The Golden Dragon restraunt; a cultural dining experience

Written by: Lois Elswick

Golden Dragon Restaurant, located on State Rd., truly offers their guests a unique dining experience.

Serving both Chinese and Japanese cuisine, the restaurant not only offers the best of both countries, but also has a décor that is ornate and luxurious. Upon entering, I was blown away by the beautifully decorated sushi bar and heavily stocked gift area featuring Asian collectibles.

Heading to my table, I noticed a gorgeous flowing river complete with a bridge containing Asian foliage and exotic fish. The dining room was spacious, but the true charm of this restaurant is the back room where I was seated. It is a traditional Japanese seating area with tables low to the floor and lush pillows on the ground to sit on.

The only restaurant in town that has such a seating option, the Golden Dragon clearly has a niche. If you would like to sit in this area, come on Friday or Saturday and be sure to remove your shoes before being seated.

“It’s the total experience,” said regular customer Ron Krohn. “People come for the camaraderie, the sushi, food and the atmosphere.”

Golden Dragon has been open for 23 years, nine of them in the same location.

“Our staff has become not only friends, but family,” said owner Meng Pung. “Service is one thing, but we really take care of our customers.”

Often working 14-hour days, Pung clearly is devoted to the success of his business. He hires chefs, not cooks, and he prides himself on having the freshest sushi, as it is cut and prepared fresh daily.

“I have been coming here for years; this is my favorite restaurant,” said another regular, Eddie Armani. “The sushi is the best in town. The portions are generous, the staff is super friendly and efficient and the décor is amazing.”

After being seated on the plush pillows, I decided to sample some of the drinks. Golden Dragon has a very unique drink menu, with many of the drinks being rum based. They also offer “volcano” drinks that are made for two people to share and come served in a volcano-shaped glass complete with a real flame at the top for $9.95.

A flavorful drink was the “Suffering Bastard” ($4.95) which featured rum, vodka, sour mix and amaretto.

When serving the “Tonight or Never” drink, Pung often asks customers, “Is that a threat or a warning?”

The featured shot for the adventurous drinker is the “Chaiquila,” which boasts raw quail eggs, tequila and is topped with wasabi.

Moving on to appetizers, I was pleasantly surprised. Their wonton soup ($1.95) was hot and flavorful and the wontons were obviously freshly made. The fried dumplings ($5.95) were my favorite appetizer, and were large and also obviously freshly made and served with a delicious sauce.

I also tried the crab rangoon ($6.95), which arrived crispy and chock-full of crab. My egg rolls ($1.75 each) were very large and not too greasy, with a delectable filling.

Armani said that the egg rolls are “perfect; you’ll never find better.”

The sushi rolls I sampled were excellent. The Lonestar Roll ($8.95) I tried was huge and came with six pieces and was filled to the brim with delicious deep fried shrimp and crab meat. Other highlights included the Hamachi featuring yellow tail ($4.50), the Hirame featuring halibut ($4.50) and the Spider Roll featuring soft shell crab ($8.95).

A regular sushi eater, Armani feels that “the sushi rolls are so big they spoil you for other places.” The sushi portions were generous and all very fresh and tasty.

We sampled several of the Chinese dishes as well. The sweet and sour chicken ($9.95) came out light and fluffy, accented by pineapples, onions and green peppers. An ample portion of rice was served with each dish, and was refilled promptly if needed.

Another star of the Chinese menu was the chicken with cashews ($11.95). The cashews were ample, but not too big, and the sauce was a pure delight. The moo goo gai pan ($9.95) was especially tasty and was the favorite of my dining companion, who orders it regularly.

My personal favorite on the menu is the braised bean curd ($8.95). I have ordered tofu dishes from many different restaurants, and this is by far the best. The distinction is the crispiness of the tofu on the outside and the incredibly moist and chewy consistency of the tofu on the inside.

Pung states that the secret to his delectable tofu is that he buys a softer tofu, which gives it an almost a creamy taste. All of the Chinese offerings were also served in ample portions, and one could easily get two or even three meals from one serving. Needless to say, we had several to go boxes!

Golden Dragon is a must if you love Chinese or Japanese food. The ambience is amazing, the service is prompt and amiable and the staff really go out of their way to get to know each diner and attend to your needs. The food is consistently fresh and delicious and the portion size is well worth the money.

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