One Dragon and 10,000 Soup Dumplings
How could I not know about this place? As a native Houstonian and a frequent Chinatown visitor, it should be my responsibility to know of great gems like One Dragon restaurant in Chinatown. I confess that I'm a little ashamed, but I'm also tremendously grateful that I found about this place when I did.
I found myself venturing out to One Dragon after anguishly battling an intense craving for soup dumplings. My go-to place for soup dumplings has always been Fufu Cafe, but I was wanting to try somewhere new. Enter: One Dragon..
This humble, small Chinatown restaurant is not messing around. They serve Shanghainese food with little English, and lots of flavor.
Of course, I had to try the soup dumplings. They call them little meat packages on the menu. I mean, how could you not order that? So we did....two of them. One of the regular steamed soup dumplings, and one of the pan-fried soup dumpling pork buns.
OH MY GOD. The steamed soup dumplings were good, thin wrapper, a clean and flavorful soup. Simple, delicious, but not extraordinary. The pork was a little too compact for me, and I like the richer soup and thicker wrapping at Fufu's still. But OH MY GOD, those pan-fried soup dumpling pork buns were, on the other hand, PHENOMENAL. I'm not kidding here. One of my best bites of 2016 for sure, and has quickly zoomed its way up on my mental 'Best of Houston' list. Those statements are definitely not to be taken lightly.
I am a huge gluten fan, so I love me some pork buns, but this was totally elevated. The bottom had such a crispy shell, the bun itself wasn't too moist to where it gets mealy, and when you bite into it. THERE'S SOUP. Oh my god. You've gotta be careful with this one because the soup will burst in your mouth and probably burn your tongue and any ambitions you had of working out that day. The pork inside the bun is not too different from the steamed dumplings, but there's enough perfection for this part to be forgiven.
Aside from the dumplings, we had a great braised pork belly dish and a whole croaker with a beautiful tofu sauce over it. The braised pork belly was delicious, although extremely fatty, but hey, you're eating pork belly, you get it. The dark-brown sauce it was bathing in was very salty and slightly sweet. It was actually very similar to the tofu sauce over the fish. While the salty brown sauce was a little overbearing with the fattiness of the pork belly, it worked perfectly with the clean white meat of the croaker. Honestly, you could just pour this tofu sauce over your bowl of rice and be happy....you've got options!
This restaurant has easily become one of my new favorites in Chinatown. With that being said, I remind myself that this is Chinese food, and sometimes it can be very heavy, and like many Chinese restaurants, it can be a little one-dimensional. If you're looking for really strong flavors with contrast and sharpness, you're better off heading to the other side of the beltway for some home-good, authentic Vietnamese.
But as far as Chinese restaurants in Houston go, I think we've found a new winner.......for now.