UPDATE (July 25, 2017): The location will open tomorrow, July 26, as Zhang’s Grill. According to a tip sent to this site, the owner also has another restaurant in Wall Township.
UPDATE (August 6, 2017): Read my review of Zhang’s Grill. Take it as a warning.
I miss Ruby Palace. Maybe not enough to profile them in my surprisingly popular “Restaurants We Miss Column”, but I still yearn for them every once in a while. They closed before I turned 21, so one of their famous Mai Tai’s was never an option. But the food was decent. I remember several visits with my parents. For some reason, they seemed frequent when I was a child in the 1990’s before kind of fading out by the 2000’s. Was there a dip in quality? I cannot recall. What I do remember is being first introduced to the Pu Pu Platter here. There was a can of sterno in the middle of it under a mini grill so you could heat up your own food at the table. Fascinating to any child, no doubt. The other thing I remember put them ahead of their time. Ruby Palace had a deal (for around $40) which included two Mai Tai’s, a Pu Pu Platter, and two entrees. Groupon and similar websites make this commonplace now, but at the time it was unique.
They went out of business around 2011 or 2012. The building has sat vacant since. Well, sort of. About two years ago, construction began. A sign replacing Ruby Palace and bearing the name “Ar Zhang” (and later, “Zhang’s Grill”) went up. It boasted of fine Asian cuisine. Considering Ruby Palace was there forever and was much-loved by many, people immediately started to talk and get excited. But no progress at all has been made in the last two years. Every once in a while when passing by, there will be a truck or van in the parking lot and maybe a handful of workers inside. I cannot find anything online about it. Usually, there is a blog or Patch post when a new restaurant opens up, especially at a location like that. But nothing. Radio silence.
Interestingly enough, in 2014 (as far as I can tell) a Facebook page was created titled “New Ruby Palace” using the Holmdel address. This was right around when construction started. There are no posts, just a couple of user comments asking what happened and if it will ever reopen. The restaurant responded once, thanking one commenter for being a customer. What will happen, if anything, to this location? Only time will tell…or not.