Reviewed by Duhan Veera | 10 months ago
Walking down the Dutch Hospital Precinct, we come across one of Colombo’s oldest restaurants. Started in 1942 by a family of Chinese immigrants, Chinese Dragon Café has pioneered Chinese cuisine in Sri Lanka, offering authentic food refined specifically to suit the local palate. With branches in Bambalapitiya, Mount Lavinia, Wattala, Rajagiriya, Pelawatte and Nawala, Chinese Dragon offers home delivery and take away options apart from dining in.
As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by staff who were energetic, cheerful and smiling. But we noticed how neglected the interior of the restaurant, which was an actual turn off, with chipped walls and ill-thought table setting. But it gives a very vintage vibe especially on the upper floor with Ceylonese windows and timber tables and chairs.
Food & Drinks
NOTE: The Small portion can be shared by 2 and the Large can be shared by up to 4 pax
Deep Friend Prawn Wontons | Rs.678
We were served the wontons for appetizers. The menu displays steamed wontons, but we were served deep fried wontons dripping with oil. This was a really disappointing start. The filling was old and smelled like battery acid. We’d suggest you stay away from this or request them to prepare a fresh batch for you.
Sweet Corn Soup with Chicken & Egg | Rs.368 (S) Rs.533 (L)
Though the broth was a bit thick for our taste, the flavor was on point. The servings of chicken, and egg whites on the soup was ample and the black pepper was the winner of this dish. A definite must try.
Seafood Rice in Banana Leaf | Rs.892 (S) Rs.1292 (L)
We got the rice minus the banana leaf as they had run out. This dish was a simple seafood fried rice; nothing special as all the flavors came in from the other subsequent dishes.
Singapore Fired Meehoon with Chicken & Prawns | Rs.822 (S) Rs.1154 (L)
Meehoon translated in English is vermicelli noodles. This noodle dish was a combination of fried vegetables, chicken and prawns. It was dry, but the gravy from the subsequent dishes just adds the required punch to the dish.
Manchurian Chicken | Rs. 380 (S) Rs. 576 (L)
Coming from the Eastern part of China, it basically translates to fried chicken balls cooked in a spicy sauce. This dish is suitable for those who have a strong Lankan palate looking for spices. The dish had hints of ginger, celery and garlic plus the spice was foreigner friendly.
Hot Butter Cuttlefish | Rs.812 (S) Rs.168 (L)
Apparently the signature dish of Chinese Dragon and being one of the popular dishes in Sri Lankan restaurants, the dish didn’t disappoint. It gives all other hot butter cuttlefish a run for their money. The right combination of spiciness and crispiness, you cannot stop reaching out to the plate. A definite must try if you ever want food from the Chinese Dragon.
Chili Crab | Rs.304 (100g serving)
You might not actually expect Chinese Dragon to serve up a decent Crab, but this was the second highlight of our experience after the Cuttlefish. The ginger, garlic and tomato sauce served, compliments the crab well. It is obvious eating crab can get messy, but this is a mess worthy as the crab just melts in your mouth.
Kang Kung with Garlic | Rs.126 (S) Rs. 184 (L)
This is a normal Kang Kung cooked with garlic, nothing special but you need your healthy greens to complete your dish, eh?
Fruit Juices | Rs.99 – Rs.275
Opting for papaya juice and a watermelon juice, the juices were 100% natural fruit. This is just excellent and refreshing. We loved them without sugar.
Ice Teas | Rs.110
The classic original lemon tea was also a good addition to the menu. It is really value for money and is a bargain compared to other similar ice teas sold elsewhere in Colombo.
Milkshakes | Rs.330
The chocolate and vanilla milkshakes were Elephant House Ice cream and Milk. Nothing special but sweet!
The dishes were served on a Chinese Dragon Café logo tableware. The presentation was simple and kept to a minimum.
The staff ran the show. The whole experience was actually elevated by the staff who made sure the service made up for let downs of certain aspects (neglected interior) of the restaurant. They were really courteous and kind.
Interior & Ambience
This was the critical let down in the entire experience. People would avoid visiting Chinese Dragon Café in Fort due to its neglected interior and mediocre table setting. This needs to be thought through as this restaurant has potential to build a loyal customer base. But do not judge them based on their image, their food and service would make up for it.
The Hot Butter Cuttlefish and Chili Crab were the highlight of our experience. They have a wide range of Chinese dishes and varieties in their menu. With the potential to become one of the best hangouts, the interior and ambience needs to be given serious attention. Lastly, do not judge a restaurant by their image, you may be surprised by what they can offer.