Monday, December 05, 2005
Eating: Le Dragon
Lest anyone think that there are only Asian restaurants in Madrid, let me explain. For awhile now, I've been intrigued by the food blogging extravaganzas that go on over at sites like Is My Blog Burning, so when I read about the latest Dine and Dish I decided to give it a try. This month's theme: Asian Persuasion.
And then, this weekend, a friend reminded me of the mini-Chinatown that lurks, of all places, beneath the Plaza de España (northeast of the Don Quijote statue, down the stairs that lead to the underground parking lot). There's a lot to be written about this phenomenon, but for now, suffice it to say that I've wanted to visit for a while. And this confluence--my desire to try my hand at a food blogging event, my desire to visit Madrid's own Chinatown--took me to the Plaza de España today at lunchtime. Or underneath it, to be exact.
Well, I'm sorry to report that Chinatown might be something of an exaggeration. Chinavillage comes closer. China-convenience-store-on-the-side-of-an-otherwise-abandoned-highway is even more accurate. One travel agency, one grocery store, one place selling Buddhas and mah johng sets, and a single restaurant. A very authentic looking restaurant, but one with only 10 tables. All of which were very, very full.
But I still had my Dine and Dish assignment to fulfill. So I got on the metro, and headed to Le Dragon, which lies physically in the Salamanca neighborhood, and metaphysically at the other end of the Chinese restaurant spectrum from a joint in the Plaza de España parking lot. Very chic decor, like the inside of a laquer box, beautiful hostesses running around in bright red cheonsams, a style of Asian restaurant that the Spanish papers insist on calling "London-esque."
Which as far as I can tell, translates as "expensive." I, however, stuck to the 12-euro menu del dia, which included a plate of quite delicious sauteed vegetables, a credible version of curry shrimp with cilantro, and rice. I could have had dessert too--all around me the well-dressed Spaniards were consuming huge bowls of whipped cream with nuts the way Americans might reach for the fortune cookies; that is, as if whipped cream with nuts was the natural thing to have at the end of a Chinese meal. But I stuck to that other typically Chinese ending: espresso.
Le Dragon, Gil de Santibáñez, 6. Tel. 91 435 66 69/ 88