Chinese food? Check. Thai food? Check. Korean food, Vietnamese food, and Japanese food? Check, check, and check. At Red Parrot Asian Bistro, diners can go on a culinary excursion across Asia without even leaving the restaurant, much less the country.
One might order an appetizer of Thai crispy spring roll, and then follow up with an entrée of Korean stir-fried beef. One might dig into a sushi roll, and then get the Chinese take-out classic General Tso’s Chicken. The menu offers many possibilities to mix, match, and most of all, explore.
With two spots in Maryland, Red Parrot Asian Bistro crossed the river earlier this year when it opened its Ballston location. The Arlington restaurant is a window-lined corner spot in the ground floor of an office building. The large dining room boasts a sushi bar as its focal point, surrounded by booths and tables with large paper lanterns hanging overhead. The space is elegant and understated, lending the diner’s attention to the difficult food decisions to come. The restaurant serves the favorite dishes of Asian cuisine, but they are many, and daunting when presented all together.
Sushi rolls combining a variety of fish and fillings occupy the greatest part of the menu. The Dynamite Roll ($13), a house favorite, pairs finely minced and lightly spicy fish – tuna inside the roll and yellowtail on the outside. Concealed within the roll are wisps of tempura crunch, which add a nice variety in texture to a fresh and flavorful roll. And the sushi doesn’t lack for presentation; a plastic cube, glowing with blue light, is settled on the corner of the plate beneath clear noodles and orange roe.
A selection of dim sum dishes – dumplings, bao, pancakes, and more – is offered on a side menu which, considering a bite into a Pork and Veggie Bao ($6) with a lukewarm center, seems an afterthought.
The Chef’s Suggestions menu section narrows the field of entrees, but still lists more than 20 dishes. Among them is the Bibimbap ($18). The dish is served hot from a small clay pot at the table. Inside, chunks of beef and vegetables are situated on a mound of rice, which develops a nice crunch toward the bottom as it sits against the hot dish. A fried egg at the top of the bowl lets yolk flow down into the rice, and bit of sweet sauce is served at the side to be added to the diner’s taste for a delicious mélange of flavors. With an order of Bibimbap comes a flight of banchan, three of the pickled Korean side dishes, a nice nod to tradition from a restaurant that has many cuisines to manage.
The Red Parrot Spicy Crispy Empress Chicken ($15), another among the Suggestions, serves chunks of chicken breast, lightly battered and fried in ample portion, in a sweet and slightly spicy sauce with pepper, pineapple, and broccoli.
Beyond the Chef’s Suggestions are even more entrees, divided between those made with noodles or rice as their focus, and those centered on meat. Among the noodle and rice dishes is a selection allowing diners to choose a protein and style of noodle or rice to pair. Most meat-focused entrees are served with the choice of chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp, but some can even include duck or lamb.
Variety is, as the saying goes, the spice of life. The adage is certainly true when it comes to dining. Red Parrot Asian Bistro doesn’t leave diners wanting for diversity in selection, but it comes at a cost; most entrees are $15 or more, and having so many styles of cuisine to master means some dishes may fall short.
Red Parrot Asian Bistro is located at 1110 N. Glebe Road, Arlington. For more information, call 703-351-7880 or visit redparrotasianbistro.com. Restaurant hours are Sunday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.