Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Restaurant Review: Dragon BBQ Express

Dragon BBQ Express - lunch on May 24, 2015
Every Sunday after church, my parents and I go out to lunch. We typically tend to stick to the same places yet every Sunday after the service, we always wonder where we should go for lunch. For my frugal, first-generation immigrant parents, the price points have to be in a “reasonable” range meaning they have to feel like a) it should be cheap, b) they have to feel like they received the right value for what they paid and c) don’t forget it should be cheap. I’m not talking fast food cheap but somewhere in the $10-$14 an entrée range is okay.
After exhausting all the typical chain restaurants nearby, some of which appear to be raising their prices and hence falling out of favor in our usual Sunday lunch circuit, I turned to yelp for suggestions. BBQ Dragon Express had a 3.5-star rating, it was nearby and it was akin to fast Chinese food so it seemed like a safe bet.

It’s in a mini strip mall and one of those places I would probably easily overlook if it hadn’t been favorably rated on yelp. It’s pretty small with more than half the space taken up by the counters of food and the hanging pork shoulder (looked like lechon), roast duck and chicken. There are several tables for dine in but for the most part, it looked like it was mostly a takeout business. Think of it like a Panda Express but if Panda is Westernized Chinese food, this was slightly more authentic Chinese food. Sort of.
Like Panda, there were trays of various dishes in warming trays. You pointed to what you wanted and the server dished up generous – and I mean generous – portions into a takeout box. A combo was rice, fried rice or noodles plus 2 side dishes. I pointed to “safe” Americanized Chinese food choices: steamed rice, lemon chicken and sesame chicken, the latter both breaded and in their accompanying sauces. Okay, probably not that authentic in terms of China Chinese food but suited to my bland taste buds.
The rice was good as was the sesame chicken but I wasn’t impressed with the lemon chicken. The chicken pieces were good-sized but the texture was a bit odd, not quite the firmness of chicken but too firm to be fish. It was weird. Fortunately the sesame chicken didn’t have a texture issue and was quite tasty.
Sesame Chicken (top left) and Lemon Chicken (top right)
The place was also really cheap. Our 3 combo orders came to $19.55 including tax so it was just slightly more than $6.50 per person. Given the generous portions that were literally enough for 3 meals (2 if you’re really hungry), that was a bargain. Not sure I’d make this a regular stop on our Sunday lunch circuit (I think my parents would have preferred Panda Express) but it was good to try out at least once and support another local small business. 

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