Dragon Castle, SE17 1JL
- 020 7277 3388
- Julian Markham House, 114 Walworth Road, SE17 1JL
- noon-11pm Mon-Sat; 11.30am-10pm Sun and Bank Holidays
The huge traditional studded door sets it apart from the rest of the buildings in the area; entry, however, is actually accomplished via the slightly less imposing glass doors set on either side of it. The (fairly large) main seating area is mostly filled with small tables, but larger parties can be accommodated on the raised section at the back of the room.
They serve dim sum until 5pm. According to Ian Fenn on Chowhound, the original dim sum chef left at the end of May 2008 and was replaced by someone else. The dim sum menu also changed slightly; see Kake's photos of the dim sum menu as of May 2009.
Kake, Bob, and Nick have been here for dim sum several times, in various combinations. Most of our visits occurred prior to the change of chef/menu, and some of the dishes we enjoyed then are no longer on the menu (the curried whelks, for example). Others remain on the menu; venison teriyaki, which on our late 2007 visit was lovely and tender, and the deep-fried frogs legs, which on the same visit had lovely crisp, ungreasy batter, and a very tender interior. See Bob's November 2007 photos of the dim sum.
elvum and friends visited for a dim sum lunch in July 2008, a couple of months after the change of chef, and found the food to be still excellent. Chicken, turnip and peanut dumplings were delightful, and the steamed buns with roast pork as close to perfection as elvum has ever come across. The final bill was £11 per head.
Kake's most recent dim sum visit was in May 2009, and was a little disappointing. Neither Shanghai-style pork buns (£2.10) nor Shanghai-style crabmeat dumplings (£2.80) contained any soup (despite being listed on the menu with the Chinese characters for "xiao long bao", or soup dumplings), and the topknots on the wrappers were rather thick. Grilled cheung fun with XO sauce (£3.20) were unnecessarily greasy. Scallop cheung fun (£3.30) were better, though they would have been better still if they'd included the fresh coriander they used to have when we first started coming here. Har gao (£2.60) and grilled turnip cakes (£2.10) were fine.
On the brighter side, the grilled pork dumplings (2.10) were flavourful and juicy, and the roast pork pastries (£2.10) were well-filled and had decent pastry. Perhaps the highlight for Kake was the prawn and Chinese chive steamed dumplings (£2.30); good wrappers that were thin yet resilient, and a well-flavoured and well-balanced filling. Our final bill for the three of us, including service, was £13/head for a total of 13 dishes plus tea all round.
We've also been for dinner, but only once; Kake and doop visited on a Monday night in August 2007. The menu had an impressive range, from the usual Chinese restaurant staples right up to chilli frog's legs and shark's fin soup. We started with pork dumplings, which were very well done and tasted extremely fresh, and scallop sashimi, which included an ingenious little leaf of coriander that exactly complemented the taste of the scallop. Moving on to main courses, the sea-spiced aubergine main course was tasty (somewhat on the greasy side according to doop, but just fine and only to be expected for this dish according to Kake), and the home-made-style tofu was very good and served with perfectly stir-fried vegetables. The poached eel, however, was composed of little mouthfuls of erotic bliss: it's really hard to exaggerate just how amazingly good it was. The service was friendly, and very attentive indeed, without getting in the way.
Kake's verdict: My latest dim sum visit (May 2009) was slightly disappointing in relation to glories past, but on the basis of food, service, and ambience, this is still an excellent option for the area. I'd like to try the evening food again some time.
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