Dragon Bowl Asian Bistro (**½)

Posted on July 1st, 2006 in Houston,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy

Dragon Bowl Asian Bistro

1221 W 11th St

Houston, TX 77008

(713) 426-2750

http://www.dragonbowlbistro.com/

Dragon Bowl Asian Bistro is a new restaurant at the edge of the Heights, at the intersection of N. Shepherd and 11th. We’ve been watching them build out the space for it in the strip center and have been anxiously awaiting the opening of another nearby food choice. It finally opened recently and today we finally made it in to try it out.

All three of us got bowls, and they were pretty good. Mine was shrimp, vermicelli, assorted veggies in a citrus sauce and it was quite tasty. I had steamed dumplings as an appetizer and they were okay. The rest of the group liked their food as well, but there were no raves.

There were two issues that detracted from the dining experience. The first is that we waited over 30 minutes from the time of our order until the food was ready. I can understand that a new kitchen won’t operate at peak efficiency for a while, but that seemed a bit overlong for the simplicity of what we ordered.

The second issue was that the menu had been pared down quite a bit to match what the new kitchen was capable of producing, but even the reduced menu was overstating what they could deliver. I first ordered the tempura shrimp appetizer, and was told they weren’t currently making that. I then ordered the fried dumplings and was told they could do steamed but not fried, which didn’t make any sense to me as the obviously had the dumplings to steam and their open kitchen showed plenty of woks with oil for frying.

There were also a lot of grumbling, unhappy patrons waiting around for their food. The place is pretty small so some of them tried to engage us in the camaraderie of their shared conversation about how slow the place was, but we were giving the kitchen the benefit of the doubt seeing that it was so new, and demurred from joining into the dis-fest.

However, I will say that I agreed with their opinions, even if I felt it impolite to blather them about a small restaurant within earshot of the busy crew working in the open kitchen. Having been peripherally involved in the restaurant business I can say that their kitchen is both overstaffed and overslow, and a single well-trained chef with maybe one assistant could have produced all the food much faster than the 4-5 people they had bouncing around back there like pinballs.

The bottom line was that the food and prices were at just about the right place for us to keep Dragon Bowl on our radar, so we plan to check back after they’ve had time to work out the kinks. But for now we’re not paitent enough to beta-test this new restaurant.

Update 8/22/2006

We went back to DBAB today for lunch, and there was much improved efficiency in the preparation and delivery of the food. The menu is still quite sparse, and while the ingredients are very fresh and plentiful, they still don’t quite have the….pizzaz…to put this place higher up in our rotation. We’re rooting for them, because they’re convenient and use good ingredients, and we’re crossing our fingers that they get it all together and become successful before the money runs out.

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