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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

GOURMET'S NOTEBOOK: Dragon House




As we made our way to Dragon House, a colleague who had been their already offered a bit of cautionary commentary: "It's fine, although the last time I was there I found a piece of rock in the mushroom soup."


For a mythical beast, the dragon seems somewhat prosaic. Inside, it's a fairly ordinary Chinese restaurant except for the raised pagoda at the far end that dominates the room. To sit at the table in the pagoda, you have to stumble over a rickety, wooden latticed bridge, which curls up and down beside a mini-pond with one solitary fish. The bridge is a killer in high heels, and our waitress precariously tottered over when she made the five-minute detour around the lake and over the bridge to serve us.


The ceiling is covered with plastic vegetation and the tableware ups the tackiness with small, naked, porcelain women as chopstick holders and a 1-foot-tall statuette of a smiling Chinese woman on each table.


There were no prawn crackers for starters, only a rather unfamiliar list of odds and ends. We skipped the mushroom soup and tried to be adventurous with the jellyfish salad and vegetables (48 rubles, or $7.70), unimaginative with the crispy fried duck (72 rubles) and boring with the pickled gherkins in Yan Zhou sauce (20 rubles).


The jellyfish tasted like a boy scout's knot collection so we left it to dry out under the pagoda's lamp while we suffered from the duck's cellulite. The gherkins were OK, but not particularly filling.


Luckily, the waitress brought the pork in oyster sauce (80 rubles) along with the starters so we had something decent to eat before the rice arrived at the end of the meal. Our other main course, the beef in Szechuan sauce (70 rubles), was a whiffy garlic sea of peppers and beef, which overpowered one friend but was devoured by another. The rice, liberally stuffed with prawns and vegetables, wasn't an overly generous portion but is still the best thing on the menu.


Unfortunately, the kitchen had closed by the end of our meal, so we couldn't try the toffee lychees, but our waitress brought us a selection of cakes to choose from.


"Are they made here?" I asked.


"Oh, no!" she exclaimed, as if to reassure us that they were quite safe to eat. They were, especially the Black Forest Gateau (30 rubles), although they're probably cheaper from the store.


But the best thing about the restaurant is the service. Instant welcoming smiles greeted us, even though we'd arrived just before closing. The genuine friendliness of the staff almost made me want to finish the jellyfish.


After a couple of tasty Chinese beers (Tsingtao at 24 rubles) and two gin and tonics, the total came to 581 rubles. The receipt bore the name of the old restaurant, Flamingo's Chicken House.


Dragon House. 4 Leningradsky Prospekt, 257-0152, noon to midnight. Metro: Belorusskaya.