The Red Parrot Asian Bistro in Hanover — the community in Anne Arundel County, not Pennsylvania — has good food in a bland setting.
It is a restaurant that specializes in Southeast Asian fare. The setting, a glassy corner building in a mall just off the Baltimore- Washington Parkway, is less than uplifting. The service, young men and women clad in black, is spotty. The fare, however, has taste and substance.
Red Parrot is one of the tenants of a shopping center that has sprung up on Dorchester Boulevard and Arundel Mills Boulevard, not far from the mother of all malls, Arundel Mills. Red Parrot shares its shopping center with Five Guys, Starbucks and various shops. It has glass walls that offer diners views of the shops and of cars whirling around a traffic circle. It also has three doors, only one of which is the entrance. Maybe that is why it felt drafty.
The bar area is about as large as the restaurant seating area. Booths line the walls of the dining area, and tables and chairs are squeezed in between. The piped-in music is loud. Families, couples and salesmen — many fingering their smart phones — were in evidence the weeknight that my wife and I visited.
Our appetizers took their time in coming, but once they hit the table, their arrival was welcome. The spicy California roll ($6.95), a selection from the restaurant's extensive sushi menu, was well done. So too with the steamed Thai dumplings ($7.95), ground shrimp-, pork- and crab-filled dumplings that were steamed to just the right texture.
The flaming beef ($18.95), an entree carrying a hot pepper logo next to its listing on the menu, lived up to its billing. Strips of thinly sliced beef were marinated then stir fried. The beautifully brown pieces of meat were served with rice and broccoli. The beef was tender and had pleasing, fiery flavors.
The honey ginger duck ($19.95) was prepared extraordinarily well. It had strips of duck laced with ginger, flavored with soy and honey. Quite nice.
The dessert menu held a surprise: mango sticky rice ($6.95), which did not sound winning but was quite good and not too sweet.
The banana tempura ice cream ($6.95) was less satisfying. The banana pieces, coated with a tempura batter, were delectable, but the vanilla ice cream was unexceptional.
Service was spotty at best. When I was served a glass of Windy Peak pinot noir ($7.50) that had turned vinegary, I could not find my waiter to replace it. I ended up walking over to a young man near the front door who was serving as greeter, giving him the glass and telling him it needed replacing. It was one of several instances during the meal that we were looking for our server. That shouldn't happen.
Red Parrot isn't gorgeous. You certainly don't feel pampered there. But for mid- to upper-price Asian fare, it is satisfying.
Where: 7698 Dorchester Blvd, Hanover
Contact: 410-799-4573 or redparrotasianbistro.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Credit Cards: American Express, Discovery, Master Card, Visa
Food: ✭ ✭ 1/2
Service: ✭ 1/2
Atmosphere: ✭ ✭
[Outstanding: ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ Good: ✭ ✭ ✭Fair or uneven: ✭ ✭ Poor: ✭