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Nov 6, 2005 10:15 AM

Danforth Dragon: ho hum

  • j

So I finally tried Danforth Dragon last night, for my first taste of Hakka cuisine. I'm hoping I was there on an off night, 'cause it was very, very boring as Chinese food goes. We stuck to the items specifically labelled Hakka, though the menu also features retro specialties like honey-garlic chicken balls etc. We tried the shrimp pakoras, crispy ginger chicken and special Hakka chow mein with special sauce.

The "special sauce" served with the dishes was plain old Sriracha chili garlic sauce. The pakoras were nice and light, but the surprise (to me) was they used itsy bitsy salad shrimp (and not a lot of them...) The salad shrimp reappeared in the special chow mein, which also included thick noodles, chicken and bean sprouts. The predominant flavours were soy sauce and stale cooking oil. The crispy ginger chicken was mercifully crispy but the chicken bits were tiny, and heavily battered.

All in all, I found the food unremarkable, and lacking complexity. The only real heat came from the chili garlic sauce. Perhaps we should have ordered something else. Any recommendations?? And is it better at Federick's?

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  1. Federick's will be better, however if you search you will find a long discussion on this board re Hakka food.
    I have tried 3 recommended restaurants, and have simply come to the conclusion that I don't care for this style of cooking.
    There are many who do.
    I love Chinese, and very much like Indian, but simply don't like Indian-Chinese, or Chinese-Indian.

    1. Danforth Dragon is a very underwhelming and overpriced restaurant. I have also tried Federicks and Lin Garden (Pharmacy & Sheppard), and found that Lin Garden is the best.

      My staples at these restaurants tend to be the Manchurian rice or noodles, chili chicken and pakoras. Lin Garden has the best of these three, with Federicks closely behind, and DD trailing by far.

      I was very disappointed, as I lived close to Federicks and Lin Garden before moving down to Gerrard, and I expected to find at least one decent hakka restaurant. However, there is still hope. There is a hakka restaurant in the "mall" in the Gerrard India Bazaar that I have yet to try. Everytime I try to go, it seems closed. The name escapes me, unfortunately, but if anyone has tried it, I would love to know how it is.

      1. Also tried Danforth Dragon last week and was underwhelmed. Ordered $57 dollars worth of Hakka only take out which turned out not to be a large amount.

        Interesting but not special. Maybe I do prefer a great Indian meal and a great Chinese meal but not in the same container.

        1. This thread was started 1 1/2 years ago. Danforth Dragon has since gone from "ho hum" and "underwhelming" to just plain bad. We ordered three items for takeout from the hakka menu. There was much hyperbole on the menu, but the food didn't live up to the purple prose.

          Best of the lot was the chicken pakoras, described as "Succulent pieces of meat mixed with special hakka spices and delicately deep-fried. An amazingly delicious appetizer. Served with lemon wedges to bring out an irresistibly tingent flavour."

          Chunks of chicken were compressed into balls that may or may not have been battered (we couldn't really tell). It was not at all succulent and the antithesis of delicate. While not "amazingly delicious", the somewhat weirdly spiced dish (not at all hot and neither Chinese nor Indian in style) was modestly tasty when doused generously with lemon.

          Things went downhill from there. The Jeera Beef is described as "Sauteed onions with cumin, dry chilli, green chilli, sesame seeds and green onion". We got overcooked, tough slices of flavourless beef. The dish contained the stated ingredients, but they added little to its boring taste.

          The third dish we tried was the chili chicken. The menu says "Specially selected meat (chicken lightly breaded) stir fried with green chilli and onions." The dish contained tough nuggets of dark meat with a slight chili undertone. I've had food court chicken balls that tasted better.

          The rice was dry and barely edible and the"hakka style special hot sauce" was not in the bag.

          We ate about half of the pakoras. We sampled and discarded everything else. The meal cost about $25 and the portions were generous. But the food wasn't worth eating. Perhaps a generous dose of msg would have helped.

          3 Replies
          1. re: embee

            I agreem D.F. doesn't even come close to the likes of Lin Garden and Federick's (had Federick's last week----very, very good). But when it comes to finding a decent Chinese restaurant on the Danforth, D.F. does a pretty decent job serving up Canadian style Chinese food dishes.

            1. re: Brain of J

              Also agree. The first time we tried Danforth Dragon (a few years ago) it was actually pretty good, but each time afterwards things went downhill. Haven't ordered from them in about a year or so and probably won't again from the sounds of it.

              If only Lin Garden would open up a branch downtown!!!

              1. re: Vise

                I also recently tried DD out of curiousity. The first bad sign is that they needed to charge me 5 dollars for being a few blocks out of their delivery zone. Not nice - 2 maybe but not 5. I found the chicken pakoras greasy and unappetizing-looking. The chili chicken was undewhelming as well. DD was not a good "deal" overall. Will try Fredericks someday but in the meantime will order my chili chicken from SeaSpray on kingston/main - not too bad....