At 7:00 PM on a Thursday in downtown Seattle, expect to suffer a wait for a table at any decent restaurant. Unless, that is, you dine directly across from The Paramount and the current Lion King musical attendees have just evacuated the neighboring restaurants to see that evening's show. That explains how Chris, Ryan, and I ended up at Dragonfish somewhat by accident. Though we were all in the mood for something spicy and delicious, we ended up getting spicy with mixed reviews on "delicious".
As is usually the case, our threesome's hardly immune to the wonders of appetizers. Given we enjoy sampling a lot of food and get to split the costs three-ways (including using the Passport discount via Ryan to lessen the pocketbook crunch), we went all out and ordered four appetizers.
It's difficult for us to eat at any restaurant serving Asian food of any shape and size and not order potstickers. Dragonfish offers Chicken Potstickers with a sweet-hot soy sauce. The potstickers are large, well-stuffed, and offer a crispy (though Ryan was quick to point out "not too crispy) skin. The potstickers are deep-friend, not actually "stuck to a pot", so the texture's different than you'd expect from the usual pan-fried version. They did seem to be a bit on the greasy side, but well-flavored, and the soy sauce was spicy and delicious.
The California Roll includes avocado, crab, cucumber, and masago, but looked virtually identical to the Spicy Crab Roll that contained crab, spicy masago mayo, cilantro, and cucumber. Chris and I literally spent 30 seconds trying to determine which roll was which and finally figured it out when the extra "piece of green" turned out to be the avocado. The California Roll was pretty standard as the most generic sushi menu item possible and the Spicy Crab Roll felt a little underwhelming in its spiciness. For eight pieces each, the $8 each didn't seem like much of a bargain.
For the last appetizer (I actually ate it as my entree), I ordered the Thai Chicken Salad. It was probably the most deconstructed salad I'd ever had and came with two sliced chicken breasts topped with crushed peanuts, chunky slices of cucumber, thinly sliced red onion, and two tiny triple-sliced tomato pieces; all of which sat on two small wedges of head lettuce and shaved Napa cabbage. The entire salad was flanked by large stalks of cilantro and came with the Thai basil dressing (which was a bit too sweet) on the side. The grilled chicken breast was surprisingly juicy, but the salad as a whole was a bit unwieldy. For $10, the portion was on the small side.
In a "which of these things is not like the others?" moment, we also ordered the Madras Curry Cauliflower and Potatoes entree under the Rice and Vegetables sections of the Dragonfish menu. The dish comes with peas, onions, brown mustard seeds, and a creamy yogurt, with plenty of cubed potatoes and florets of cauliflower. Both Ryan and Chris asked, "Can you even taste the curry?" and commented that the dish seemed flat and could have used more salt.
For his entree, Chris ordered the Korean Bulgogi Skirt Steak (one of nine house specialties). It comes char-grilled and served with kimchee and pickled cucumber salad along with a generous portion of white rice (obscured by the flash, but it's on the plate) topped with sesame seeds. He said the skirt steak was "tender and juicy, really well done" and thought the cucumber salad was excellent. However, the kimchee wasn't very spicy and Christ felt it was generally bland. Though he didn't have the same fiery response to his entree that Ryan had, he still enjoyed the dish and said he'd order it again.
The Ginger-Garlic-Chili Chicken and Shrimp entree usually comes with scallions, Napa cabbage, sprouts, and spicy sauce wok-tossed with rice noodles. However, Ryan ordered it with soba noodles as he's not a fan of rice noodles. He did say the flavors were great and that the spicy sauce "burns my lips like a herpes outbreak!" He decided it was spicy enough to share that simile with our waitress and fortunately she laughed out loud. Valtrex anyone? The plating should definitely have sought medical help as it appeared to just be thrown onto the plate and was completely off-center.
Given Chris and my recent encounter with amazing Coconut Ice Cream, both Ryan and Chris decided they couldn't say no to two scoops of the meaty, creamy, conconutty, frosty bovine goodness at Dragonfish. Chris mentioned that the overall flavor was good, but that the coconut ice cream at Zao Noodle House had more coconut flesh and was still better. I think the strength of the coconut flavor was probably a bit more significant here, but did have to agree that overall the Zao ice cream was better. Presentation was pretty limp given they added one leaf for garnish.
Not to be outdone by ice cream, I was told to order the Chocolate Heaven dessert. The "rich chocolate cake with warm truffle center and raspberry-ginger sauce" looked fantastic on the plate. The truffle was, indeed, warmed and mostly melted and the cake had ample, if not overwhelming chocolate flavor. However, even with the rather icy single scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, the cake seemed reheated and nearly lukewarm. As a result, the cake just didn't seem very moist. As for the raspberry sauce, it really didn't add much other than to the presentation.
Overall, I'm giving Dragonfish 3.5 Stars because over half of the dishes we ordered seemed to be lacking flavor in some way and yet the other half were great. Given it's so hit-or-miss with whether or not you'll love what you order, I'd say visit expecting to be pleased but not impressed.