Reviewing the results for our annual Best of 225 Awards is always an adventure. Voting is open to all 225 residents each spring, and we’re never quite sure what to expect. Did the rest of the city love that new bar as much as we did this year? Have Baton Rougeans found any new brunch go-tos?
For the 2017 round, we reintroduced a “Best Chinese” category for the first time in years, and we can’t lie—we were surprised to discover that about 40% of our voters chose national chain P.F. Chang’s over any of our local Chinese eateries. We love its lettuce wraps and honey shrimp, too, but we wondered what’s keeping Baton Rougeans from stepping outside of the comfort zone?
Around plates of steamed rice, bright veggies and hot and sour soups at one of our favorite local Chinese restaurants, 9 Dragon Noodle House at the corner of Highland Road and Lee Drive, we’ve decided that perhaps it’s a fear of the unknown. Chinese menus can be a little daunting if you’re not sure what you’re reading, leading many of us to the comfort of buffets where we can inspect our food before piling it onto our plates or chain restaurants with easily approachable menus. But sit-down Chinese restaurants in Baton Rouge have plenty to offer.
Take 9 Dragon Noodle House’s Amazing Chicken, which lives up to its name, despite having zero indicator on the menu of what to expect outside of a chili pepper to denote spiciness. But take a gamble on this mysteriously named dish, and you’ll find that the highly addictive chicken is seasoned, battered, fried to a perfect crisp and tossed with sauteed garlic and peppers in a mixture of hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar and hot chili oil. Order a side of string beans sauteed with purple onions and jalapenos in chili garlic sauce, chili bean sauce and hot chili oil, and you have a meal full of heat that you won’t be able to stop eating—no matter how much your lips are burning.
The 9 Dragon menu is stacked with other Asian specialities like bibimbap, pad thai and chow fen, as well as more out-there offerings for the adventurous diner, like jellyfish head salad, salt-and-pepper frog and sauteed pig stomach. But no matter your experience level with Chinese cuisine, there’s something to try here.
So, next time you’re craving an egg roll, try somewhere different. Order something you don’t quite understand or you’re unsure how to pronounce. It just might be amazing. Find 9 Dragon Noodle House on Facebook.
MORE CHINESE DISHES TO TRY AROUND TOWN
Kung Pao Calamari at Omi features fried squid in a spicy sauce with peppers and peanuts. omibr.com
Cha Siu Bao at Dim Sum Restaurant stuffs Cantonese-style barbecued pork into spongy steamed Chinese buns. dimsumrocks.com
Mei Fun, the Singapore-style stir fry with extra thin rice noodles, cabbage and your choice of meat, can be ordered up at Kamado & Golden Dragon Japanese & Chinese Cuisine. kamadoandgoldendragon.com
Egg Foo Young at Hunan Chinese Restaurant includes a Chinese-Indonesian omelet, served up by threes with white rice and cooked with chicken, beef, pork, shrimp or veggies. hunanchinesefood.com
This article was originally published in the September 2017 issue of 225 Magazine.