Mon to Sun, 12:00 noon - 3:00 pm
Mon to Sun, 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm
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Smoked eggs topped with fish roe
Steamed pork dumplings
Fried duck stuffed with eight flavours
Dark wooden furniture, dim red lighting and wraparound windows make this restaurant appear formal and traditional from the outside. Step inside and it is a world away from the surrounding area in the middle of a New Town in the New Territories. Dragon Inn does unfortunately resemble the Chinese restaurants scattered across the various Chinatowns found in the US or Australia, with the definite feel of something stuck in the 1990s. The tables are crammed close to each other in the middle of the room, leading to potential elbows, behinds and neighbouring conversations joining your table when the restaurant is busy.
Thankfully, the food at Dragon Inn is miles away from the somewhat cheesy decor. We begin our meal with a traditional smoked egg topped with crab and fish roe. The egg is perfectly smoked with a deep yellow yolk, the crab and fish roe adding a nice touch of seasoning on top. We also went with the pork tureen: and while meat in aspic may not seem like a very Chinese dish, the one at Dragon Inn is excellent, with a high pork content and a deep porcine flavour. The trademark steamed pork dumplings, while served in adorable individual bamboo baskets, are less successful, with each dumpling wielding a thick pastry and being slightly overcooked, but the flavour is pleasant nonetheless. We went with the chef’s special of braised deboned pig knuckles with spicy salt, which is brilliantly cooked, with fork-tender, flaking meat and crispy skin; the most glaring letdown being the dish has been heavily over-seasoned. The very traditional bak choi and tofu knots in salted pork and fresh pork broth is hearty and very flavourful with a strong pork flavour - again, we noticed there was a touch too much seasoning. Another of the chef’s Huaiyang specialities this season is the lobster with crispy rice cake and sweet chili sauce, which is sweet, tangy, sour and spicy. We found the sauce to be a trifle on the sweet side but the lobster is very fresh and perfectly cooked. The sauce is heaped on top of the lobster and for two people sharing, the dish is split into individual portions. Our last main is the Shanghai-style deep-fried duck, which contrary to its implied description, isn't crispy, though the meat itself is moist and juicy - provided you select the dark meat portions, otherwise we found it a little dry with some parts of the meat more seasoned than others. For vegetables, the braised Tientsin cabbage in Chinese wine sauce with charred spring onion is excellent and is an unusual pairing done well. The chef at Dragon Inn is undoubtedly willing to take risks with classical cuisine and for the most part, manages to pull it off, if only he could hold his salt a bit more.
Service at Dragon Inn can be slow, with a long wait between our appetiser and second dishes: considering we were one of only three tables at that point, it is a tad worrying how the kitchen handles a full dining room.
There is no tasting of the wine at Dragon Inn, with the wine coming from “somewhere else in the hotel”. The Australian Semillon sauvignon blend is a decent pairing with the seafood and poultry, as is the Australian Westend Estate Riesling.
A meal for two with wine starts at around HK$600; depending on what you order, this figure can rise to about HK$1,200. Considering the extensive range of regional cuisines on offer and the fairly good execution, this is very good food, particularly for a restaurant in this part of town.