Venue Review: Dragon House Chinese Buffet
The Charlotte Observer
My visit to the Dragon House Buffet came as soon as it opened for the day. With buffets, I like to pop in either when the restaurant opens or when the place is busy. This increases the odds the food will be fresh.
Though given the number of staff circling the steam tables waiting to refill pans of sesame chicken, pork dumplings and fried rice, when it comes to freshness you may fare well at Dragon House at other times of the day. The flavors of the buffet offerings were OK. I thought the lunch buffet price ($6.95) was quite good.
Located on Woodlawn Road, Dragon House is housed in what used to be a Shoney's. Steam tables dominate the center and sides of the room. One buffet line holds items for a humongous oval grill.
The Dragon House staff was on top of refilling glasses and clearing dishes - the two service-related things that can drag down an all-you-can-eat experience.
As with most all-you-can eat Chinese buffets, there were plenty of chicken choices. Among the best of what I tried:
Sesame chicken: sweet, but not cloying. The sauce was used as an accent instead of being allowed to highjack the entrée.
Bourbon chicken: I liked the lovely mahogany color. And like the sesame, it also wasn't overwhelmed by sauce.
Among the non-fowl favorites were:
Pork dumplings - Balanced the filling and dumpling wrapper.
Grilled salmon - Do look for this if you go, because the fish flaked with the touch of a fork.
Hot and sour soup - Filled with mushrooms, tofu, sprouts and carrots. The more I ate, the hotter it got.
Dragon House's create-it-yourself grill was nice to see. Diners get to pick up a bowl and fill it with broccoli, mushrooms, green peppers, sprouts, shrimp, beef, chicken or imitation crab (OK, the crab wasn't as nice as the rest).
There were also a fair number of sauces - from kung pao to wine sauce - to drizzle on the ingredients. Kudos to the kitchen: Everything I put in my bowl was fresh. So if you try the grill and don't like the outcome - blame the chef.
After tax and tip, our two meals rang in at $18.69. I'd think twice about paying the dinner buffet price - $9.95 Monday-Thursday and $10.95 Friday-Sunday.
However, the lunch buffet is offered until 4 p.m., so if you're thinking about giving Dragon House a go, the 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. window might be the better time to do so.