Red Snapper (8430 Ward Pkwy)

 Posted by at 3:01 pm
Jun 022008

I couldn’t believe it when people started telling me this place was good. You know why?

The sign.

Tell me this doesn’t look like a pathetic Red Lobster rip-off joint. I mean, the font is even the same! Located just north of the Ward Parkway mall, Red Snapper sits in a newish, sterile and unappetizing strip mall that would be just as comfortable at College and Quivira. You know, the kind of place you might find, oh I don’t know, one of these?

But there I was this past week after a long hard morning looking futilely for a seersucker suit (guy at Dillard’s: “I haven’t seen one of those in 15 years!”). Since I don’t patronize creepy Christian chains or partake in food court schmutz, I wound up at Red Snapper.

Imagine my surprise when I walked in–no nautical themed murals, hanging fishnets or porthole-shaped windows. Instead I found a very classy place, tastefully decorated and airy. Two giant, round fishtanks sit right inside the front door which was a little alarming, but they are pretty cool.

The lunch menu is small, well-priced and reasonably varied. I hesitate to use the term “pan-Asian” not because it isn’t appropriate but more because I don’t really know what it means. No really, this place is totally pan-Asian. The dinner menu is much more extensive and interesting than the lunch menu. There are dishes familiar to those who enjoy Chinese, Japanese, and Thai food. Maybe even a little whiff of Korea as well.

Their specialty is, well, red snapper. They offer a crispy red snapper on the lunch menu and I went for it. There is also a panko fried halibut which looked appealing as well.

The snapper was delicious. It came with a thin, light and crispy batter. Moreover it was the whole filet–plenty to eat. Unfortunately it came atop a rather pedestrian stir-fry. The assortment of vegetables was fine but the sauce was the usual nebulous brown gravy thickened with cornstarch that you find at any two-bit Chinese restaurant. Kudos for all the fresh ingredients, though. The only thing canned was the baby corn which, predictably I loathe. Landfills all over the USA are choked with decaying tons of baby corn, discarded uneaten from the plates of Chinese restaurant patrons.

Red Snapper gets props for the full bar too, although I would prefer more Asian beers than Sapporo. So I had to settle for a Heineken, the BMW * of beers.

My lunch companion had a more conventional stir-fry dish with tofu which was basically the exact same vegetables and sauce that I had under the snapper.

My instinct here is that Red Snapper is probably a better place for dinner because the menu is so much bigger and the atmosphere lends itself better to evening forays. They probably do a decent lunch business from all the folks going to and from the mall, not to mention all the office buildings down that way. But they keep it very simple, which is fine.

So overall a nice experience, decent but not overwhelming food, and a perfectly fine option if you find yourself hankering for pan-Asian grub down on Ward Parkway.

* overrated, big in the 80s, purchased by assholes

Read more:

Red Snapper on Urbanspoon


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  17 Responses to “Red Snapper (8430 Ward Pkwy)”

  1. now I have to go out of my way to try this. how much was your lunch anyway? you should develop a pricing indicator so I don’t have to ask.

  2. I L.O.V.E. Red Snapper. Oddly enough, the first time I went there, I thought it was a grill and bar type place, then we had the best duck EVER!

    Their wine selection is nice, too.

  3. meesha–most of the lunch items were 9 or 10 dollars.

    janet–I forgot to mention their wine selection, they are certainly very big on that.

  4. Nope. Not better for dinner. I’d heard the place was great, too, so Leo and I tried it a while back.

    It impressed me about as much as Bo Ling’s did back when I tried it.

    I’m not sure what it is about midwesterners and their concept of what “good” Asian food is, but Red Snapper and Bo Ling’s is not it. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by my California rearing, or something. (We don’t like Olive Garden out there either…here, they have lines out the door on the average weeknight. Makes me go, “Hmm…” with my head cocked to one side.)

    Anyway, glad your fish was good! When we went there for dinner long ago, the service was crappy, and the ambience was lacking, thanks to the crappy table set-up and the weird people that happened to be dining there that night. Made for ok peoplewatching, but that was about it.

    p.s. Sapporo is da bomb. You scare me with your choice to drink Heineken (::shudders::) over it. I thought I knew you a little, man. ::shaking head::

  5. faith, I’m totally not dissing Sapporo at all, but it was the giant can which I was not prepared for. Well actually not true because come to think of it, cuz I did have two beers. sigh. I was really looking for a Tsing Tao.

  6. Oh, and don’t get me started on midwesterners and the Olive Garden. Logic-defying.

  7. Olive Garden and other chains are easy to explain, they are consistent. Maybe consistently crappy but still. People like familiar foods. It’s like going to Europe and ordering #2 at McDonald’s. Nasty but so dear to American heart.

  8. Try asking for a Chinese menu, many Chinese restaurants in Kansas City have a separate, more authentic Chinese menu. Most of the time, there are English translation at the bottom of the Chinese writing. Most items on the Chinese menu don’t have brown sauce, brown sauce is very Americanize Chinese food. Red Snapper is pretty good if you get the Chinese menu, so is Bo Ling, but my favorite Chinese restaurant is Lucky Wok. The best Cantonese style Chinese food in Kansas City.

  9. Ah, the can o’ Saporro. It throws me off, because when it’s completely empty, it still feels like there’s some left in it. Weird.

    Hmm…Lucky Wok. Sounds familiar. I might need to look it up.

  10. Tze Yuin–thanks for the info. I have always heard about “secret” menus at Chinese restaurants but have never actually witnessed it. Is Lucky Wok at 87th and Lackman? I’ll definitely check it out.

  11. My fear of ordering from real Chinese menu is to end up looking like a moron (which I do already 90% of the time). If someone like Tze Yuin would take a few people to the restaurant and explain what’s what and how you are supposed to eat it I’d be willing to pay for lunch/beer.

  12. If you ever go to Lucky Wok, don’t get the buffet and nothing from the American menu. Tell them you want the Chinese menu, it has English translation, and everything is really good, plus the price is really reasonable.

    Lucky Wok
    15129 W 87th Street Pkwy
    Lenexa, KS 66219
    (913) 894-8808

    This is the best write up on Kansas City Chinese food, I don’t know the blogger himself, but he did a really good job explaining, especially since he can’t read mandarin.

  13. Hey, thanks for the write up. I haven’t been that side of the mall in ages, and assumed ole Red was gone. When I first spied it, I also assumed it was somebody trying to capitalize on the Red Lobster name. It’s nice to know different.

    As for the Midwest and mediocre chain joints, I have a theory. And the short form goes thus… locals really want to try something new and different but are basically cowards. So places like OG let them have something a little different, but still within their sphere of comfort. Hell, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not so daring every day.

    N }:-

  14. You’re right Nuke. I’m absolutely unadventurous at times as well. It’s very hard to decide to go somewhere new or unusual, especially when you’re in the middle of a workday. There’s a reason I only post once in a while: because I’m usually eating price chopper salad bar or more likely repeating someplace I’ve already been.

  15. Seersucker? What are you, some sort of Southern country lawyer?

    If you want a seersucker suit, I suggest either Jack Henry or Brooks Brothers on the Plaza. Of course, if I were going to go all out on such an item, I’d order it from J. Press.

  16. YAY, I am glad that you enjoyed it. I will point out that the teriyaki salmon on the lunch (and dinner) menu rules.

    I love this place because it’s NOT just another Chinese restaurant where they assume all Americans want Sweet & Sour Chicken- though they do offer it.

    They have lots of kinds of dumplings that kick Bo Ling’s in the butt. They have AWESOME kimchi. Their sauces are better than the average Asian place- and they have FRESH VEGGIES.

    I love it, love the wait staff, and drive way the heck out there rather than going to the River Market Bo Lings that is a block away from me in the River Market.

    Totally worth the drive, worth the money. Fun, tasty stuff.

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