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You are immediately transported to another world the minute you enter Dragon Inn. Everything from the dark, wooden furniture, to the décor, to the cutlery and even down to the music is designed to evoke ancient China – possibly Jiangsu – as the restaurant proudly claims it serves Huaiyang cuisine.
We went for an early lunch on a weekend and found a slightly busy restaurant with mostly families who have decided to start their day with a dose of comfort Chinese food. They accept walk-ins but reservations are recommended, specially if you’re looking to pre-order their special braised duck stuffed with eight treasures.
Our party of two was immediately seated on the side, while traditional round tables are available for bigger parties. There are also several rooms available away from the main dining area if privacy is needed. Space isn’t a problem as there is more than enough to move around comfortably without brushing against another patron or waiter.
Dragon Inn specialises in Huaiyang cuisine, one of China’s 4 major styles of cooking, characterized by the way the ingredients are cut and the use of Zhenjiang vinegar. This philosophy is encapsulated by the pork terrine with vinegar jelly where the pork is meticulously prepared and shaped into bite-sized cut. The vinegar jelly provides a wonderful contrast to the nondescript meat, starting off sour but finishes off sweet. It will most definitely lead you to seconds…or thirds…We also ordered a basket of xiaolongbao which they did a very commendable job – the skin is not thick, the pork is perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the soup bse is not too hot.
Next came the deep-fried king prawns with salted egg yolk. This should be considered a Chinese comfort food, if it isn’t already. The first thing you will smell is the aroma of the salted egg, which gives the batter the character it deserves. The batter itself was quite thick and the prawn a bit on the small side but don’t let it stop you from enjoying this. And for good measure, the chef decided rightly to include some leftover egg yolk sauce on the plate in case you’d like to top it over the dish. For our greens, we opted for the spicy ground meat with string beans. Compared to similar dishes in other restaurants, this one was not too spicy and not too oily. There was more of a hint of sweetness (again the influence of Huaiyang cuisine), but the string beans came in a tad over cooked.
The drinks list at Dragon Inn is not extensive. They have a house red and white wine that can be ordered by the bottle or glass. They have several choices of chiew (Chinese wine) ranging from the 5-year old Guyue Longshan Huadiao to the top-end Kweichow Moutai. For our orders, we kept it simple with just tea, of which staff recommended to serve the shui hsien to complement our food.
Our initial impression of the service was standard and maybe a bit impersonal. But once we started ordering, the staff was quite helpful to suggest which dishes to order and cautioned us on over-ordering. They were also responsive to our requests, no matter how minute they were.
Our total bill came to a little over HK$600 for 4 mains, rice and tea – and we still had some left over. The serving sizes more than enough to share with up to 3 persons. This is very good value considering they are located within a hotel. If you find yourself in Sha Tin, a trip to Dragon Inn is a must. No business in the New Territories? Make up one – this is definitely worth the trip.