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Dragon House Restaurant

Chinese Home Cooking

Though easily non-distinguishable from most other Chinese restaurants in the Richmond, Dragon House possesses hole-in-the-wall charm in its soulful home-style cooking and in its service.

The space resembles a greasy spoon, but Chinese style, with tiled floors and large mirrors giving the illusion of a larger dining room. The only adornments are postings featuring specials in Chinese on the aged wallpaper against windows the length of the dining space facing the busy traffic of Geary.

Still going strong, Dragon House attracts regulars and large families, despite its small space and slightly sterile interior. Two sweet little ladies are the main servers, having served the honest fare since 1982, the year it opened. They know every dish inside out and will make great suggestions if you’re unclear of what to order. After a few visits, don’t be surprised if either server remembers exactly what you last ordered, even suggesting a few other dishes to try based on your preference.

Dishes at Dragon House are reminiscent of ones I grew up with in a Chinese kitchen. Though the cuisine leans more towards Shanghainese with its flavorful and less spicy character, it straddles over to Hunan, Szechuan and other provinces.

An appropriate beginning for our feast was drunken chicken ($5.50), a classic dish in which chicken is first steamed, then marinated in rice wine, served cold. The meat was extremely tender, hinting at the booziness.

Water spinach sautéed with garlic ($6.50) came next. This lovely vegetable, similar to garden variety spinach but with hollow stems, is not on the menu. However, like many Chinese restaurants, if it is on hand, it may be ordered. Another mild, clean-flavored green is the pea sprouts prepared the same way if it is available. Vegetarians will delight in the many options in vegetables such as these, not to mention the bean curd options.

The carnivores in our party willingly tried the delectable braised bean curd, composed of large boxes of bean curd skin enveloping soft bean curd inside ($5.50), simply braised with ginger.

We had some difficulty making a decision amongst the large variety of seafood and meat dishes. The deep fried Gen-Gian spareribs ($6.50) called out to us. Its delicious thick glaze is slightly reminiscent of sweet and sour pork, only much more complex and less sweet in flavor. We paired this dish with simple sautéed shrimp ($6.50), marinated in rice wine, with a subtle ginger accent.

Instead of white rice, we opted for Yang Chow Fried Rice ($5.25), named after the province in which it originated. A heavy-handed pour of soy sauce doesn’t exist here, so the clean flavors of this dish are brought out in its components -- eggs, green onions, Chinese sweet sausage, shrimp, cabbage, and peas and carrots.

With large portions at great value, Dragon House is a little treasure that we will be frequenting often. Be sure to bring a big group to experiment the many tasty dishes. And if you’re hankering for something different than what’s on the menu, rest assured that the trusty server will guide your appetite in the right direction.

$ (Cash Only)

Reservations Essential? No