Dragon Noodles Academy serves a fresh take on traditional cuisine. The name provides a clue of what’s on the menu: lobster, which is literally “Dragon shrimp” in Chinese, and they try to incorporate lobster in everything, from their signature Boston Rock Lobster Soup Noodles to traditional dim sum.
The setting is a patchwork of themes; soft jazz plays in the background, while the decor is inspired by the kung fu academies, with hand-carved golden dragons, Chinese red lanterns and Chinese spears. But the main attraction, of course, is the food.
Starters: Tea-smoked bean curd rolls (HK$59) and Sous-vide ginger chicken rolls (HK$59)
The bean curd dish is served cold, covered with a lid to trap the smoke inside. It’s smoky and chewy, with a sweet filling of mushrooms and carrots. The chicken rolls are made of boneless chicken tightly rolled, sushi-style. The sweet, tender, juicy taste is nicely complemented by the crunchy, refreshing cucumber.
Soup: Seafood “tai chi” soup (HK$199)
The soup is slightly overpriced for what it is. It just tastes like corn soup with seafood and wolfberry.
From the Wood Oven: Whole Peking duck served with pancakes (HK$499)
This is a must-have. You might choose to dip the meat in sweet hoisin sauce and sesame paste, then wrap it in a pancake together with cucumber, rock melon, Chinese leeks and pink cabbage. Alternatively, you can dip the crispy, juicy skin in raw cane sugar. A third option is to eat it with mashed garlic. However you choose to eat it, you’ll be in food heaven.
Chef’s pick: Baby cabbage florets with ham (HK$109)
The chef cuts cabbages into blooming flowers, which are (almost) too pretty to eat. The stock, made with Chinese ham and Sakura shrimp, gives the vegetables a sweet, unique flavour.
Chef’s pick: Crispy lobster puff (HK$69 per piece)
The crispy lobster puff has got to be one of the most creatively presented dishes I have ever seen. The food is arranged to look like a lobster, with the lobster’s actual head and tail used to dress the puff, which serves as the body. The dish combines both sweet and salty flavours, as the puff’s outer surface is sweet pastry, while the radish mash used for the filling has a savoury taste. The only oversight was that while the puff was quite hot, the head and tail were cold, which was slightly off-putting. And since the head and tail are not edible, I would say HK$69 per puff is rather an expensive choice!
Chef’s pick: Tomato garlic tiger prawns (HK$169/6 pieces)
These were bit of a disappointment. Despite the fantastic presentation, they didn’t taste as special as I expected. Much like the garlic prawns you can order from any seafood restaurant, the tiger prawns were stir-fried, combining several spices to create an exotic flavour. Although the prawns were fresh, I felt that the dish required a more unique twist, such a different blend of spices, to give customers something new. The result here didn’t differ greatly from the prawns from your local barbecue place.
Noodles: The lobster tail soup noodles (HK$149)
I was particularly looking forward to trying this dish. The presentation was nicely done, but the true essence of this dish was the soup. It had both the perfect thickness and strength of flavour. The richness of the lobster combined with the flat noodles evoked a rustic cha chaan teng given a Western makeover. Wonderfully done. If I had to pick one minor flaw, I would say the lobster meat was lighter than the savoury, juicy meat I was expecting. Nevertheless, this dish is worth the HK$149 price tag.
Noodles: Lobster & shrimp “Lo Mein” (HK$149)
Another success. While it’s not unlike the lo mein you can order from a noodle shop, it is again given a modern makeover to create something original. Lobster meat and lo mein: who would have thought these two could work together? Ten out of 10 for Dragon Noodles Academy. As the lo mein is very similar to the lobster tail soup noodles, I would suggest ordering only one or the other, but trying at least one of them is essential.
Dessert: Flowering tofu (HK$49)
This delicate dessert was a great way to round off our meal. Top marks again for the restaurant. The tofu is sliced to make a “flowering tofu” – a dandelion – served in a sweet soup with wolfberries, producing a fragrant smell and mild, fruity taste. However, while it certainly looked appealing, HK$49 for a Chinese dessert is rather costly. You might be better off spending that money on another savoury dish instead.