Dragon House: Old Asian Restaurant in Maadi Isn’t What it Once Was
84, Road Nine
11am - 11pm
Gaser El Safty
Asian restaurants are in no short supply in Cairo; in fact, Asian cuisine has actually flourished in recent years, with the lesser known Thai and Korean cuisines coming to the forefront in the capital.
With the emergence of so many new Asian restaurants, we dropped by one of the older competitors to see how they fare with new challenges. The Dragon House Group, founded in 1993, operates a number of branches around Egypt, including Alexandria and Sharm El Sheikh, and a sister restaurant called India Corner.
Surviving for over two decades in the Egyptian restaurant scene is no easy task, so we went over to Road 9 in Maadi and took the difficult-to-find staircase up to Dragon House, where we found it still retained the red and gold Chinatown colour scheme paired with bright green carpets. Is the décor a bit much? Perhaps. Is it any different from any other Asian restaurant? Hardly.
A pleasant waiter greeted and seated us and then proceeded to place the different menus on our table. We were in a particular mood for Chinese, so we opted for Fried Won Tons (16.25LE) and Steamed Fried Dumpling (16.25LE) from the appetsers.
For our mains, we opted for the Spicy Fried Chicken with Garlic (48.5LE) and the Beef with Broccoli (55LE), in addition to Fried Rice with Eggs (15.5LE) and Handmade Noodles with Beef (32LE).
Despite being something akin to sambousak, the won tons boasted crispy golden outer layer and a chicken stuffing that was actually quite tasty. The Steamed Fried Dumplings weren’t as interesting, because only the underside was fried and the stuffing was the same as the won ton.
Unfortunately, things went south from there. Our previous review of Dragon House praised the Beef with Broccoli highly, but we found it to be bland in seasoning and the beef overcooked and, basically, chewy. The handmade noodles with beef suffered exactly the same problem; the beef was chewy and flavourless, pulling down the equally flavourless noodles.
The Spicy Fried Chicken with Garlic was slightly better than the beef – but not by much. Masking the same kind of blandness with chilli, the chicken was cooked better, though, once again, there was a distinct lack of flair and flavour – something that Asian cuisine is loved for. The Fried Rice with Eggs was decent, but only just.
Despite being an institution of Asian dining Cairo for the last two decades, Dragon House has failed to keep-up with the more modern restaurants across the city and seems to have forsaken authenticity. What was left during the time of our visit, was forgettable – even objectionable – food that is now easily found at better quality.