Dragon Castle, Elephant and Castle

When I tell people where I live, I usually say ten minutes from London Bridge. What I don’t say is I’m also ten minutes in the other direction from Elephant and Castle. Alright so I’m a snob. On a few points, I am willing to concede some approval. The comedic origins of the name for example, which apparently derives from an aural mishap with the name of a visiting Spanish princess, Infanta de Castilla. That one makes me chuckle. And it’s also where the legends Michael Caine and even Charlie Chaplin grew up. So on an entertainment level, historically, it’s already pretty high. And since I’ve just found one of the best dim sum restaurants in London there, I’m inclined to shift my whole address a few blocks closer.

Dragon Castle is one of the better names I’ve heard for a Chinese restaurant. The decor is pleasantly charming, a fish pond on the way in, high-ceilings, chandeliers and plenty of light. Details have been thought of. The two times I’ve been the carnation on the table has been fresh and pretty as a picture.

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And I am personally a fan of these cute chopstick holders

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More importantly their liushabao were actually made from salted egg yolks and the closest thing to the ones I had in ShenZhen. On this particular occasion we were rather ravenous and I didn’t always manage to get a picture before we started eating. For the shot of cheung fen I only remembered when we got to the final piece and then the camera went out of battery.

Steamed pork buns

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Vietnamese spring rolls (originally 3 pieces)

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Shanghai xiaolongbao.

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The chef’s speciality and something a little different: a chunk of seasoned seabass wrapped in a coil of crunchy batter.

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Prawn cheung fen, the last piece of three.

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Thai-style chicken feet (deboned) or “phoenix claws”. This dish was for my exclusive demolition, I love it and I get it every time out of habit. If you’re not into chewy, gelatinous things like my eating companion then don’t have it!

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A shot of the table with glutinous rice parcels with chicken, shitake mushroom and even chinese sausage, nom nom!

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Overall the dim sum was good and very reasonably priced. For me, the dishes that were above the norm were the liushabao and the parcels. The seabass was a spot of ingenuity but when we went back for the dinner menu, getting an entire steamed seabass with ginger and spring onion was much more satisfactory (albeit a bit pricier £18). We polished the lot off with a bottle of unwooded chardonnay. Very good indeed.

I’m going to play the expectations game a little bit and say that it’s not a huge step up from Chinatown. But the service was definitely a cut above. Faultless- my wine glass/teacup was constantly being topped up and the dishes were cheap and tasty. The dim sum menu was in both Chinese and English with pictures, which made ordering easier, and when the bill came, it was itemised. What’s not to like?

Notes:

Dim Sum is only served between 12-4:30pm each day, including Sunday, as it should be. This is a good indication that the dim sum is made fresh to order and a lot of skilled craftsmanship goes into making it.

Dinner is served with some light nibble starters of home made Chinese pickle and some roasted salted peanuts.

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