We pick up from where we left off with my Johor Bahru (JB) posts…
Today’s restaurant is another Chinese restaurant. A no holds barred, non-halal Chinese restaurant. This restaurant is new to me. New as in, I have seen this restaurant countless times, but this was my first time patronizing them. Today I present to you 龍華 Eastern Dragon Restaurant.
This restaurant occupies 3 corner lots of that row of shops directly opposite KSL City’s main entrance, the one at their Lower Ground floor where all the taxis converge.
The reason I have never set foot in this restaurant before was because, well… I can feel that it is an expensive place, but the shop front looked somewhat dodgy to me. So, between the few restaurants inside the mall, and a few places that were tried and tested elsewhere, it has never occurred to me to give this place a chance.
So why am I now coming here, you might ask? Well, the thing is, last year, a few of my peers, and then a couple of managers came here on separate trips, and they had nothing but great things to say about this restaurant. In fact, one of the manager promptly declared that this dodgy looking restaurant, is the BEST Chinese restaurant that he has ever been to in his life!
Wow! Such a heady claim… that leaves me no choice but to put this claim to the test… And so here I was, finally…
The general consensus of those guys who came here before seems to be that their 北京烤鸭 Peking Duck is to die for, and is a must order. Now, were I alone, I would never have ordered this dish, because it would be crazy for me to consume even half a duck all by myself.
Lucky for me, a colleague flew in from Penang to join me just in time for the visit to this restaurant. Half a duck for 2 persons sounds just about right, so it was time to put the duck to the test…
Things started off well enough. A couple of attendants brought the duck out and carved it in front of us. This is the standard practice for serving a Peking duck. At least as far as Malaysia is concerned. I have no idea if they do it the same way in Beijing.
The crispy skin was served on a plate of crackers, with some wrapping sheets, some greens, and sauce. The leftover carcass with the meats and whatnot, were brought back into the kitchen for further preparations.
I have to admit, this dish is done pretty decently here. The duck skin was the right amount of crispy, and the sauce was good. But after a few wrappings of skin, I had a question repeat on my mind: “This is the best Peking Duck to die for in Malaysia? I’m pretty sure I’ve had better before!“.
I guess I was unnecessarily pumped up with heightened expectations, so maybe my judgment has been somewhat unreasonably skewed. When you expect something to blow your mind away and it turns out to be just… good, you will end up thinking that it is just… so-so. I think that’s what happened to me.
Did I mention that the meats were taken back to the kitchen for further preparations? We were given 3 choices on how to prepare the duck meat. I don’t remember the other 2 options, but we went for 宫保 kung po.
This dish actually made me… confused. You see, In my dictionary, a decent kung po dish is a balance between sweet and spicy hot. At least that’s what I am used to. This guy here, as you can see in picture above, although it is loaded with dried chili, all I could taste was sweet. Super duper extremely sweet, overpowering the spicy totally.
You know what this plate of kung po duck meat reminds me of? Americanized Chinese food! That’s not a compliment, by the way…
I’m confused because I have not had very many Chinese food experience in Johor. I’m not sure if this is a poorly executed kung po dish, or if this is in fact how the Johoreans/Singaporeans love their kung po. So I guess I better just present my observations and reserve my judgment.
I think if I do come here again and I do order this duck again in the future, I’ll probably request them to serve us the meat as it is, without any further cooking.
Okay, so… nice crispy skin, but confusing way of cooking the meat. I guess the Peking Duck marginally failed my test.
We did not just order half a duck for dinner. Let’s see what else we ordered, and what I thought of them.
This grouper fillet was one of their promotional item. We ordered this because of the cheaper price.
We did not finish this plate of fish fillet. The fish was… you know I’m a very insensitive judge of a fish’s freshness, and even I felt that the fish was not fresh. But I feel there’s nothing wrong with the sauce or cooking style with this one. Had the fish quality been somewhat better, I think this would be a very decent fish dish.
The dragon vegetable (pesticide free Chinese chives) was good, it did give me that refreshing taste, just as I expected. I love it!
This tofu dish made the least impression. I don’t remember the name if this dish. 🙄
Oh, yes… I’m sending you to hell with my underwhelming comments thus far, and now I am going to shock you with this last picture of pure premium and expensive-ness: 佛跳墙 Buddha Jump Over Wall!
This is a rich soup made of luxurious Chinese ingredients like abalone, sea cucumber, sharks fin (again, sorry), silkie (black skinned chicken) and some other stuff.
The reason why this dish is called Buddha Jump Over Wall is because it was rumored that when this soup was first created in a restaurant in ancient China, a Buddhist monk living in the inn next door was attracted by that rich aroma, immediately jumped over the wall separating them and gave up vegetarianism in order to feast on this rich soup.
So, is the version here any good? Of course! How can it not be good?! With those luxurious ingredients, even an idiot cannot mess this up! Moreover a chef from a reputable restaurant?
Okay… okay… now that I’ve shown you all my pictures, my overall verdict?
I don’t know, man… I’m not gonna lie. I was not impressed with my meal here. But I did read quite a handful of Johorean/Singaporean foodie blogs, apparently this 龍華 Eastern Dragon is a somewhat popular and very reputable restaurant among the Johor locals. I think maybe it was just the kitchen having an off day, or maybe it was just me not being accustomed to the southerners’ flavors. For all I know, maybe the flavors that underwhelmed me are what makes the Johoreans tick. 🙄
Will I come back again if I have the chance? Based on this experience, probably not by my own choice. I guess I’ll stick to 凯旋 Kai Xuan, halal as it is. But if I am to come to JB again with some of the folks I mentioned in the beginning of the post, folks who thought this restaurant is awesome, then I’ll probably be dragged along here. If and when that happens, hopefully I’ll have a better experience…