The Battle of Yum Cha, Round 4 – Dragons
Well, we’re up to number four, so we’ve been here thrice before. Roll me over, lay me down, and do it again…
Fortunately I possess an insatiable appetite for yum cha, and it seems like the rest of Wellington does, too. Come 11am on Sundays, car-parking around Courtenay Place is diabolical and there are queues of hungry people hanging around restaurant doorways. For the next few hours the volume of green tea being poured in the city outweighs espresso. Unbelievable!
In the course of this review series, Dragons on Tory Street has garnered praise from readers, such as this from Elaine: ‘My favourite. Excellent sticky rice and fried squid. Solid on the dumpling front as well.’ More from Corrine: ‘Probably one of the best in Wellington city,’ and from Ben who says the service is ‘exceptional and friendly.’ Professional food critic David Burton gave it four stars all round in the Dominion Post a couple of weeks ago, having laudably pored over the 16-page dinner menu and sampled several unusual dishes on his ‘walk down the wild side of Cantonese cuisine’.
Our yum cha session wasn’t particularly wild, perhaps with the exception of the dessert trolley. Not since the Cuba Street Carnival night parade have I seen such titillation on wheels. As it shimmied and dazzled its way around the dining room it was nearly run off the road by a train of tray-toting wait staff, plates piled high. Whoa back! Volume and speed of delivery: 4.5 out of 5.
The range of dishes was also impressive, and the quality more than acceptable, overall. Our party of four sampled numerous steamed and fried dumplings, eliciting a 3/5 across the board. The BBQ pork buns rated a bit higher (4/5), for their moreish filling and flaky pastry outer (we didn’t see any of the less indulgent, fluffy steamed ones). Two roast meats – duck and pork – were a little under-rendered for our tastes (3/5). The custard tarts were not overly sweet, which gained them a point rather than losing one (3/5). I confess we let the congee trolley roll right by, but it definitely leant an air of authenticity.
Dragons is a restaurant that feels good. There has been investment in the fit-out, with the interior feeling plush and upmarket, or at least more so than others around town. As usual, the tables are fairly well crammed in, but the staff manoeuvered around with ease and I managed to pick my way to the loos without dislodging any patrons from their chairs. Ambience: 4.5
What’s more, we were greeted warmly on arrival, smiled at by staff, given a polite 15-minute warning when our time was nearly up, and farewelled fondly. Service: 4.
Judges’ summary: ‘Dependable dim sum elevated by kindly customer service and pleasant surroundings’. Total score 3.75/5’