Dragon Room–Grand Rapids, Michigan

Photo by Brian Merwin

Photo by Brian Merwin

The Dragon Room, located on W Fulton St by San Chez, brings a new vibe to Grand Rapids. The décor is upscale and clean with bold colors while the seating invites you to relax. There is the bar, a few tall tables and stools, and couches–those are the seating options. This isn’t your grandmother’s restaurant. The name hangs above the bar in front of a soothing waterfall.

Open only Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, this sounds like a club but it’s a restaurant to relax in and eat Asian fusion. Most of the menu was inspired by Japanese cuisine. I arrived at 6:30PM on a Thursday. I found in the corner a red chaise to lounge in but it was not practical to sit in while eating. But the chair looked fabulous and stood for everything I hoped this restaurant would be–beautiful, fresh, and inviting.

I started with a New York roll placed on the coffee table in front of me, Granny Smith apple rolled with cream cheese and avocado with rice and seaweed that laid on pinwheels of cucumbers. The presentation was clean and artful but the plating of the soy sauce and wasabi lacked sensibility. I was presented with a dish in the middle of the sushi plate with soy sauce and a dollop of wasabi in it. This did not let me mix my own wasabi and soy sauce to my liking. Personally, I don’t eat soy sauce. My mom used to tell my dad all the time that soy sauce was salty and that salty foods make you lose your hair. It stuck with me, my grandmother is losing her hair. The New York roll swayed far from Asian. The sensation of eating the roll was creamy and then crunchy. I dipped one in wasabi and the overwhelming lake of soy sauce and it did not add nor take away from the dish. For an adventure, try the New York roll.

Next the tuna roll arrived. I always order a tuna roll to test the freshness and quality of the seafood. It was pretty enough that my non-sushi eating friend wanted to give sushi another chance. Verdict? The fish is fresh.

The final dish was the ahi tuna with udon noodles. The noodles were clumped together like a bird’s nest and not in an appetizing way. But then why waste such food if it is supposed to taste inedible? The ahi tuna was good but I would have preferred it cooked less. That is my personal preference; I have seen it cooked to that medium degree at other restaurants. I prefer an even sear around the edges. This tuna had 1/4″ more cooked on one side than the other. Then it was plated on lettuce that was wilted and slimy because of the cooked tuna that sat on it.

Overall, I am looking forward to my next visit to the Dragon Room for a sip of sake. A dj arrives at 10 to add music to this chill atmosphere and I am ready to meet the dj. I will try everything on the menu because it sounds so creative. Sushi novices, beware, this is not the first place to go to venture into the world of sour rice and seafood. It is the place to go for testing your palate.


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