Anyone who enjoys a good combo plate at a Chinese mall food court eatery needs to give Happy Dragon a try.
The restaurant was one of the first to go up in the ever-developing city of Vineyard, and I’m sure it will stick around a long time thanks to its fantastic flavors, array of options, customer service, affordability, and take-out and delivery options.
Stepping up to the ordering counter can be a bit overwhelming, what with all the various proteins in flavored sauces and accompanying sides the restaurant offers. But don’t fear: Workers will happily let you sample different options you’re considering.
While you can order different menu items individually, we (and I’m sure most diners) opted for combo plates, which come in small (one entree, one side), regular (two entrees, one side), and super (three entrees, one side). Happy Dragon offers about 15 entrees, including classic regulars and rotating chef specials. The dishes range in options from classics like Orange Chicken, and Beef and Broccoli, to unique options like Honey Walnut Shrimp. Side options also include classics: fried rice and lo mein, along with unusual options like Bacon Fried Rice.
We wanted to try as many dishes as possible to get the full Dragon experience, so our order included: Honey Chicken, Orange Chicken, Mushroom Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Honey Walnut Shrimp, Fried Rice, Lo Mein, Mixed Vegetables, Vegetable Spring Rolls, Cheese Rangoons and Egg Drop Soup. (Yes, our jeans were significantly tighter after the meal. Worth it.)
All four of us agreed the Orange Chicken was one of the best entrees: Happy Dragon does the classic right with crispy, high-quality white chicken and a sauce that’s not too sweet but full of flavor. Orderers of the Honey Walnut Shrimp described the dish as “scrumptious” and “amazing,” and well worth the extra dollar or so it cost to add it on. And our “snack” sides — Vegetable Spring Rolls and Cheese Rangoons — were fought over. Both were fried perfectly, and both had delectable fillings of veggies and cream cheese, respectively, accompanied by sweet dipping sauces.
Our sides of Lo Mein, Fried Rice and Mixed Vegetables were enjoyable, even if they were a bit plain. The Egg Drop Soup had a great consistency and included a yummy vegetable melody to accompany the swirls of egg. The Mushroom Chicken, Sesame Chicken, and Sweet and Sour Chicken were good, but not amazing.
The only menu item we tried that we were a bit disappointed with was the Honey Chicken. The sauce was great, but the problem was the chicken itself. Most of the other chicken dishes included the classic kind of chicken you’d expect at a Chinese restaurant: various chunky sizes of white meat battered and deep fried. But for some reason, for this entree, the restaurant uses what I can only describe as lower-quality chicken nuggets (like the kind you buy in the frozen isle of the grocery store) to cover in its sauce. Kids may like this entree, but for us, when compared to all the other chicken items we ordered, we were left curious as to why the restaurant chose to switch from their high-quality, classic chicken to a low-quality nugget just for this dish.
Comparable plates at Happy Dragon’s natural rival, the chain Panda Express, are more pricey and lower quality than what Vineyard’s family-owned eatery offers.
So the next time you’re craving a loaded plate of sweet and savory Chinese grub, or wanting some yummy Chinese takeout or delivery that won’t break the bank, give Happy Dragon a go: Your wallet and taste buds will thank you, and you’ll be supporting a local business!