House of Dragon

With so many Chinese restaurants in town, how do you choose the best one? In our case, it was location + the word Dragon in the name. Rawrrrr.

On our first serious search for good Chinese food we ended up at House of Dragon on N Lancaster, between Walmart and Silverton Road.

Since that first visit, we have been there again and again to where now when we enter, the hostess asks, "Would you like your booth? Do you want a menu or are you here for your usual dinner?" One time The Chef and I stopped in for take out and the hostess asked, "Where's your daughter?"

Uh, oh. We're either in a rut or we know a good thing when we eat it. I vote for the latter.

I must add at this point that we have tried several local Chinese restaurants as well as all of the Chinese buffets in town, and House of Dragon is still our first pick.   

We haven't yet tried everything on the menu, but here's a rundown of what we love:

Parchment chicken a little oily, but tender pieces of dark meat marinated with perfect teriyaki flavor

Ginger beef Pungent shreds of ginger stir fried with tender strips of beef, not so spicy my wimpy mouth complains, but not so mild I have to pick through the dish to find the ginger. For some reason I never have enough left over to take home for tomorrow's lunch.

Beef Lo Mein

Lo Mein, any meat Noodles cooked al dente, fresh vegetables, tender strips of chicken/beef/pork (we have tried all three and beef is our favorite). The Teenager orders this every time. I think she dreams about noodles between visits to House of Dragon. On our most recent visit, I tried to go outside my usual habit and ordered the General Tso Lo Mein, spiciness=mild. It was good, but way to spicy for my wimpy mouth. They kindly replaced it with the regular General Tso Chicken. Our family favorite.

General Tso Chicken The Chef doesn't even really have to look at the menu because he orders this every time. He likes it with medium spice, but is asked every time just in case he feels adventurous (or timid.) I love the spicy-sweet sauce and the big spears of bright green steamed broccoli. (I sneak it off his plate when he's scooping up some of my ginger beef.) How often can you find perfectly cooked and seasoned vegetables in a restaurant? How often do people go to a restaurant because they’re craving vegetables? (After you read our review of Almost Home, I hope you realize that we had a weak moment that night in terms of making healthy food choices and that we actually do order vegetables when we go out to eat.)

Since we get at least one order of this every time, I have to stop and tell you an amusing story about this. The Chef recently has had some health issues forcing him to modify his diet a bit. One thing he had to stop eating for a while was broccoli. During this time, The Teenager and I stopped in to pick up some takeout. (“Where’s your husband?”) Since he loves vegetables, we asked if we could order the General Tso Chicken and substitute the broccoli for another vegetable. After quite a bit of discussion about this, The Teenager and I came to realize that the broccoli is strictly put on the plate as a decoration, and that if we wanted different vegetables to eat, we could order a veggie stir fry. End result: General Tso Chicken with broccoli garnish, plus a vegetable stir fry. The Teenager and I gobbled up the broccoli when we got home and The Chef was happy with the stir fry.

Pork Fried Rice and General Tso Chicken

The picture above is Pork Fried Rice in the foreground and The Chef’s General Tso Chicken in the background. Look at that gorgeous broccoli.

Pork Fried Rice – I’m drooling as I write this. Last time we were there, The Teenager and I split an order of this to go with our other entrees, and since we love leftovers we were hoping to enjoy the rest over lunch the next day. Sadly, as we fought over the last forkful we realized we would have to make other plans for tomorrow’s lunch. Actually, I ordered it as a trick which backfired; The Teenager doesn’t usually like fried rice.

Jasmine Tea - I know you get hot tea at nearly every Chinese restaurant, but there's something homey and comforting about the tea here. Maybe it's because I can smell it as it's poured? Maybe it's because we feel so much at home here that it's just the association between the jasmine perfume and warm feeling in our bellies from dinner.

Of course, any visit to a Chinese restaurant isn’t over until you’ve opened your fortune cookie and read what fate has in store for you. We like to finish all of our fortunes with the words “with a chicken.” When you contemplate your next Chinese dinner, either dining in or with takeout, may our recent fortune cookies guide you:

You will reach your goal if you maintain your course with a chicken.

You will be successful through determination and innovation with a chicken.

Life is a series of choices; today yours are good ones with a chicken.

House of Dragon
3305 Lancaster Dr NE
Just south of Silverton Rd, across from Starbucks and Little Caesar’s Pizza
(503) 581-3017


9 comments:

Chuck Bradley said...

Question? Is the General Tso Chicken made with all white meat, all brown meat, or a combination of both?

It has been years since I tried this place. (Since I closed my store in Oak Park Plaza in 2001) Your excellent review has peaked my interest once again!

jeff said...

I wondered what was going on there for a second... General Tso's has never had broccoli at any of the restaurants I have eaten it at. I'd be very unhappy if it unexpectedly did, actually.

I hate broccoli.

Amecameca said...

Sorry Pam. Salem has no real Chinese food for the simple reason that there are not enough Chinese people here. What you describe is all Chinese-American food. To get real Chinese food you have to go to Portland. 82nd street is the new "Chinatown." Try Ocean City, Shenzhen, and Good Taste Noodle House. It's worth the drive for real Chinese food.

I did have have breakfast at the House of Dragon once and enjoyed some Hawaiian style pork fried rice with a fried egg on top. It was good. The meat had a good smoked flavor. I don't know if they still have that on the menu. It made me wonder if the owners are from Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

On authentic Chinese food:
"... They and their family, however, do not eat egg fu yung: '"What would happen if we sold this?" Mui reflected, stir-frying a village dish of liver, dried squid, spring onion and salt ham. "We would be out of business next week, that's your answer," Chen said.' And thus the thought entered my girlish brain: some people eat liver with squid."

Pam said...

Ok, ok, so that's a technicality. Amecameca and Anon, you are correct. But it was just too wordy to refer to House of Dragon as "American Style Chinese Restaurant." Or "Restaurant with what Americans Think is 'Chinese' Food." You get my point. :o)

BTW, we LOVE eating along SE 82nd. And we shop at Fubonn market. And Win Wa, which is right behind House of Dragon. And A Dong. No, we are not Asian, but we know a good thing when we see it.

Jeff, you can ask for no broccoli and they will leave it off.

There is still a Hawaiian section on the menu.

As for General Tso being white or dark meat, I believe it is very tender white meat. But I could be wrong. All I know is that it tastes good, we never feel the "Yuck I ate too much" bloat afterwards, we love the waitstaff, and my hands don't swell up the next morning (some "American Style Chinese Restaurants" will do that to me. Yes, I know the culprit.)

Anonymous said...

If you want really good chinese food close to Salem you have to go to Johns chinese cusine in Keizer. Its definetly worth the trip. The standard Chinese American dishes like orange chicken, sweet and sour chicken, and general tso chicken are good. If you go for the dishes that aren't deep fried like the special chow mein, kung pao, and spicy mushoom chicken there excellent. One trip here and youll see what chinese food should be. Definetely comes close to the food that youll find in most places san fransisco.

Chuck Bradley said...

At your kind suggestions, she who must be obeyed and I trotted out to the House of Dragon for lunch today. I must say it is better than I remembered. My bride had Grilled Garlic Shrimp Scampi ($9.75) which had a wonderful garlicky-smokiness. (I pilfered one!) I had Mandarin Chicken ($8.75) and a cup of Hot and Sour Soup ($1.75) both were very good, but somewhat different from dishes with the same name elsewhere. This was Tempura battered chicken breast strips in a thick red sauce that to me seemed to be sweet and sour. It was much sweeter and less spicy than I expected. The soup contained tiny egg noodles, which was a first for me. Both dishes came with fried rice. The place was clean and welcoming and our server was pure delight. The chef even came out and visited each table to be certain everyone was pleased with their meal. We found this spontaneity and friendliness refreshing. Worthy of mention is that the restaurant was mostly full at 2:30 PM. Thanks for the tip. It paid off nicely.

Pam said...

Glad you liked it Chuck.

We had takeout from here last night and I did notice that the General Tso Chicken was dark meat. The takeout didn't include broccoli. :o(

When I arrived at 7:55pm to pick up my order, the parking lot was full, and 2 other parties arrived for takeout as well. Busy place.

The Chicken Lo Mein and Pork Fried Rice are still a heavy addiction shared by the Teenager and me.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I went there yesterday for the first time and was pleasantly surprised. It was a wild card pick, but we had driven past the place numerous times on the way home and we finally decided to give the place a try. I'm glad we did.

As already expressed, there is a lot of Chinese restaurants in Salem already, may of which we have tried. House of Dragon really stood out, great atmosphere, very friendly service, good menu selection and most importantly great food.

They have put their own slight spin on most of the dishes, as the food is of a higher standard than most other Chinese restaurants, with good sized portions.

I will certainly be going back there, as House of Dragon will be our new regular pick for Chinese food in the local area.