The chefs at Jade Dragon picked up a number of tricks in their homeland of Hong Kong. This explains why their fried shrimp is so delightfully crispy, why their tofu is always steamed to perfection, and why their hot-and-sour soup strikes a perfect balance between its flavors. Jade Dragon doesn’t stick to food from Hong Kong, however. Many of the restaurant’s most popular dishes hail from the mainland, such as the savory lo mein noodles and fiery Szechuan beef. Added doses of authenticity come from the vivid Asian artwork on the dining room’s walls and the actual dragon that fuels the kitchen’s ovens.
Joe Chow immigrated to America from his native Taiwan in 1979. He set down roots in Addison, where he eventually made a name for himself as the city's mayor and the owner of May Dragon. In the kitchen, his veteran chef Mr. Phung concocts more than 130 dishes using all-natural ingredients, only small amounts of oil, and no MSG. The menu's resulting bounty of Peking-style slow-roasted pork, five-flavor shrimp, and crispy duck inspires loyal regulars and a cavalcade of celebrities, including culinary star Martin Yan and martial-arts expert Chuck Norris, to frequently stop in for an authentic meal.
When not at work meeting with constituents or willing laws into existence, Joe proudly oversees his establishment as an embodiment of the American dream, inspiring patrons to follow their own desires, ensnare them, and keep them as pets. He warmly greets visitors with friendly hellos and attentive service and encourages his staff to treat guests with the same infectious hospitality. The restaurant itself exudes a warm, welcoming atmosphere, with Chinese artwork lining the walls and luxurious amenities?such as a separate banquet room with massage chairs and karaoke machines?populating the refined, architect-designed space.
Within the sight of diners at an open kitchen bar, doughy wrappers are stuffed with savory fillings by the practiced hands of Royal China's "dumpling ladies." In Yu-Xia Zhong's hometown in northeastern China, everyone knows how to make dumplings—young, old, male, female—because the jiaozi make up the main part of the region’s diet. And before Hwa-Juan Shen and her husband immigrated to the United States, they owned a restaurant in Shanghai where she perfected her dumpling-making technique. The women join forces at one of Dallas's oldest Chinese restaurants, where they churn out the specialty dish, xiao-long-bao, also known as soup dumplings. They hand-stuff each tiny envelope with pork, chicken, shrimp, or vegetables before steaming them.
Royal China opened in 1974, a joint venture between a retired Chinese army colonel and attaché and a Taiwanese chef. Many of the restaurant’s original customers continue to fill its tables in search of both traditional and inventive Chinese fare. While one staffer hand-pulls noodles to make the city of Lanzhou’s signature soup, another bedecks wontons with shrimp, avocado, and Asian mustard to make the house's version of tostadas. The chef’s specialties include a classic, Beijing-style crispy duck and a seafood hot pot reminiscent of the jacuzzi at King Triton’s castle. Though the kitchen may present a blend of new and old, the restaurant itself is fully modern—the Dallas Observer named Royal China's 2008 renovation the Best Iconic Eatery Makeover.