Double Dragon’s reputation – both positive and negative – preceded it. I had heard that while the food was fantastic at this new Asian restaurant, the noise levels were extreme. The first turned out to be absolutely true, and the second, thankfully, not so true.
There were seven of us, and since this highly popular restaurant doesn’t take reservations, we arrived at 7pm to queue up even though the restaurant doesn’t open until 7:30. This turned out to be unnecessary, as we were the only ones waiting.
The open kitchen, right there on the left when you enter, is staffed by chef Antoine Villard, the former second to Bertrand Grébaut, the Michelin-starred chef of Septime (who happens to be the husband of Tatiana Levha, the co-owner with her sister Katia of Double Dragon and the nearby Le Servan). The restaurant has a pleasing decor with lots of cool details like a neon “painting,” handsome tiles on the walls, wine racks and a Chinese paper dragon in the toilet.
Rather than engage in a long discussion about what to order, we decided to take the waiter‘s suggestion and order all the small plates on the menu, except the hot-and-sour soup, which would have been difficult to share. That amounted to 15 dishes.
They came in an onslaught, and that leads to my only complaint about Double Dragon. We just couldn’t keep up with the pace of delivery. Before we started on one dish, another arrived. That said, when we asked the servers to slow down the pace, they did.
The flavors came from all over Asia – including China, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines – but were never mixed injudiciously.
There were many, many standouts. The most surprising was the pig’s ear. Many grimaces were observed around the table when it was mentioned, but it looked inoffensive, and the thin, wide, pink-and-white-striped ribbons had a most refined flavor, considering the source – proof that you can indeed make silk out of a sow’s ear. I took advantage of the distaste of many of my dining companions to eat far more than my share.
Almost every dish was sublime, with a special mention for those with can’t-get-enough-of-’em sauces (the cockles, baby scallops, spinach, dan dan noodles) each one of them different and delicious. There was no repetition at all.
The dishes that were meant to be crispy – fried ravioli, fried broccoli and tofu – were perfectly crispy and non-oily.
The consensus of the group was that the fried chicken with sweet-and-sour sauce was the least successful. It was perfectly prepared, but I think we all had quite enough of that Cantonese specialty in the days before more sophisticated Chinese food was available in restaurants, and today there is a general aversion to anything that is too sweet.
We also ordered all three of the desserts on offer. My favorite was the Philippine-style cassava cake with fabulous coconut ice cream.
Our fear that the music would be too loud – stoked by complaints in many online reviews – turned out to be unjustified. The place is not quiet by any means, but we were able to converse easily and liked the lively ambiance.
To sum up, Double Dragon offers not a double but a quadruple whammy of variety, perfect preparation, fantastic flavors and great atmosphere. What’s not to love? I’ll be back.