If you live in Boston and you don't know who Chef Ming Tsai is, I'd like to evict you.
The Boston culinary star, best known for his Wellesley restaurant Blue Ginger, has opened a new gastropub in the rapidly developing waterfront neighborhood of South Boston called Fort Point.
Just two weeks after Chef Ming opened the door to Blue Dragon I went with five friends to check it out.
I walked from work, up the Greenway, over the Fort Point channel and onto Melcher Street. Blue Dragon sits on the corner of Melcher Street and A Street.
True to its name, the restaurant has its own dragon. The dragon is in a cage for your protection, of course.
Chef Ming has his own bat signal, a blue dragon sticking up into the Boston night sky, beckoning hungry locals.
When we arrived on a Friday night at 6:15pm the restaurant was hopping! Each and every table was full and the bar area was completely packed.
Asian inspired elements are infused into the decor. I love the mix of those accents against the dark wooden tables and the exposed brick walls.
This shot, actually taken around 9:30pm, shows the high top tables that separate the bar area for the booths along the wall.
Blue Dragon's bar is gorgeous with an ornate wood carving hanging above all the liquor bottles. It should also be noted that every male bartender and server at Blue Dragon is incredibly handsome and has biceps that could lift a car.
On the far right side of the bar is a blue orchid (for Blue Dragon) and the draft beer specials, written in blue chalk. Sensing a theme here?
My favorite part of the entire restaurant is this large group table which is beneath a beautiful candelabra and beside a gorgeous water feature. In this photo it almost looks like a mirror, but inside that frame is actually a mini water fall.
As I said, we arrived at 6:15pm and put our name in with the hostess. She refused to give us a wait time estimate, but encouraged us to order a round or two at the bar. As you may have guessed, Blue Dragon does not take reservations unless you have 10 people or more.
We staked out a great spot and after a few rounds of wine and beer, decided to switch to the restaurant's signature dragon bowl.
What is it about scorpion bowls that we all just love? It's unexplainable. The Blue Dragon rendition had big slices of lime, lemon and orange. The drink itself is not overly sweet (as these can tend to be) and went very quickly. You will be at the bottom of that bowl before you know it.
After a full two hours of waiting (it was now almost 8:30pm) the hostess came over and asked if we would be willing to squish into a four top (there were six of us). At this point, we would have eaten standing up!
We settled in to our table and couldn't wait to see the full list of offerings. I love the blue dragon on the menu.
We had such a blast making a list of everything we wanted to sample. After two hours of waiting (and drinking) we decided to be bold and order everything that appealed to us - eight dishes in total.
The food at Blue Dragon arrives whenever its ready, much like tapas style dining. All of our food came out very quickly, which was a fantastic surprise after that long wait at the bar.
The first plate to arrive was the mushroom and garlic chive potstickers and they were delivered by Chef Ming himself! I was completely starstruck. I could not come up with a single thing to say to him. Not even, "Congratulations on the new place." Palm to forehead.
Throughout the night Chef Ming hand delivered plates to each and every table in the restaurant, including people eating at the bar. Talk about giving the people what they want!
Back to the food, the mushroom and garlic chive potstickers were served warm and had a delicious, soft texture to them. I usually think of potsticker shells as having a bit of crunch, but these had the same softness as the filling.
After the arrival of that first dish, my friends felt compelled to eat with chopsticks. I have confessed here before that I am incapable of eating with chopsticks. Despite my handicap, I could still marvel over the elegant packaging of these chopsticks.
Next we dove into the bowl of edamame, served with a citrus glaze. The glaze was very tasty but didn't taste like citrus it tasted more like ginger. To me, the best edamame is still at Legal Test Kitchen.
All three of the vegetarian dishes came out first, the last of which was the veggie fried rice. The dish was bursting with bright colors, fresh veggies and bold flavor. Though I liked it, it didn't taste fried. It was missing that crispy texture.
Dish number four was the roasted oysters with coconut scallion puree and crispy rice. The crispy rice looked like Rice Krispies cereal!
The two friends that shared this dish explained, "Though it was a very balanced bite, we wouldn't order this again. It was too difficult to eat and too busy."
The sweet and sour pork ribs were the next to land and my judges gave these remarks, "The glaze was super sweet and the meat falls right off the bone. Though it was only two ribs, it was really enough to feed four people. The ribs were lean, not fatty at all."
Next we welcomed a plate of Korean chicken wings with a side of kimchi.
My friends reported, "The wings were just so-so. We actually liked the kimchi better than the chicken. The wings just didn't have a bold enough flavor."
Much to our surprise, the star dish of the night was not an Asian influenced dish, but the bison mini burgers! Our waiter encouraged us to order two servings of these because each plate only comes with two mini burgers and they tend to go quickly.
The burgers were described to me as, "Moist, juicy, flavorful and the perfect bite." Their biggest fan gushed, "These bison burgers are to die for. My favorite dish of the night, hands down. The cheese, the caramelized onions, the mushrooms, the French fries, the dipping sauce - it was all epic."
My friends were nice enough to let me snag a few French fries and they were amazing! The spicy dipping sauce was as incredible as the fries. Home run, Ming!
Before I even arrived at dinner to meet my friends, they had seen a dessert at another table and decided we were having it. That dessert is listed on the menu simply as, "The cookie."
Since there were six of us and we all have major sweet tooths, we ordered two cookies. Of all the dishes we ordered, this dish actually took the longest to come out of the kitchen. Surprised? So was I until I took my bite and realized this cookie had just been baked minutes before.
The cookie comes in a skillet, topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with a grid of soy caramel sauce.
The cookie is made to order so it arrives piping hot and when you cut into it, there is melty chocolatey goodness everywhere. It was heaven. We talked about it all the way home.
At the end of our feast I excused myself to use the ladies room. On the way from the dining room to the bathrooms is the window to the extremely busy kitchen.
I always feel like a creep when I do this, but I had to take a picture of the bathroom. The bathrooms at Blue Dragon feel like spas. The dark wood paneling is so serene.
I was incredibly happy we had to walk to South Station after we left because after all that food, we desperately needed to stretch our legs!
As with any restaurant, Blue Dragon has some stand out dishes and some ho hum dishes. If you visit, my dinner dates and I highly recommend the fried rice, the bison burgers and the cookie. Seriously, you have to have the cookie.
I also feel it's worth mentioning that Blue Dragon is wonderfully affordable. At our table we shared two dragon bowls and eight dishes and between the six of us, the grand total was only $28 dollars per person.
You've heard my thoughts, now I'd love to hear yours. Have you been to Blue Dragon yet? Which dish was your favorite?