[RESTAURANT REVIEW] Fat Dragon Ups Silver Lake’s Chinese Restaurant Game
Residents of the Silver Lake and Los Feliz area have spent decades waiting for good Chinese food to hit the area. Tired of hearing “Just go to Chinatown,” or “Monterey Park is only 15 minutes away,” we were thrilled when Pine & Crane opened a few years ago and significantly upped the Chinese food game.
Now along the same stretch of Sunset Boulevard, Fat Dragon has joined the party, adding those guilty pleasure dishes like orange chicken that so many people crave, but with a light and modern approach.
This isn’t San Gabriel Valley-style Chinese—spice levels are on the subdued side, and there is no toothpick lamb or braised eel to be found (five-spiced quail is probably the most adventurous dish).
Most dishes are clean-tasting with lots of fresh vegetables, though there are still plenty of indulgent and/or deep-fried choices.
Honey walnut shrimp is almost dessert-like and too rich for just two people, but a few bites of the beloved banquet dish are just right.
Orange chicken is deep-fried like the familiar mall version, but fresh orange slices and a light touch with the sauce keep it from being cloying.
Some less common dishes well worth trying include Dragon fried rice—with Chinese sausage and bacon combined with the unusual addition of kohlrabi—and Pork jowl stir-fry with dried tofu.
Mapo tofu and Szechuan eggplant are both exceedingly solid versions. Mild-flavored Moo goo gai pan and pan-fried noodles include plenty of vegetables, while dry-fried string beans, cauliflower and orange tofu are among vegetarian choices.
The menu isn’t large—hot and sour soup and more dumplings would probably be popular additions. And the Szechuan spicy wontons are perfectly good, but won’t make anyone forget the ones at Chengu Taste.
Crucially, Fat Dragon, which is part of the Sticky Rice group of restaurants, works with a number of delivery services including GrubHub, Caviar and Postmates, so that Holy Grail of good Chinese delivery is now accessible. But the food, especially fried items, is even better when eaten in the restaurant, which has a large communal table in the center as well as tables along the wall.
There’s no beer and wine, but cold brew wild berry hibiscus, lychee lime green tea, and Hong Kong milk tea keep the drinks interesting.
Upscale ingredients and a central location mean a meal for two will run about $50, but the quality and flavor makes it well worthwhile.
At the end of the meal, be sure not to skip the wonderfully crisp housemade fortune cookies, which come complete with fortunes inspired by the lyrics of artists like Marilyn Manson.
Fat Dragon, 3
500 W. Sunset Blvd.