Seeing Red

Like most contemporary Asian outlets, Green Pepper is replete with high-tech touches, subtle though they are. Plastic chairs in black and yellow surround dark tables. Walls washed in subdued yellow hover over dark wallpaper wainscoting imbedded with Chinese characters. And Green Pepper has a motto: "We are a BYOB restaurant...and we have storage available for your libations."

How many upscale dining rooms can say that? But while BYOB is OK, Green Pepper is mostly a to-go restaurant, which, with just a handful of tables, is fine. Though if you decide to brown-bag some hooch and stay on premise, you'll find the table service doled out by the counter personnel is just as good as any restaurant--observant, quick, pleasant and accommodating. We just wish the food kept pace.

It was difficult to visualize what the Thai "scallop-mari" might look like, though it turned out to resemble satay. Pieces of scallop are shoved onto wooden skewers, coarsely coated, fried to the hue of rust and rested on a bed of lettuce leaves. The coating was greasy, but the scallops were richly sweet and tasty.

Green Pepper touches on a variety of Asian fare, from Vietnamese to Japanese. Pho, a soup often called the national dish of Vietnam, is served already assembled instead of in two parts: a bowl of broth, noodles and meat with a side plate of bean sprouts, cilantro, lime and peppers to add and mix to taste. Beef slices were juicy and tasty, and the broth, speckled with scallions, onion slivers and cilantro scraps, was clean, though tepid (lime and peppers would help here). Flat rice noodles were mushy and overcooked.

The same soup base appears to be used in the wonton noodle soup. But the wonton soup was packed with more clutter: fried wonton purses that got a little spongy in the broth bath; a generous dispersion of dry pork slices with edges stained magenta; and an array of bean sprouts, scallions, onions and cilantro. Still, the broth was torpid, no matter what it floated.

Big bowl vermicelli noodles, a bowl of juicy and tasty pork slathered in a sweet savory sauce served with cucumber slices and bean sprouts and a pile of chopped peanuts, was filled with thick noodle strands that had somehow bonded and ossified.

Pad Thai was a snooze. Large round chicken knobs (dry) wrestled with a conspicuous pile of chopped peanuts and a strewing of bean sprouts (oddly, egg and/or tofu are optional). The sauce was unobtrusive. In fact, it was hard to detect, except that it seemed to provide an inconspicuous adhesive to facilitate noodle cling.

The focal point of the Kowloon pan-fried noodles was the bird's nest of airy dried egg noodles that were assembled to absorb a sweet, soupy sauce with mushrooms, onions, carrot and shrimp. The orchestration, for the most part, was good. But the shrimp centerpiece was shriveled and tough and tasted like cardboard.

Protein installments in the Thai spicy beef were better. Chewy and juicy flank steak slices shared a rich, slightly greasy sauce with zucchini fragments, snow peas and onions.

In addition to Dallas, Green Pepper has locations in Irving, Coppell and Colleyville, with units to open in Lakewood and Plano. Yet despite the name, we didn't come across a single sliver of the stuff, though we did see a lot of red ones. But we could be colorblind


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