Dragon Castle

100 Walworth Road , London, SE17 1JL

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SquareMeal Review of Dragon Castle

The flashiest show in this part of town continues its flamboyant run. Dragon Castle, hunkered down on the ground floor of a modern building in Elephant and Castle’s unjolly surroundings, exudes a certain amount of large-scale glamour. It also serves correctly prepared Cantonese food rarely seen in south-east London. Amid all the decorative drama, the best choice on the menu is undoubtedly the house-made dim sum (served until 4.30pm daily), and given the price, plenty of it. Readers praise the delicate grilled chive dumplings and fluffy char siu buns. At dinnertime, chilli crab and twice-cooked pork both have fans, and lobster or turbot would make the centrepiece of a banquet; there’s also a commendably wide choice of vegetables. Some believe Dragon Castle’s best days are in the past, and service can be variable, but compared to the value and quality of Chinatown’s traditional options, this is still a good bet.


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5.0

Food & Drink: 5.9

Service: 5.2

Atmosphere: 5.7

Value: 5.5

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Julie T. 14 February 2017

Had an amazing meal at Dragon Castle, everything was so fresh and came out piping hot considering there was 10 of us eating here at the time. The staff were very friendly and helped us choose some food as we had not had dim sum before. Would highly recommend this place and i will be back soon, maybe try evening meal next time.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Gourmand Gunno platinum reviewer 05 December 2016

Elephant & Castle is a depressing enough part of London to go to at the best of times. Exiting the underground station, the eye is confronted with an excess of cars and concrete. Those brave enough to navigate the roundabout can find themselves at Dragon Castle, a cavernous Chinese establishment that has been here for some time. Maybe it’s the best in the area, but it’s certainly not worth the journey from elsewhere. On pretty much all counts, diners can do considerably in either Chinatown or Bayswater. Begin with the atmosphere and, in a nutshell, it could be described as palpably absent. Despite it being a Friday, the place seemed only half-full. Our group was shoved at the back, with virtually no diners behind us. Looking onto the raised stage area at the very rear of the restaurant, it was almost as if we were at a show, waiting for an act that was yet (or never) to perform. The serving staff did little to liven things up. They seemed to operate on a very business-like basis, lacking in humour and performing to rote. Wine pouring and serving skills in particular could have done with some improvement. Onto the food, and it would best be described as blandly middle-of-the-road, certainly in no sense ground-breaking. Several of our group had eaten a la carte here in the past and praised the inventiveness of Dragon Castle, yet none of this innovation was evident in the set menus that we were forced to share (the restaurant refusing to offer a la carte for large groups in December…). Rather, it was like stepping back in time; rewind the clock to what Cantonese food tasted like when you maybe first experienced it in the 1980s or early 1990s, and this is what you get here – think prawn toast, sweet & sour pork, beef in a black bean sauce etc., all doused liberally in MSG. The Szechuan soup was a relative highlight and the vegetables were also generally executed competently enough, but there was little about which to get excited. Admittedly some wine was consumed, but at c£45/head all-in, Dragon Castle could hardly be described as good value, especially given the overall experience.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Grumbling Gourmet platinum reviewer 13 November 2011

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.

Food & Drink: 0.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 0.0

Value: 0.0

neal w. 04 March 2011

When this place opened it had amazing reviews from The Guardian, Times, Observer etc. Now, around three years later, it has slipped into disgusting territory. THIS IS NOT CHINESE FOOD. Even the waitress admitted it wasn't good and said she didnt eat it. It's shameful they can serve this, and its not cheap either. Bland, not authentic, virtually tasteless. Their menu used to be so interesting, now its the usual made up sauces repeated over every meat they have. If you're in this area and want a good, authentic chinese there is one from the Xinjiang province and its called Silk Road, on Camberwell church street.

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 1.0

Tom F. 29 November 2010

“The £11 king prawns in ginger sauce was surprisingly absent of ginger, save for one overpowering mouthful, and the truth is it's nothing special. All of this food is readily available to you at literally any local takeaway joint for a third of the price, and it's not really fair to be charging that much.” Do a google search for EWFBTW and read the rest… I would leave a link but it is forbidden…

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Roger G. 09 August 2010

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. Or rather it was. I went there a few days ago and was shocked by the changes I found. For me, its signature was the ability to present familiar Chinese entrees and surprise with the subtle flavours you could now taste. It was was a revelation. But that seems to have gone. The first clue was the change in tableware and crockery, believe it or not. The next was the absence of the exquisite crispy chicken shreds in garlic from the house platter starter. For my main I went for an old favourite, Kung Po chicken, which previously was a delicately battered confection. Not any more – its now a pile of chewy chicken chunks in a feeble batter. Yuk! Flavour – wise, the sauces are still good as is the service but the spirit has gone out of the place. I used to be prepared to travel many miles to eat here, it was that good but if I want blandly average Chinese cuisine I can get this five minutes from my house – a lot cheaper, too. I fear this was my last visit to what was once the Elephant's finest restaurant – a real pity.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

Christina p. 25 July 2010

i visted this restaurant with a guest on a business lunch. We choice this restaurent as it gave us a false pretence of a presentable and professional establishment, boy were we wrong. We attended around 1pm, the atmosphere seemed welcoming, lovely decor, there were only 3 tables of people including ours in the whole restaurant, so pretty empty, which was not a problem. On arrival , we were shown to a table and given the menu as we sat their deliberating our meal, we were met with evil glares by 2 staff members. Could not tell you what they were thinking but it made me and my guest uncomfortable!! We ordered the food, which came 20mins later (not a problem, esp since it being cooked fresh!) BUT when the waiter brought the food to the table he just threw it down to us, amazement and disgust was an understatement! I had ordered the lobster and my guest a pork and rice, plus deserts the food was well presented and full of flavor and the ONLY good ratings i could ever give for the ENTIRE restaurant would be for the rice dish and nothing else!! During the meal we needed an extra fork, so we called our waiter over, he then looked at us said “you are friends, so share your cultery” what type of service was this!!!??? We were there in their shabby establishment on a business lunch, and we must share? even if we were friends that would not be happening!! We paid £60 EACH for the meal, belive me there was NO TIP INCLUDED!!! i left feeling disguested, belittled and outraged! You dont pay £60 each for such horrible service, i can only hope they go bankrupt! as the way they are going, that will happen very soon!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 5.0

Lori M. 04 November 2009

I'm sad to see this excellent neighbourhood restaurant get so many poor reviews. Can only say that we go there regularly for dim sum and I have found it better than many offerings at a much higher price in Central London. It's not on a par with Yautcha but then where is? Admittedly, the kitchen had a “settling down” period about a year ago when the original superb quality slipped a bit, but recent outings have seen it back on form. We have always had charming service, but I don't know if that's because they recognise good repeat customers? I highly recommend the grilled chive dumplings – and all the usual suspects of course, har gau, char sui etc. Dinner is more hit and miss, although the dishes of pickles and crispy nuts they put on the table are yummy. Their twice cooked pork – while not as scrumptious as it was the first time we had it there – is still delicious, flavourful layers of meat and fat in a succulent sauce with peppers. Also they do beautiful scallops with fried garlic and the chili crab is really very good. Lots of other good things, lamb and chicken in a clay pot. Thier side dishes of veg are overpriced however. Am grateful this is my local as there hasn't been anywhere decent to go since Pizzeria Castello closed a few years ago.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Regina W. 25 September 2009

Even though we booked a table, we still waited over three quarters of an before we got seated. That's a very long time to wait when you're hungry. It's a long time to wait period. Then they got our order mixed up. The waitress was polite but it still took over half an hour before it was sorted out. By this stage, having waited over an hour and 15 mins for food, the food should have tasted fantastic, but it just didn't stack up to previous dim sum experiences. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good, not even to very hungry people (from all backgrounds including Chinese and English). Then they got our bill wrong, but this time the waiter was not so polite. We explained that our order had been mixed up, but he wasn't listening. He was too busy being defensive. We asked to speak with the manager and he said that he was the manager. There was not point in wasting any more time so we paid for more dim sums than we had ordered and just got out of there. I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

RC123 21 September 2009

I've visited Dragon Castle twice so far and am planning a large group visit this weekend because my husband and I enjoyed it so much. On both occasions so far, we've gone during the day over the weekend and had numerous items from the Dim Sum menu. All have been of a really high quality and the service has been absolutely fine (far better than we're used to in other Chinese Dim Sum restaurants, so maybe our expectations aren't that high!). As a fairly experienced Dim Summer, I rate the food highly, the service good and the value for money good.

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