When most Hong Kongers hear Dragon-i a vision of Russian models and pretentious suits splashing way too much cash on Champagne bottles usually springs to mind – and they’d be pretty spot on. But now the famous club is pulling something rather unexpected out of the bag to entice city dwellers through its doors before the nighttime debauchery kicks off in the form of a new dinner tasting menu for 4 or 6 people that comes at under $200 per head. Being the bargain lovers that we are, we were naturally first in line to get stuck in.
We have to admit, rolling up the escalator to the darkly-lit, empty venue at 7pm on a Thursday night did feel a little bizarre to say the least – definitely not the bustling dining environment Hong Kongers know and love. And there were definitely no Russian models or suits to be seen – yet. Having said that, the dishes on the tasting menu were surprisingly good, staying intensely loyal to traditional Cantonese cuisine with a few delicious twists along the way.
We began with a very traditional Chilled Cucumber and Jelly Fish with Spicy Sauce starter, and while I have to admit jellyfish is one of the last things I would ever order on a night out, the texture was soft and light without the usual crunch that makes me wince. Keeping in line with tradition, we were also served a bowl of Sun-dried Scallops and Bamboo Pith Soup which was surprisingly pleasant in syrupy consistency and refreshingly aromatic.
The real treat, however, came with the serving of Chili Pork Dumplings which were filled with delicious pork and one hell of a spicy kick. Luckily we each had a tall glass of chilled water on hand to chase the chili after each tasty bite. Definitely my favourite dish of the night, it’s worth going just for this.
Moving on to the mains, the saucy Sliced Spicy Beef in Szechuan Sauce really won the table over, continuing our spicy journey, but this time with just the right amount of kick. The Pregnant Women’s Fried Rice (still can’t get over the name) went very well with the beef and came with a fun story too. Apparently, the chef of Dragon-i came up with this simple and healthy ingredient packed dish for his then pregnant wife when she would drop by the venue.
Unfortunately, the Poached Chicken with Root Ginger was not on my list of favourites, mainly due to my dislike of Hainan chicken and its yellowy skin and bone appearance. This dish, however, was enjoyed by my fellow diners who had more of a local palate. The dish of Stir-fried Seasonal Vegetables with Ginger Jus was, however, right up my street and provided a lighter and greener balance to the meat heavy feast.
To round it all off, we each had a bowl of Papaya and Snow Fungus Sweet Soup, which although slightly bland in flavour, did provide a subtle sweet ending to our spicy meal. What exactly snow fungus is does remain a bit of a mystery, and not everyone was convinced of this dessert, and the juicy Seasonal Fruit Platter with honeydew melon, watermelon, pineapple, and kiwi was definitely more well-received.
If you love traditional Cantonese cuisine and get a kick out of a bargain then you should definitely give Dragon-i a try. If you can overcome the initial strangeness of dining in an empty club before the madness starts, then go for it. Whether you go for the 4 or 6 person menu, it will still only set you back $172 each (plus 10% service charge) so it’s worth checking out just for this factor. With any luck, people will catch on to this sweet deal and help spark up the atmosphere, but until then it’s a good place to start your night – especially if you’re planning on making it a big one.
Dragon-i, G/F The Centrium, 60 Wyndham Street, Central, (+852) 3110 1222
Dinner tasting menu costs $688 for 4 people and $1,032 for 6 people