Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Jason Perlow

Dragonel in Hackensack (CLOSED!)

Recommended Posts

NOTE, as of 4/05: DRAGONEL AND DHABBA ARE CLOSED

EDIT, April 28 2005: Both Dhaaba and Dragonel are now closed. A new Indian restaurant in the same location is to be opened in May '05.

Many of you are probably not familiar with Indo-Chinese food -- we've discussed it, to some extent on the site, but for the most part its a cuisine that hasn't really made its way to the US. But in India, this form of Chinese food is very popular.

Finally, North Jersey gets its own Indian Chinese restaurant, in the form of Dragonel, a 1-month old eatery in downtown Main Street in Hackensack. This restaurant looks like something that is more in place in artsy Greenwich Village than NJ -- red textured stucco walls, interesting mood lighting and ultra modern decorations.

Rachel, Ya-roo and I happened upon this place by accident this evening, as we were headed toward Wondees, a thai restaurant down the street. -- when this place caught our eye.

Dragonel is owned by the same people who own Dhaaba, an Indian (and actually quite good) restaurant next door, and they share the same kitchen.

The menu features some really, and I mean really spicy dishes (dont bother to order this extra spicy unless you're Indian, because this place serves an Indian clientele) with a focus on vegetarian cooking. They have some really great meat and fish dishes as well.

Dragonel Menu Page 1 (Hi-res)

Dragonel Menu Page 2 (Hi-res)

The menu has sort of a whimsical tone to it, with sections named like "Tempting Tureen", "Memorable Morsels", "Fowl Play", "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Porky Pig"

Dishes of note:

Szechuan Paneer: This is deep fried paneer cheese treated like bean curd tossed with a mixture of indian and chinese spices in a tangy sauce. Excellent.

Crispy Chili Potatoes: These are shoestring potatoes, flash fried, tossed in a chili sauce. Amazing. VERY SPICY.

Home Style Chili Chicken - VERY SPICY. Cubed chicken in a similar sauce to the chili potatoes, but thicker.

Kongee Crispy Lamb -- Shredded crispy lamb with different kinds of peppers, onions in a sweet and tangy sauce. VERY SPICY.

All the mains were served with steamed long grain basmati rice in bowls, which was ideal for mopping up the really spicy sauces that went with these dishes.

I cant stress how much I liked this place. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say its probably going to be one of the hottest asian restaurants in the area before long.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jon Lurie and I had another great lunch at Dragonel today.

Highly recommended is the Tom Yam Soup, which is actually considerably spicier than the Thai version.

We also had the Corn with salt and pepper appetizer, which was just essentially fresh corn kernels with scallions that has been deep fried and salt and pepper added -- a really remarkably good, albeit simple dish.

In addition to the Kongee Lamb and the Crispy Chili Potatoes dish which we had again on this visit, we had the Szechuan Chicken, which had a good amount of sichuan pepper flavor as well as a lot of different Indian spices in it.

I find Indo Chinese food to be sweeter, tangier and spicier than most chinese regional cusines -- some people might get put off by this but I find it to be an interesting and refreshing change of pace.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jason:

How does this place compare to the Indian Chinese places down here in central NJ?

brian, can you name a few of these places? I'd love to try this cuisine, as I am a fan of thai, chinese and Indian, but never fused together, and would appreciate a more local place to experiment. I know you are a fan of te Iselin/Edison Indian Route 1/ Old Post Food corrider..where would you suggest there?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kim and Jason:

There have been a couple of Indian Chinese places open the whole time I've lived here (2 1/2 years) but it seems to have really taken off this past few months.

I'm going to reccomend 2, both in strip malls on Oak Tree Road. Ming, is the most serious of them and works hard to have the feeling of a Manhattan fine dining restaurant. They have a wine list. Their official address is 1665 Oak Tree Road, Edison, NJ and they're owned by the same people as Moghul, the Indian restaurant next door.

Chopsticks, across the street in the same mall complex as Blockbuster and Panchvatee is a newer takeout shop with a couple of tables for eating in. Some people absolutely love the huge, flat-screeen TV playing Indian music videos and can sit there for hours.

In their own ways, both are worth a trip.


Brian Yarvin

My Webpage

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Brian....they're on the list..perhaps lunch next week.

Kim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The visit on the 4th was actually my first visit to Dragonel. Frankly, I might go even a step further than Jason and suggest that this restaurant potentially could be one of the hottest restaurants in the area, not just one of the hottest asian restaurants.

Frankly, being there for lunch, I say this in ignorance of the actual dinner crowd, so maybe the word "best" should replace "hottest".

Personally I didn't find it overwhelmingly spicy. What I did think was that it was litterally exploding with some fairly unique flavors and textures. The "Crispy Chili Potatoes" was actually more like "Crispy Tamarind Potatoes", but that's not a bad thing. The "Corn Pepper Salt" was just remarkable. They way they were deep fried you'd expect them to have popped, but instead they sort of become crispy on the outside and soft in the middle--a presentation of corn I've never seen anything even remotely like anywhere else. The "Kongee Crispy Lamb" is really really cool, with a texture that's very unique for such a "meaty" dish, and a balance of sweet and spicy that's different than both "normal" Chinese food and most Indian-food variants which make their way to this area.

Like the places discussed by BrianYarvin, Dragonel also has a very upscale Manhattan feel to it, and the actual food matches that "feel".


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went for dinner early this evening and had the panfried fish-

It was excellent-as pointed out by others the sauce is a bit sweet-

I will definitely go back and try some other dishes.


Edited by jpr54_ (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I notice Jason and I both forgot to post about was the rather simple yet interesting dessert we had at Dragonel--a smooth creamy vanilla ice cream, with a very interesting addition.

You know those fried noodles that Chinese restaurants give you to add to soup? Okay, now imagine them coated with honey and slightly refried. Now garnish ice cream with them.

Simple, yet effective.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

receives a "good" in tomorrow's NYT.

i thought the food was overly sweet. i'm hoping it was just my selections, as i want to like this place.

the salt corn was fun and delicious.

the pan fried fish was good, but sweet. the sweetness would have been completely bearable, and acceptable, had it not been for the next two dishes, which were also sweet.

fried cauliflower was really good, served in a sweet chili sauce.

sichuan style chicken was drowned in gloppy sweet sauce. had the sauce been drizzled on the dish i would have been much happier.

i'm hoping the trend here isn't sweet gloppy sauces drowning meat and vegetables. if so, i'm not going to like this place as that's not my thing.

i'm looking forward to more reports so i can order a bit better.


Edited by tommy (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really? Just a Good? David seemed pretty jazzed on the place. I thought it was going to get a VG for sure.

Tommy: I agree some of the food is sweet -- they have dishes that are tangier and spicier. The cuisine as a whole however, is sweeter than what you might be used to.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The cuisine as a whole however, is sweeter than what you might be used to.

where is this stuff from? do people actually eat this sweet gloppy stuff in some part of the world?

i don't mind sweet foods. i think some american-thai dishes are quite sweet. however, i'm used to a bit more balance with acidity/heat than what i saw here. and, more importantly, the dishes seemd *over*-sauced.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The cuisine as a whole however, is sweeter than what you might be used to.

where is this stuff from? do people actually eat this sweet gloppy stuff in some part of the world?

Its largely from Kolkatta (Calcutta)


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally got to Dragonel this past Friday (July 30). What a different and delicious meal. Had the hot and sour soup; corn with salt and pepper; Kongee crispy lamb; Schezwan chicken; garlic crispy noodles with shrimp; and the eggplant dish.

The Schezwan chicken was sweet but it worked well with the other dishes. I also went in with the knowledge (from Egullet , of course) that some of the dishes were sweet in nature.

For dessert had the vanilla ice cream (their only desset)- one plate topped with lychees and the other topped with candied walnuts! - Yum!

Spoke to the owner, Andy, and told him that we also love Indian food (and that my wife made some "mean" lamb chops). He brought us some lamb chops from his place next door (Dhaaba) to sample. They were fantastic. Marinated with some indian spices and then cooked in the tandoori oven. Tender and flavorful. Some of the best I have ever had anywhere. This was after we had finished dessert! What a great post-dessert treat! We will definitely be checking out Dhaaba very soon.

The prices are very reasonable too. It is BYO too- so in terms of value this is the best place I have been to in the last year. Service was a little choppy to start but once we got going everything smoothed out.


Edited by GoodEater (log)

GoodEater

Vivo per mangiare!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tonight Rachel and I went to Dhaaba, the Kolkatta-style Indian restaurant next door to Dragonel (with which they share a common kitchen).

A Dhaaba is the Indian equivalent to a trucker's restaurant or a roadhouse -- and are said to have some of the best cuisine in the country. The restaurant is decorated to look like one of these, with sort of a rustic look. A homage to the truckers is evident in a large mural of a truck that is made up to look like an elephant, all with bright colors and Indian decorations.

gallery_2_0_3123.jpg

Salt and Pepper shrimp -- off the Dragonel Menu, but was a special at Dhaaba tonight. They had sliced up habaneros in them this evening. Oh boy.

gallery_2_0_80472.jpg

Garlic Jhinga - shrimps stewed in tomato sauce

gallery_2_0_20942.jpg

Kati Rolls, a specialty of Kolkatta. The ones shown here are chicken but they have other varieties, such as mutton and vegetarian ones. They have a lot of spices in them, and a lot of green chiles and coriander. I really liked these a lot.

gallery_2_0_117980.jpg

A mixed kebab platter -- tandoor lamb chops (boti kebab) marinated in yogurt (fantastic), a few pieces of chicken, and Lamb Seekh Kebab.

gallery_2_0_16132.jpg

House Special Naan, a special giant flatbread with onion seeds.

gallery_2_0_32157.jpg

These are chickpeas that have been soaked in tea, ergo Black Chickpeas, and then cooked with spices.

gallery_2_0_91662.jpg

Shrimp Goa Curry. VERY VERY SPICY!

gallery_2_0_3435.jpg

Kadai Paneer

gallery_2_0_91953.jpg

Mutton Biryani

gallery_2_0_33285.jpg

This is a fish special that was served to the table next to us

gallery_2_0_68769.jpg

Carrot pudding, very sweet, served with ice cream on the side

gallery_2_0_1227.jpg

Andy Kapoor, Owner of Dhaaba and Dragonel. I think he kinda looks like an Indian Tony Bourdain, but better looking.

******

The food at Dhaaba is excellent -- probably the best Indian in the entire Bergen County area. However, it is not for the timid -- it makes extensive use of very hot chiles and spices, at levels that Indians actually eat. So make sure you bring a six pack of beer, or order some of the Lassis they have avaliable, because you are going to need them.

On weekends Dhaaba and Dragonel are now doing a combo lunch buffet of Indian and Indo-Chinese items, all you can eat for $11.95. I haven't been yet, but after sampling what we had tonight and what we've had at Dragonel before, we're definitely going to be there soon.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We let our host, Andy, order for us last evening, and he did an abundant job of it! I particularly enjoyed the black chick peas and the fried poori bread to go with them. The kati rolls were excellent, the pastry-like wrap was flaky and rich. Jason hit a whole chili or something, because he found these much spicier than I did (and I'm the wimp). As example of my wimpitude, I could only eat a couple bites of the shrimp goa -- that was HOT. Andy said that shrimp appetizer had habaneros in it. I have no idea what was in the goa curry, but it was WAY hotter.

We were also intrigued by the massive onion seed naan. I plan on toasting a bit of the leftovers this morning and seeing how cream cheese works on it. :smile:

Just so you don't think we ate all that in one sitting, Jason's having at least two Indian lunches this week!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Wimpitude." I like it. :laugh:

Gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing. I must get up to Hackensack more often.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had a weekday lunch at Dhaaba a couple of months ago. Both Dhaaba and Dragonel have buffet lunches at $7.95 each. As my wife and I had been to dinner at Dragonel twice before, we opted for Dhaaba. Food was good, though not nearly as exotic as described above. There was an excellent cabbage salad with a unique dressing (?sesame oil based), and the naan was brought fresh to the table.

What was of interest was that you can go to both buffets for $2 more. When we asked the waiter how this would be done, he told us that we could walk over to Dragonel either via outside or through the small connecting portall in the middle of both restaurants. We had already had second helpings at that point so we left thatchallenge for another day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...