Sometimes, you want elegant decor, good food, affordable prices and convenient location when deciding where to eat out or meet for drinks. Until last October, the Four Corners neighborhood offered some of those choices, but not all of them in one restaurant. The owner of the Red Maple Asian Cuisine & Bar aims to please in every category.
"He is doing so well on 16th Street that he actually wanted a sit-down restaurant, something a little more upscale than the one he has over there," said Rio Villarroel, the general manager at Red Maple.
The restaurateur with the vision is James Zheng, who also owns Spring Garden Restaurant in Silver Spring. Having owned a successful restaurant in New York, Zheng started imagining what he could do with a space larger than the 16th Street eatery. What was the dark interior of the old Fajita Coast Restaurant (moved to 1115 East West Highway) is now a brighter, more urban decor and a modern bar at 10110 Colesville Road.
"I like the atmosphere of the restaurant," said Erica Shoemaker, a D.C. resident. "Also, the food is good. I've always had great service."
Villarroel credits Zheng for just about everything patrons experience at Red Maple. "He did it all himself," Villarroel said of Zheng. "He thought about how he wanted it to look; how he wanted the bar; and what kind of tile and tables."
Patrons living within walking distance have helped get the word out about the transformation waiting inside the new restaurant. Red Maple opened in October of 2012 with a sushi bar and an Asian fusion menu. Zheng brought in some chefs from New York and Philadelphia as well as others who are familiar with Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese cooking.
Red Maple's extensive sushi menu includes a list of specialty rolls such as the Rock 'N Roll, King Roll, Sapporo Roll and Crazy Roll. Sashimi is another popular choice as well as the Love Boat party tray.
Diners looking for American favorites such as General Tso's Chicken will find some typical Chinese cuisine choices. The menu also offers Japanese Bento boxes, tempura and teriyaki.
"Thankfully, the neighborhood supports us tremendously," said Villarroel. "It's hard to attract others because you can't tell from the outside how beautiful it is on the inside, and what kind of food it is."
Red Maple's general manager spent time at D.C.'s Notti Bianchi and Fujimar before joining Zheng. He envisions Red Maple as a place where neighbors, families and newcomers experience the best of urban, upscale dining.
"It won't be expensive, and it won't be a hassle to get there. That's what I want to bring here," said Villarroel. "I want a D.C. feel with no steep prices so the neighborhood can love it."
The prices are more reasonable than you might see at other upscale Asian restaurants. Appetizers range from $2.00 to $8.95. Sushi A La Carte is $1.95 to $3.75. Sushi Rolls are $3.25 to $5.50. Red Maple Special rolls are priced from $7.50 to $13.95. The Asian Cuisine entrees are $8.95 to $18.95 (whole fish). Vegetable and rice dishes are under $10. The cost for a Teriyaki Lunch Bento Box is $10.95. Lunch menu prices are generally lower.
As for the alcoholic beverages, Villarroel recently completed the lists for cocktails, wine and sake. Happy Hour is honored in the entire restaurant from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Happy Hour prices are $3.00 for beer, $4.00 for rail drinks and $5.00 for a glass of wine.
In the future, Villarroel wants to offer discounts to Montgomery Blair staff and students with photo ID cards. The website and social media connections are in the works. In addition, he sees Red Maple offering catering and rental options for weddings, corporate meetings and special events.
The restaurant's small parking lot is on Sutherland Road just off of Rt. 29 and University Boulevard. Check out Red Maple Asian Cuisine & Bar on Facebook.
Note: This is a restaurant profile, not a review. Opinions expressed do not represent the ideas of the writer or Patch.