THE CUISINE SCENE

Brenda

Hill


 



The Cuisine Scene
Brenda Hill


David Changs Dragon House
Moreno Valley, CA


I had the nicest surprise the other day. The doorbell rang, and when I opened the door, a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years stood smiling at me.

During our conversation over the next hour, we caught up on our lives, then the talk turned to food. Since she’d lived in the Yucaipa/ Calimesa area for a number of years, she mentioned several of her favorite restaurants, some I’d already discovered, but she raved about David Chang’s Dragon House in Moreno Valley.

Well. That was a siren’s call to me, so as soon as I could, I grabbed Sheila and off to Moreno Valley we went.

Located On Alessandro Boulevard a few blocks east of I-215, the Dragon House was easy to spot with its green-tiled roof. Because of their ample parking, we soon entered the restaurant and discovered walls filled with awards and photographs of the owner, David Chang, with sports, entertainment and political figures, including former Speaker of the House, ‘Tip’ O’Neill.



In the main dining room, a reddish-brown Buddha statue greeted us, then Donna Wilkerson showed us to our booth in a side room of white tablecloths and serene prints gracing the walls.



Donna has worked at Dragon House for about seventeen years and told us David Chang originally opened the restaurant twenty-seven years ago. His brother, Jimmy, acts as manager and cooks along with a full kitchen staff of three cooks, six helpers and seven servers.



Known for their Mandarin and Szechwan cuisine, Dragon House uses fresh meat and vegetables and make all of their sauces in-house, including all of the orange sauces.

Mandarin and Szechwan cuisine, we discovered, differs from Cantonese in that the dishes cook longer and are usually hot and spicy. We discovered that after Sheila bit into a red chili in the Beef with Broccoli. Used to Argentine cuisine, she has no problem with spices, but gulped extra water after that fiery bite. Next time, Donna advised, be sure to extract the chilies beforehand.

But no matter the cuisine, the food was delicious. First, Donna brought a pot of Chinese tea to the table along with a bowl of crispy noodles and dipping sauces. We munched until she brought an appetizer platter of spring rolls, fried shrimp, wonton, and BBQ spareribs. The rolls crunched when I bit into them and the BBQ spareribs, appetizer size, were deliciously red with their special sauce. 



Then she served Shrimp Sizzling Rice Soup. Prepared fresh each day, the soup was packed with shrimp, chunks of chicken, turkey ham and rice. Pea pods, mushrooms, onions, water chestnuts and either cabbage or bok choy were the vegetables.

Already I could understand why they’d won so many awards, but more treats were in store with the entrees. When Donna set the Honey-Glazed Shrimp on the table, I thought the dish looked so appetizing it should be featured in a magazine. Lightly-battered golden shrimp shone in a glaze of honey sauce, and beside them, honey-glazed walnuts topped with Maraschino cherries were almost too pretty to eat.

Almost.



I couldn’t wait to try them. The shrimp were scrumptious with a honey glaze, and the sweetened walnuts provided the crunch. We saved the cherries until last, thinking they would be dessert.

However, Donna brought more dishes for us to try. A sizzling platter was piled with beef, shrimp, chicken, broccoli and mushrooms in a brown sauce. Orange Beef was next, made of slices of deep fried beef sautéed with orange peel and scallions in a spicy sauce. Braised string beans were a perfect complement with a touch of onion, garlic and water chestnuts.



Just as we told her we couldn’t take another bite, she brought their Steamed Fillet of Fish. Totally steamed for the health conscious, the sole fillet was topped with fresh ginger and scallions in a special sauce.

For dessert, she brought their Fried Banana with Peanut Powder. Cut into chunks and covered with powder from the peanuts the cooks crush in the kitchen, I discovered a myriad of flavors and textures. Crunchy from the batter, the banana inside was sweet, and the peanut powder added an extra texture without being overly sugary. Of course, cherries on top added the perfect last touch.



Our feast was only a sampling of their six pages of items. Dragon House offers about nine different soups ranging from $3.75 to $13.95 for the Shark’s Fin and Three Flavor Soup of chicken, shrimp and mushrooms.

For appetizers, diners can choose from Fried Wontons for $3.95 to the House Special Assorted Appetizers on a tray with flame in the center for $9.95.

They offer the standard poultry dishes from Almond Chicken for $8.50 to the Cashew Shrimp for $14.95. In between are the sizzling plates of beef for $10.95 to the Assorted Seafood for $14.50. Bean Curd dishes, vegetable, and pork dishes such as Szechuan Pork, made of shredded pork and water chestnuts, Chinese mushrooms and scallions with hot garlic and ginger in Szechuan sauce for $7.95.

Noodle dishes run from $6.50 to $8.95, and they offer Chow Mein or Chop Suey from $6.95 to $7.95, depending on whether it’s served with pork, chicken or shrimp.

They have a Daily Lunch Special for $5.95, a Weekday Luncheon from 11am to 3pm, and a Weekend Lunch Special ranging from $7.25 to $8.95.

Two Gourmet Dinners, served for two or more range from $11.95 per person to $12.95, depending on the choices.

Sitting back after the feast, I observed the other two dining rooms filled with people. Couples and families seemed to enjoy the excellent food and casual atmosphere. Everyone involved in preparing and serving our meal seemed friendly and eager to please.

I love that they’re open 7 days and have evening hours. I’ll certainly go back. The Dragon House is now on my personal list of favorites. 

Mon-Thurs: 11am-9:30pm
Friday:
Saturday: 11:30am-10pm
Sunday: 11:30am-9:30pm

David Changs Dragon House
22456 Alessandro Blvd
Moreno Valley, CA  92553
(951) 653-1442
(951) 653-0703