Twin Dragon looks like background in a Tarantino flick. The neon dragon scales and weathered roof give it a certain texture, and the smell of soy sauce and hot oil is literally in the walls. Orange booths and patterned carpet remain from some bygone decade, and the quiet, understated atmosphere is spiked with an eclectic mix of overhead music and kitchen conversation.
The boy and I were ushered to our own side of the restaurant and equipped with hot tea, menus and water. The dishes were listed with names and numbers, though some of the more mysterious listings (like chicken ding) went without description. Still recovering from an under-cooked pizza breakfast and old onion ring lunch, a bowl of soothing egg flour soup sounded good to me. The boy rounded out our order with Mandarin chicken, Cantonese beef and potstickers (he's a delicate eater).
The egg flour soup arrived in a giant bowl and our waitress ladled us each a steaming portion. The thick broth had a mild flavor accented by peas, egg white, chicken and carrots that actually had some crunch. A lot of restaurant soups are pre-made and used over a period of time, making the vegetables soggy and bland, but Twin Dragon's tasted fresh.
"Can carrots be al dente?" the boy asked.
The rest of dinner arrived en masse, the Mandarin chicken's edible bling catching my eye. Canned pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries lay across a pile of breaded chicken glazed with fragrant orange sauce. While colorful, the topping was like a gaudy necklace on a beautiful woman. The chicken was pleasingly moist, crunchy and balanced by the sweet sauce-no decoration required. The beef was garnished only with two thick slices of tomato and slivered onions, and the accompanying "House Delicious Special Sauce" was delicious and special, with hints of mesquite, red pepper, honey and soy. The tenderloins were exceedingly tender (go figure), and we decided the leftovers would make a killer BBQ beef sandwich. Even the tomatoes were good. The potstickers burst in our mouths with the rich flavors of salt pork, green onion and garlic, echoing the elements of Twin Dragon's famous pork fried rice.
Despite my gun-shy tummy, I was able to really enjoy the food and service at Twin Dragon. It may not have the modern luster and fashionable crew of other downtown restaurants, but 20 years in business makes for some tasty, consistent cooking at an affordable price.
-Erin Ryan gets her best ideas from fortune cookies.