My husband and I have been a little lazy on the cooking recently. Naughty us. For the third night in a row, we agreed to eat out just once more this week. After work, we decided to meet up at Chinatown, where we don't normally go, but seemed like the sensible place as it was the half way mark between his work and my work. Being extremely hungry, we decided that Dragon Inn in the Chinatown mall would sate our growling stomach.
So we waltzed into Dragon Inn at 5.30pm and seated ourselves as the waitress was busy with another table. Soon after, she brought over the big colourful menu and water. From memory, pretty much every single item on the menu had a picture, which was totally awesome. As usual, we ummed and ahhed about what we wanted. Our typical ritual (as inherited from my parents) was to order something fried, a meat dish and something with vegetables. So following those set of rules we finally settled with salt and pepper quail, Sichuan pork, combination tofu hot pot, and Shinjin chicken. Oh yes, our eyes were always much bigger than our stomach when it came to eating out. The waitress warned us about Shinjin chicken as most Caucasians didn't like it apparently. She said it had some sort of strange Chinese spice in it. Nevertheless, we did not change our minds.
Our meals came quickly and we dug in straighaway. Salt and pepper quail was good, though I never really understood the bed of stale shredded lettuce that lay underneath the quail. Indeed, it was there to prevent food from sliding off the plate and soak up the oil. Sure, it got the job done, but fresh green lettuce would've been better to look at.
The combination tofu hot pot I was used to had more vegetables and tofu; and sauce would be bubbling ferociously when placed in front of you. However, I was disappointed that it was lukewarm and the sauce hadn't been mixed properly as some parts were watery, others thicker. The flavour was pretty good otherwise. It had wilted lettuce at the bottom that was saucy, juicy mushrooms, flavoursome tofu, and various kinds of meat that was tender.
Sichuan pork was my favourite. As it sizzled from the kitchen to our table, I was staring at it with anticipation and could not wait to dig in. Who didn't crave a plate of hot sizzling food on a cold winter's night? What's more, it was delectable. It ticked all the boxes: perfect ratio of pork to vegetables, pork was lean and just melted in your mouth, food stayed hot and the balance of flavours was excellent. Being able to get my veggie fix for the night, I was utterly content.
Shinjin chicken wasn't bad. My carnivorous husband liked the idea of 'whole plate of chicken and no veggies'. Having said that, it did come with fried seaweed even though it was mainly there for decoration. It was on the salty side, but with steamed rice it was just scrumptious. The flavour was so interesting and gave us tingly tongues. Taking a closer look at the chicken, I found the source of our tingly tongues - Sichuan peppers, which I have cooked with before, but never experienced tingly tongues before. Taste was hard to describe and I can't say for sure that it would be pleasing on most people's palate. For me, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Chinese restaurants aren't the best places to have a romantic dinner. Many have carpets that are 100 years old or dirty tiles; at others tables are so close that you are all practically sitting next to each other; it can be quite chaotic if the restaurant is busy; and it can become fairly noisy. We have our favourites in Chinatown, but the rest seemed a bit hit and miss. All in all, our experience at the Dragon Inn was deeply satisfying. Prompt service, friendly staff and extensive menu. We were fat and happy afterwards. Costing only $60.60, it made our wallets happy too.