‘House of the Red Pearl’ Menu Suite

James Bond might’ve always had the latest gadgets, but it was 007’s enemies who knew the value of elegant surroundings, especially those extravagant restaurants where they hatched their evil schemes. These are what inspired the luscious interior of New York’s House of the Red Pearl, a Chinese-themed speakeasy. And of course an elegant restaurant requires an elegant menu.

Intrigued by the idea of having menus that blended perfectly with a venue’s ambiance, our friends at Mucca Design created a piece resembling an ancient Chinese folding fan – accomplished by using a pre-scored area that runs right down the middle of the paper – perfect for hiding one’s face in a speakeasy 😉

Printed by Masterpiece Printers on 80 lb. Domtar Cougar Smooth White paper [PaperSpecs PRO members: Get Your Free Swatchbook], one side features a current offering of main courses, appetizers and side dishes. These get updated in-house regularly, but more about this later.

The other side – the exterior of the “fan” – is flooded with Red ink and embellished with Red hot foil dots (a nice callback to the “House of the Red Pearl” name), while Chinese characters, also in Red foil, lend the whole piece an authentic Chinese feel.

This subtle-yet-elegant tone-on-tone effect is a classy nod to the whole hidden-in-plain-sight aspect of the speakeasy itself, which is concealed behind an Asian grocery store inside New York’s Tin Building: an upscale, 53,000 square-foot food hall and marketplace. (And for which Mucca Design did all the branding and design!)

What makes this all even more impressive is the fact that this menu – and the others that accompany it – can be easily updated thanks to large, perforated and pre-scored sheets that are simply run through the restaurant’s high-end laser printer. After they’ve been reprinted, the staff simply fold the new ones along the pre-existing score.

As you can imagine, one of the biggest challenges the designers faced was developing a die-cut sheet that would not get ripped up by, or jam inside, the printer.

Like an elaborate puzzle, the following pieces fit inside, or sit next to, the beautiful Red folding fan menu:

  • The White drinks menu sports a scalloped top similar to that of the Red folding fan and provides a nice contrast in color and size, as it protrudes from the top and bottom of that menu.
  • The full-bottle wine list wows with Red hot foil dots and Chinese characters on the White cover.
  • The dessert menu looks just like the main folding fan one – Red foil on a Red cover – but is less than a quarter of the size. And last but not least…
  • The check holder is another Red foil on Red cover piece, only with a couple of important differences. Not only does it not fold like the previous menus, but it also lacks the scalloped edges of the meal and dessert menus.

It makes up for this by being noticeably thicker and features multiple scores radiating out from a central point at the bottom, giving it an impressive seashell appearance and feel. Printed in Red on the back is a traditional Chinese poem about gratitude – a subtle reminder to tip your service staff generously.

From the Red foil and printing that matches the restaurant’s interior to the clever way the designers made the menus updatable without sacrificing the details that make them so unique, these materials are every bit as creative as James Bond’s famous gadgets. And if you use the dessert menu correctly, you’ll end up accomplishing something 007 never did: having a Fortune Cookie Sundae placed in front of you at meal’s end!

Project Details

Title ‘House of the Red Pearl’ Menu Suite Client Jean-Georges Vongerichten / The Howard Hughes Corp. Date May 2022 Design Mucca Design
Print Masterpiece Printers
Paper Domtar Cougar Smooth White 80 lb.

Production Details

Dimensions 15” x 10” Printing Method Offset + laser printed Number of Colors 2 Finishing and Binding Perforating, die cutting, hot foil stamping
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