Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lucky Dragon – Charles City, IA

This is a small hometown Chinese food place in the middle of Iowa. Gerd and I used to stop here on the long drive from Illinois to Minneapolis since it’s about halfway. I needed dinner this trip, so I stopped and wiped my tears away and got me some Chinese food.

The inside is like a lot of small-town Chinese food places. Clean, with a little wear and tear, and a LOT of red paint and vinyl. I didn’t even need to see a menu. I had a hankering for some combination fried rice since I had hit the Iowa border, so I just ordered it right up, and throw in some spice. And also some egg drop soup, since I’m always on a mission to find good egg drop soup.

I needed to use the restroom anyway and since I was waiting for my food, I capitalized on their facilities. Hilarious bathroom. In the stall my feet stuck out the bottom of the door without a lock. I guess if you walk into the bathroom and see someone’s legs sticking out the bottom of the stall door, you know it’s occupied. My knees were against the door. Hilarious and I probably shouldn’t have been chuckling in case someone came in and thought something weird was going on. Thankfully no one did.

I waited in the lobby and they brought my food. I grabbed a Dew and headed to the car. It’s difficult to eat soup while driving, so I started on that in the parking lot. The soup was the kind that I don’t generally like – the kind with the consistency of snot with too much egg and really thick broth. I like the chicken super liquid broth with lots of cabbage (which I can’t find in the Twin Cities (so if you know of any, please tell me). One thing that redeemed this soup was the fried crispy things they supplied. Seemingly boring, when you throw these into the soup, it becomes delicious and much more appealing texturally. Much less snot-like! Plus it made it look like some sort of freak show Chinese Cinnamon Toast Crunch (see photo). This made it REALLY good!

The fried rice isn’t stellar, but it’s pretty good for average white-bread town in Iowa. And it was exactly what I needed. Plenty of beef and pork, and enough shrimp that I knew it was there, but not enough to weird me out about eating seafood (I just chewed fast, so I couldn’t tell which meat I was actually eating – ha ha ha). It came in the standard size Chinese takeout container, which I always think looks smaller than what is actually contained. I think the design incorporates some sort of hidden Mary Poppins compartment for an additional serving that you can’t see from the outside, but is just enough to make you eat more than you should have.

Seriously, this Chinese food won’t blow you away or make you crave it again, but if you’re driving though the middle of Iowa, it’s a good place to stop and take a break.

Top 5 things about the Lucky Dragon
1. Combination fried rice is decent
2. Putting the fried strips into the soup
3. Cheap
4. On the way home
5. Really big menu

Bottom 5 things
1. I can’t eat at this place without thinking of Gerd – we looked forward to eating here on trips home
2. Egg drop soup texture is snot-like
3. In the middle of nowhere
4. Not stellar, unless you get a craving for it
5. Lots of red inside. LOTS of red

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