rich in smoky barbeque flavor, soft saucy mushrooms and radiant red, juice-filled tomatoes harmonized a brilliant festival of flavor and color. The sweet accent of banana brought out the raw flavors of each ingredient and balanced the dish as a whole.  Our palates were undeniably pleased by this dish.

Our expectations of greatness began building with each previous plate of fantastic fare, and much to our delight, Chef Cranford exceeded our expectations with flying colors with the Scottish Salmon Wok Charred Vegetables with Red Curry Sauce and Jasmine Rice. The pan-seared salmon had a lightly seasoned, but far from bland golden exterior and fell perfectly apart with each gentle nudge of our forks. The moist pink layers of fish seemed to instantly melt in our mouths.  The Red Curry sauce was stunningly phenomenal.  Medium in brown color and thickness, it formed a pool at the bottom of the dish, allowing the fresh cauliflower, baby Bach Choy and shiitake mushrooms to bathe in its savory brilliance while spotlighting their natural flavors.

Following the salmon was a tough job, but some dish had to do it, and the Shaking Kobe Beef with Papaya and Mint was a great choice.  It exhibited Red Pearl Kitchen’s concept of family style dishes that are meant to be shared. The Kobe beef was prepared in tender bite sized, flavorful chunks of meat, each resembling a miniature steak with a seasoned, charred outside and a tender juicy inside. Pieces of sautéed red onion added great flavor and sweetness to the dish, while the mint brought freshness and extra pizzaz.  In addition to flavor, the bright orange papaya added a pop of color and a uniquely compatible texture; soft and smooth next to the more dense beef and onions.  Whole cherry tomatoes also added color, extracting warm juices with each bite. Though a hardy entrée, this dish provided excellent flavor and texture combinations without being too heavy. 

Though feeling more than satisfied after indulging in such amazing menu items, missing out on the Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Cake with Passion Fruit Sorbet would have been a sin. A crescent shaped chocolate mousse cake, covered in glossy chocolate sauce with a crisp cookie bottom sat on a plate in close company of a white scoop of passion fruit sorbet. Chocolate sauce was smeared across the plate in one fell swoop, and a decorative chocolate sculpture stood on top. Three small, but consecutively bigger circles of bright yellow passion fruit sauce dotted the plate with a combination of sweetness and tartness.  Encompassing each element of this dessert in one bite resulted in chocolaty- fruity bliss!

Each aspect of this meal was premeditated and so well executed that it was as much a work of creativity as it was cuisine. Chef Chad Cranford created mouth watering sauces, spices and garnishes that not only pulled together inspiring works of artful fare, but drew out the pure flavors of these seasonal ingredients, allowing their natural forms to shine.  This is perhaps the most commendable aspect of Chef Cranford’s awe inspiring craft. 

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Restaurant Info

  • Address: 440 J Street, Suite 108, San Diego CA 92101
  • Cross Street: 5th Avenue
  • Location: Downtown | Gaslamp Quarter
  • Cuisine:
  • Cost: $$ | Inexpensive | $25 - $50
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Meals Served: Dinner |
  • Parking: Street | Public Lot |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard |
  • Corkage Fee: N/A
  • Phone: (619) 231-1100

Business Hours

| Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
| Happy Hours 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
| Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
| Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
| Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
| Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
| Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
| Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.


  • Full Bar
  • Late Dining
  • Catering Services
  • Private Room
  • Takeout Available
  • Wheelchair Access
  • Happy Hours
  • Lounge / Bar
  • Chef’s Table


  • Dining Alone
  • Business Dining
  • Meet for a Drink
  • Quiet Conversation
  • Special Occasion
  • Trendy / Hip


F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions

The restaurant offers both a delivery and a catering service.
Yes. Red Pearl Kitchen is about half a mile from the Convention Center. It’s about a 10 minute walk, or a 2 minute drive.
Yes, Red Pearl Kitchen has a full service bar.


Dinner Menu

Traditional Appetizer

RPK Specialty Appetizer

Skewer & BBQ Appetizer



Wok-Fried & Roasted


Hot Pot



Restaurant Address: 440 J Street, Suite 108, San Diego CA 92101

User Reviews

Surprisingly Great!  

Surprisingly Great!

Awesome night  

We went to Red pearl last Saturday for my girlfriend's birthday after a friend recommended it to us for a larger group. We originally requested the private room but as it was booked we ended up in the main dining room. To be honest I think we had a better time there as we got to be in the action! The restaurant was very busy so I guess we were smart making a reservation. Our server Michelle was very pleasant and made some great recommendations. I really enjoyed the Spicy Tuna appetizer and the Shaking Kobe beef entree. I've always heard about kobe beef and found it very tender. The cocktails were also great, I had a spicy concoction known as the Jade Mistress. This is not for the faint of heart but spectacular nonetheless! Michelle also seemed very knowledgeable about the wine list but as we are not really big wine drinkers she had us stick to cocktails and even persuaded us to try sake for the first time - great! In a nutshell, Red Pearl had a great atmosphere, cool music, and very attentive staff. I would recommend this for a large group as they serve "family style" so everyone can share and try a bit of everything. We were going to leave when out of nowhere a DJ started spinning and we ended up staying another hour! Anyway, check it out as it was a happening place!

The Red Pearl Kitchen: A Dining Treasure  

It was a wonderful place to celebrate Valentine's Day this year. It was upscale, the service was decent but the food surpassed all expectations. My fried rice had bacon in it and it changed my life that night. I'm trying to get my boyfriend to go back already. It's somewhat hidden downtown, but this Red Pearl is definitely a Downtown treasure for all who decide to dine here.

food was good but outrageous and charges are does  

We were there for a party of 15 this month. The dessert is something you better see before you order. A scoop of chocolate moose was $9.00 ( equivalent to 3 tablespoons ) and 3 small scoops of ice cream was $9.00. After reviewing the receipt we were charge for something that we order and did not even get to our table. I was charged for it. Waitress has no time to listen to your complaint. An order of 1 shot of whisky for $20.00??? ridiculous. We ordered sweet and sour pork and what we got was pork spare ribs brushed with sweet and sour. I will never bring a group party there ever again. I don't recommend this place at all.

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