For years, I lived around the corner from Dragon Bowl but never bothered to try it. Now, I live miles away but got a group of friends to venture over because of this review. I am sad to say that, though we were glad we gave a "new" place a try, we were generally disappointed.
Before I go on, I'll put a disclaimer that I hope my comments will be helpful and as unbiased as possible. I am a native Houstonian of Chinese descent who loves culinary arts. I also freelance as an occasional mystery shopper so I have a bit of experience evaluating eateries.
We arrived on a Wednesday evening just after 7pm. The small dining room was packed but a waiter quickly addressed us and helped us figure out a spot for our group of six. He ended up being our waiter for the evening and did a great job, despite some confusion about offering us happy hour choices, then reneging on it.
Now the important things...the food. 1. Pork belly bun (as recommended in the review): pretty disappointing. First, it is an incredibly overpriced menu item, even for the Inner Loop. It consisted of ONE "bought frozen" bun, two bite-sized pieces of pork belly, a garnish and a smear of hoisin-based sauce. Positive? The pork was very well-seasoned and had a decent crunch to the skin. But again, the bun was a standard frozen bun easily purchased in a Chinese grocery store. It would have been alright if not for the fact that it was served...cold. They needed to steam it right before service, otherwise it reads as we received it---bland, dry and a tad grainy.
2. Szechuan ribs appetizer: best thing we had all night. It was a huge portion of spareribs for an $8 appetizer, about 6-7 in total. They could be a meal in themselves. They were cooked perfectly to nearly fall off the bone. The glaze was slightly sweet and tangy with a spicy kick at the end.
3. Various handrolls: not pleasant. The salmon was not a good quality (little fat) and seemed a bit mealy. The salmon skin was not crunchy but chewy. The nori, too, was not light & crunchy but, instead, soggy and chewy. Perhaps this was because it sat out too long waiting to be delivered to the table? We didn't feel our service was slow so did the kitchen prepare too soon? (sidebar: the patrons at a neighboring table got agitated because their orders were taking an excessively long time to arrive. the waiter brought them some edamames to snack on during the wait.)
4. Various noodle bowls: average. The portions are huge, enough for 2 if eating appetizers. All three bowls we ordered were over-sauced, overpowering the other ingredients. My Super Udon Bowl had nice fresh veggies but the snow peas were not prepped properly (left on the tough vein). The tofu was good but the shrimp were 1 inch popcorn-sized shrimp. I asked for extra spicy and it came perfectly spiced, albeit a bit sour...not sure what that's about. I don't remember the names of the bowls my friends ordered but they both said the sauces were too sweet.
The venue had a nice comfy feel but it was way too crowded. They need to remove one or two small tables.
Sadly, this is not a place any of us want to revisit, despite our clamor for decent Asian food in the Heights. I remember sitting there thinking, as the only table of Asians in the place, that I hope other diners aren't looking at us and saying, "Gee, even Asians eat here so it must be good." Don't make that mistake. Forgo the ambiance and drive out to Chinatown.