Spicy Dragon - real Hakka or not
Before posting about Spicy Dragon, I did a quick search and see it's only come up once on this board, in a thread debating what constitutes "real" Hakka cuisine. I'll stay out of that debate and just say it's yummy food. SD is a tiny hole-in-the-wall in a strip mall at Kennedy and Lawrence. They seem to do a lot of take-out business but they also have a few tables.
The food is a mixture of chinese and Indian. I've attached snapshots of the menu and some of my favourite items - their pakoras (veggie ones and shrimp ones) and their kan shue green beans.
Spicy Dragon's pakoras are amazing. I'd had pakoras at lots of Indian restaurants before I tried SD's, and I've always enjoyed them as long as they're fresh and still crispy (i.e. not steaming on the buffet table) but they never came close to blowing me away. SD's pakoras blow me away. The veggie ones have chunks of carrot, broccoli, green beans and peas and the shrimp ones are packed full of shrimp. Both have a nice level of spice for a whitebread wuss like me -- enough to build up a slow burn and keep your tastebuds alive but not enough to overpower the other flavours. And unlike other places I've had pakoras, the two types taste distinctly different from one another. Different batter, different spices. Big orders (12 pieces each) so you'll want to share with friends.
The kan shue green beans aren't terribly different from dry fried green beans at many szechuan places. I just adore the texture of those and wish I knew how to make them come out that way at home. These ones are meatless, with just spices and a bit of onion and oil for flavour.
They have a variety of other chinese and indian dishes but I haven't tried many yet.
I think the distinction is "Chinese Hakka" vs. "Indian Hakka" - both are real in their own context. I've never had kan shue green beans in an Indian Hakka place. What spices does it have? cardamom? in the Chinese version, the beans are deep fried first. And it's not the kind of greens you get in a regular supermarket. These are much longer, thinner, and denser.
Thanks, Teep. That sounds reasonable. I'm not sure which one Spicy Dragon would be though, since some items were very traditional chinese, others traditional indian and some a mixture of the two.
These ones are the longer, thinner ones like you get in an asian market and done basically the same way I've had them in Chinese places. I don't know if these were deep fried or not, but they tasted the same as ones I asked a Chinese (Szechuan) chef about. I was curious about how they get the unique texture (puckered skin, crisp but cooked insides) and he said they're fried in a bit of oil over a low-to-medium heat then tossed with the spices/sauces. He called it "dry fried" which seems like a misnomer, given the oil. I'm guessing that deep frying comes out similar?
Anyway, these were more Chinese than Indian. No Indian spices like cardamom, just things like onion, chili and garlic.
Well "kan shue" is a transliteration of the Chinese words for "dry fried". It's dry because it's fried in oil first - no water involved, although there can be a sauce added afterwards.
As it serves things like pakoras, I would definitely call it an "Indian Hakka" resto. And even though dry fried green beans is a Chinese dish, it is a northern dish from Szechuan, and not associated with Chinese Hakka, which is from southern China.