Not sure why, but the average review of restaurants in London's Chinatown can range from average (good food, terrible service) to awful (terrible food, terrible service). So I decided to take my mateys away from the throng of central London and go to my family's favourite dim sum haunt, Dragon Castle (100 Walworth Rd, Elephant & Castle). A short walk from the tube station, I've only visited it by day - but in the evening it seems to undergo a slight transformation....sparkly chandeliers, dimmed lights, upmarket chairs and a change of table configurations. The restaurant is modern, large and spacious and they pipe out cheesy pop music (S Club 7 to Jennifer Lopez to Lady Antebellum...this pop princess was very happy indeed). We decided to go for a set menu which looked very good value - starter platter with the usual fare (spring rolls, ribs, prawn toast etc) very generous and not greasy. The second course was the obligatory crispy duck and pancakes (duck was tasty and there were more than enough pancakes for everyone). The final course consisted of plates of stir fry veg, a tasty seabass in soy sauce with spring onion and ginger, chilli beef, prawns with onions served in a pastry case and fried rice. By the last course we were totally stuffed, but very happy that we'd had a tasty, good quality meal in lovely surroundings. Service was friendly and efficient - my friends had their wine glasses regularly topped up with no need to prompt the waiters (by the way the wine portions were generous). The set menu we chose was £23 per head not including drink - a lovely evening had by all so check it out.
(By the way the loos are modern, clean and spacious - you can't say that about the average chinese restaurant loo!)
Wow, where has Dragon Castle been all my life.
Attesting as a Hong Konger their dim sum menu is legit and as is their rice and noodle selection. The lobster I ordered was less than impressive: it was much too small and possibly previously frozen. Admittedly I was silly to have ordered that on a Sunday afternoon.
Walking down from my apartment on Bermondsey Street wasn't too much of a chore. The restaurant is also just a few minutes from the E&C tube station.
I am not sure if it was just because I was having an off day but the one and only time I went to Dragon Castle, I was NOT impressed.
I live in the area and after a long day I was a little hungry and went to Dragon Castle with a friend. When we went in, the interior was pretty nice, but very empty at the same time. It seems like they have a huge space but no one really goes in? There were a few people that came and got Take Out (take away).
I ordered the West Lake Beef soup and my friend ordered the duck over rice dish. My soup was super salty and to me, it was VERY small. But then again, it was just a bowl of soup. My friend was stunned to see the duck had all the bones still intact, silly. Anyway the duck looked decent but if you're not one to eat and then spit out the bones then I suggest you order a different dish.
I don't know if I'll go back. SoCal & Taiwan spoiled me. Chinese food just doesn't taste good here.
If you're REALLY into dim sum (and to be honest, what kind of person are you if you're not excited by an endless parade of fried, baked and steamed meaty treasures) then it might be worth a trip to Elephant and Castle, home of Dragon Castle. I've been nudged about this place for several years by Hong Kong Cantonese foodie friends who describe it as a home from home. Despite its unpromising location, surrounded by condemned tower blocks situated off the bleakest roundabout in Zone One, it is where a lot of expats go for their fix.
The grander than expected entrance opens out into a pleasant space. Location and swift customer turnover aside, they've made an effort to go to town on the interior. Lazy fat carp swim in an ornamental pool reflecting the boarded up walkways of the Heygate estate opposite. It's a hell of a lot of feng shui to lump on a couple of fish, but they stalwartly shoulder (or fin?) the responsibility.
Arriving in traditional plates of three or four items, this is a meal best served family style. If there's not an argument about who hasn't had enough of what, it's not proper. Take a table with the slowly revolving 'lazy Susan' and order a lot: you'll eat it... At around £3 a portion, Dragon Castle is cheaper than most of Chinatown and for a full dim sum blowout washed down with the traditional Jasmine tea, you'll be lucky to top £15 a head between a decent sized group of you.
There's always been debate around whether Dragon Castle has a 'secret' Cantonese menu of local treats, rich in flavour and texture, that they won't serve to Westerners. I've heard this several times, mainly from Cantonese clientele, though on thorough investigation, I've put it down to rumour and the fact that many Chinese won't order from a menu here, they'll simply request their favourites and those will get made.
Those that do hit up the menu will find it vast. Well over 40 assorted dumplings, buns, puffs and braised bits of tendon to work your way through. To get to the good stuff, I photocopied the menu, took a straw poll of several Cantonese team mates, and gave their recommendations to the waitstaff, asking simply for two portions of everything (there were a few of us, 16 to be precise, a lot of mouths to fill with dumplings...)
The steamed dumplings, particularly the prawn varieties, went down swiftly, as did the various baked pork puffs, hot from the oven, sticky glaze attaching to teeth. Various roast pork buns also proved a success, sweeter than expected. Silken mixed Chung fun and belly sticking turnip cake provided a smooth break to the textural proceedings and from the cryptic end of the menu, Crab Pork Little Lanterns were a marmite call. Deep-fried hollow egg-shaped shells with an almost mucous paste inside, sheltering an umami-rich pork filling. I could have eaten them all afternoon, though a fellow diner paused between his mouthfuls of textured chicken foot tendon to describe them as pointless clag. We both looked at each other's bowls and laughed. It's the joy of good dim sum, everyone has their favourites and there's (almost) something for everyone.
I wish I could magically relocate this restaurant and put it right by my flat but alas I have to get the tube here but it's definitely worth it everytime.
Fantastic choice on the menu, a friend of mine is very pally with the head waiter and he seems to be able to order off the menu! Dim sum is excellent here too. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
Great for groups of people as you are able to sample more dishes at a very reasonable price.
Please go here to experience really great Cantonese!
Just four words that are so rarely associated: really good Chinese restaurant! service was freat, food was great and plentiful and prices were decent!
I strongly recommend the pork with black pepper and honey, delicious!
This large, garish Chinese restaurant opened in 2006, and is one of the first symbols of Elephants regeneration. Well, we're still waiting for the rest really but are assured they're coming. We'll wait and see.
Back to the point, this restaurant is really huge with the typical Chinese dragons welcoming you into the elaborately decorated eating area.
It would be very easy to write this place off as another tacky Chinese wannabe, but the thing about Dragon Castle is that the food is genuinely fantastic. The menu features many traditional Cantonese dishes sitting aside Anglo pleasing favourites. They also host special, amazing Chinese New Year celebrations with special menus and events. Check it out before Elephant becomes all trendy and Dragon Castle gets spoiled.
Food does not have to expensive to be enjoyed, sometimes the simplest ingredients can make all the difference to a dish. At the Dragon Castle the head chef Felix Yu has perfected this art to such an extent that it has become one of the best eating houses in Elephant&Castle.
Other than the food, the service is really good because the waiters are knowledgeable and will happily guide you througha vast menus which is full of surprises.
We started of with a cold platter of jellyfish done in sesame seeds and garnished with raw garlic. This was followed by crispy pork with golden crushed garlic which was meaty but not overpowering;the squid was soft and not soggy;the steamed corn-fed chicken in ginger stock was intense accompanied by a sauce containing whitepepper and star-anise.
For lovers of authentic chinese cuisines a trek across London is certainly worth it,but be prepared to look for the DragonCastle amidst some council estates.
It's a good find, this, considering it's not in the most prepossessing of areas (opposite a petrol station, just out the other side of that concrete wonder that is the E&C roundabout) and looks more than a little gaudy-meets-lacy through the windows.
However the atmosphere inside puts paid to any doubts about the place - it's often full (though not quite - it's huge enough for there to always be space for a few more people) and buzzes with a totally mixed crowd. The food is very fresh and the tea is good, all tied together with speedy and efficient servers. I was assured by my partner in crime (that one below me that spent quite some time in China) that it is some of the best he's had in London. I was in a fit of hangover at the time so wanted something comforting and simple - I went for sweet and sour pork. I appreciate this is the equivalent of ordering a chicken tikka masala, but if somewhere can get the basics down, they're doing it right. It was great. The dumplings we had were also very good, with a superb texture which held the szechuan sauce very well.
Yes, I was pleased with the Dragon Castle, not just another Chinese restaurant, and intend to return with a stomach (and budget) set for more of an adventurous meal.
Quite poor. Restaurant was quite cold and very smelly from the off. Starters were fine, and wine was delicious but main courses were gloopy and not particularly tasty. To top it off, a cockroach crawled across our table towards the end of our meal. Whilst this can happen anywhere, it completely put us off the rest of our meal.
Place needs cleaning up. Would not return.
Great dim sum here. Also very reasonably priced. Service is decent and you'll be hard pressed to find any dim sum in south London that is better.
Dragon Castle is a bit of a pain to get to, but once you get there, it serves an impressive selection of Chinese food. Considering they actually had a lot of space, they surprised me by not having carts constantly pushed around to let patrons pick and choose that only a handful of restaurants can do in London.
The quality of the food is consistently high although I have to admit that it's not so exceptional for me to want to make the trip out there all the time. I think it'd be a great compromise if you need to find something between north and south, but for now, it's just not for me.
I went here for a dim sum lunch which ended up lasting over 2 hours and including over a dozen dishes. The quality varied - the soup dumplings didn't actually contain soup (which apparently they're meant to), and some of the items were a bit too greasy, but the XO sauce and the wind dried glutinous rice are excellent. Apparently the dim sum chef changed last year, so perhaps not as great as it was, but I still enjoyed it a lot and it was only £13 a head for loads of food.
Lovely atmosphere with a pool full of koi carp at the entrance. We were accompanied by a baby who was made very welcome by the staff, who acted as an impromptu creche service, carrying him around and entertaining him.
I would like to visit again and try the evening menu.
The entrance to Dragon Castle is rather grand, featuring a waterfall and koi carp. Step through into the main restaurant and you are greeted with a large open room with chandeliers and a classic chinese style interior. We visited on a Friday night and the restaurant was busy but there was still plenty of tables available.
Food was some of the best Chinese that I have had in London, with the Szechuan beef stew in particular bringing back memories of time spent in China.
I must mention that I didn't find Dragon Castle to be quite the super cheap bargain that some of the other reviews had led me to believe, although it is not overpriced by any stretch. A starter and main each, with boiled rice and green tea, came to £20/head with a tip which I think this is good value for the quality of the food.
Overall I would highly recommend Dragon Castle to anyone in this area of London. It is also worth a trip from further afield, as I would rate this above the restaurants I have tried in China Town.
I've been a regular of the Dragon Castle for a few years now and the early reviews were accurate it's a great Chinese restaurant. The food, the decor, the service everything is just a great. A 5-star experience !
Well, I have to tell you about this place!
The Dragon Castle is a huge Chinese restaurant in Elephant & Castle, South London, complete with glittering fountain and tasteful lighting, serving a wide choice of vegetarian food also. Very easy to find - park in Larcom Street, nearby.
Concentrating on the vegetarian menu, the food was extremely good, great-tasting and imaginative. We like their plentiful portions. I would also like to add that I have had cashews a thousand times but never as good as in this place, they literally melted in the mouth. They even serve the rice in whatchamacall-it stacks that keep it warm. We used their expensive chopsticks and found it all very manageable to pick up, except the aubergine. If you want a fork, ask for it at the beginning because this place gets really busy.
We enjoyed just sitting there in that huge dining hall, with its elegant high ceilings. The waitresses were authentically dressed. Plates, service, ambience were all really positive but you know me, it has to taste good for me to write about it.
The food in this restaurant is excellent. We'll be taking lots of friends there, especially business contacts from out of London as its impressive dining at roughly £20 per head for a la carte, which includes 3 courses, no dessert. There are 2 vegetarian menus, we chose the more expensive, as it was only about £4.00 more, with masses more variety.
Pleasently surprised by this place. I was expecting bad food hidden by good décor but the dim sum was better than average and staff and service was good.
Good value on the dim sum too
If you don't live in Elephant & Castle, aren't visiting the market, or don't have a pressing need to get the Bakerloo line, there are few good reasons why someone would find themselves visiting this somewhat careworn part of South London. Except, that is Dragon Castle; it's authentic and excellent value. On my last visit with a similarly fearless trencherman, a spread of a good ten or so dishes, washed down with copious quantities of tea and Tsingtao beer, came to somewhere under 30 pounds a head, probably no more than 2/3 of what we would have paid for the same in Chinatown. This probably explains why it is heavingly busy, catering to a mixed clientele of Chinese and in-the-know South Londoners,
If you're thinking of going for a pint before or after though, my serious advice is to get back on the tube and go somewhere else, as the Walworth Road is very sparse when it comes to nice places.
Authentic, tasty Dim Sum in the boonies. It was really clean too. I've never had bbq pork buns that actually had more filling than bread. Minus one star since I prefer to have Dim Sum on those rolling carts (which they didn't have).
For me, it's the best Chinese resto at this price point in London. Try their chao fan ( served up to 3pm), sweet spicy pork ribs and crispy seafood noodles.
Really really good Chinese food, though it is expensive, I personally think it is worth it as I would say the food is exceptional. They do dim sums at lunch, but you can still order from the full menu too. The full menu is the best bit about this place the food is delicious. Service is great too.
As it's right next to elephant and castle tube it's not the first place you'd look for a quality restaurant. Though this place really does serve excellent, authentic dim sum, far better than ping pong! Make sure you book on the weekend as it gets busy, even though it's a large restaurant, which surely is a good sign.
The quality of food at Dragon Castle can be variable. Some dishes are flavoursome and cooked with delicate spices, whereas others can be tasteless and very greasy.
The portions are generous but by no means cheap (Don't be fooled by it's Elephant & Castle location)
The restaurant itself is smart and large (100 covers+) but very rarely full. Despite this, the service is often mediocre. I have eaten there several lunchtimes, where I have found the service varying between inattentive to pushy (for an additional tip after service charge has been added to the bill !)
Worth visiting if you're in the area. It is one of the better Chinese restaurants outside Chinatown.
One of the best dim sums ever. You will be surprised.
You know, the first time I went to the Dragons Castle. I was a bit sceptical because of the area. Walworth Road to Camberwell doesn't really seem like one of the nicest places to dine. But there are hidden diamonds in the dirt. And this restaurant is one of them diamonds. The décor is fantastic, something you see from a Chinese movie , you'll never expect something so fabulous to actually be somewhere other than China Town. As you walk in, you see a waterfall with fishes in a fantastic pond or low fish tank!! And you are welcomed inside which some ushers wearing their native wear "which you rarely see any more" The staff are fantastic, the presentation of the tables are grand. Now the Food!!!! For the price the food is fantastic, I love the sizzling hot plates, you don't have to wait so long for delicious food, and everything is presented to you very nicely as well. Their Dim sum, is what made me love dim sum so much right now. And their food isn't that costly either. For all this great food, you get exactly what you bargain for, and I have been there 5 times after. I am actually about to plan my friends surprise birthday here.
find Dragon Castle to serve a better quality Chinese food compared to the restaurants in Chinatown. It also helps that it's near our home. We've been there several times and were always pleased with it. The prices are of good value compared to the quality of food and restaurant interior. You could take someone there on a romantic dinner or a large celebration dinner. We usually go there for dim sum and order about 10 dishes for two of us, some beer and chinese tea and end up paying around £10-15 per person. There is a large amount of waiters there and gets busy on weekend evenings. The restaurant actually reminded us of restaurants in China or Singapore with the quiet background music, soft light, chandeliers, and waterfall feature in the entrance hall along with pleasant music playing in the toilets. The toilets are clean, modern and of a higher calibre than other restaurants in London in general.
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