When I think about comfort food Chinese take-out is on the short list. Although I consider myself a decent cook this is one cuisine I just can’t seem to do very well.
There are a limited number of options in the immediate area of my office and the other day I suddenly got the craving for Pork Fried Rice. Having passed the Happy Dragon on E 71st street several times I decided to give it a shot (and write a brief review in the process).
Happy Dragon is located in the standard strip mall setting, has the usual walk up counter, and seating for about 20 people. Per the norm for any place like this the counter is complete with a 4-inch high stack of 11×17 menus and take-away boxes stapled to the wall indicating the size options. Nothing unusual here.
Already knowing what I wanted I just glanced at the menu. Thinking back on it I’m not sure what I was looking for because I think these menus are the same in every Chinese take-out establishment.
I had come in for Pork Fried Rice and that’s what I was going to leave with (I’m stubborn that way). After placing my order, around $4.75 for a small container, I took a seat. Like clockwork my order was ready in about 4 minutes with its cardboard cube packed so tightly that it weighed much more than you would expect given it’s size.
I grabbed a few packets of assorted sauces and went on my way. I forgot how truly awful packaged soy-sauce is. It has no flavor and if you’re not careful you’ll end up wearing some of it when the stubborn packet decides to pop open in the midst of your 3rd attempt at opening it. What I failed to do is take advantage of the bottle of Kikkoman soy that was sitting on a side table. It’s not my favorite soy (that honor goes to San-J) but it’s guaranteed to have some flavor to it.
Back at the office I was ready to dive in after smelling the fried rice in the car for the last 5-minutes. Per the norm, the box was packed tightly and little pieces of rice fell all over my desk as I carefully opened the top. I had to dig around a little with a fork to loosen things up. I was pleased with the amount of pork in the dish as well as the overall preparation, nicely cooked rice and just a bit of that char that’s all but impossible to replicate in the home kitchen. This dish was exactly what I wanted and had craved just a short time before.
I’m glad I ordered the small size because I almost couldn’t finish the order. I tried a few packets of soy (yuck) as well as duck sauce and spicy mustard. All of the other condiments tasted great. Happy Dragon also has hot sauce which was pretty good on the fried rice.
The Pork Fried Rice from Happy Dragon was a solid dish. Compared to other alternatives in the area it’s inexpensive, filling and quick to obtain. I’m going to have to add this place to my rotation of lunch spots in the area. I’m also going to take a closer look at the menu next time to see if there’s anything on there that lures me away from the ever favorite Fried Rice.