Real Japanese ramen are a fantastic alternative for the noodle soup lover who wants a change from pho or every other variety available in Vietnam. And Dragon Noodle is sure to become a destination for those hunting for this scrumptious soup. They’re open from 11am until 1am making it a convenient place to find sustenance for the lunch, dinner, and after-drinking crowds. The place is modestly sized with only five tables and a long, high counter that runs along one wall. It’s a pleasant place for a casual meal or to have a bite alone, and fills quickly for the dinner rush right around 7pm. It has pleasing décor and big band music being played only slightly above ambient levels. The small bar offers an impressive selection of hot and cold sake to choose from as well.
There’s plenty on a menu that includes set lunches, hot and cold starters, rice dishes, stir-fry dishes, sweet and sour dishes, and, of course, ramen noodle soups. There are four types of soup bases to choose from: soy sauce, salt, miso and tofu. The starters range in price from VND28,000 to VND68,000, and the soups from VND128,000 to VND168,000 and offer a variety of meats and vegetables in them. For an additional VND20,000 you can super-size your soup. There are also a variety of toppings available at a nominal charge including bamboo, sprouts, corn, eggs, bok choy, kimchi, seaweed and scallions.
Pan-fried gyoza dumplings and roast pork in a soy sauce based soup, being tried and true favourites, provided an excellent base line to assess Dragon Noodle. The pork-filled gyoza came six to an order and were tasty, but a little soft and oily. Using the vinegar and soy sauce dips helped to neutralise their oiliness. To help whet your appetite and accompany your meal there are jars of pickled garlic leeks on every table and all along the counter. They’re sautéed with chilies, which gives them a kick and intensifies the desire to have more.
The soup was a huge bowl of noodles with sand dollar sized slices of tender, succulent pork soaking in the soy sauce broth. A stalk of bok choy and half a hard-boiled egg were not simply garnish, helping to beautify the presentation. The addition of a few dollops of spicy oil made the meal perfect. The pork was nothing short of spectacular in both taste and texture and the salty broth induced non-stop salivation. The bonus came upon the discovery of crunchy pork rinds hiding in the broth. Finding one after another became an unexpected source of fun during the meal.
Apart from the soup coming far too quickly after the gyoza, the only disappointment was that they were out of the mango pudding dessert. I’m convinced it was a ploy to lure me back for another meal. It was completely unnecessary. I’m already going back.
Pan-fried gyoza dumplings - VND58,000
Roasted pork in soy sauce soup - VND168,000
Sapporo Beer - VND38,000
Atmosphere : 9
Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15
13 – 15 extraordinary to perfection
10 – 12.5 very good to excellent
8 – 9.5 good to very good
5 – 7.5 fair to good
0 – 4.5 poor to fair
The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals