This is the second time I've eaten at DragonFire. My initial visit was during their second month after opening. I was hesitant to write a review after that visit as maybe they were still working out the kinks. However, after my most recent vist, with a similar outcome, I feel the need to express my distaste for this restaurant with details from both visitis. I sat a normal dining table both time because I don't care about the novelty of watching a sub-par chef.
I've sampled the Hibachi, Robata, Sushi Rolls, Salads, and beer.
This is your typical ginger dressing Japanese steakhouse salad. The dressing is tasty, however DragonFire is obviously unaware of the mixed greens trend, that has been around for years, and includes ONLY iceberg lettuce. You'll also find large chunks of cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and carrot/endeve slivers. A tastier, more-filled, and mixed greens salad can be found at Nakama.
Standard options found here. I ordered the Filet and Chicken that came with fried rice and some veggies. The portion size was great; a large steak and a full piece of chicken breast. However, this was odd. Most hibachi places will slive up the meat to ensure a fully cooked and seasoned dish. Not DragonFire.
First the Steak...
The steak looked great until I cut it open. I ordered it Medium and it was dark purple (aka Very Rare). I told the waitress and she was very nice about it and told me they would make another. (However, I simple wanted it heated more and told her.) Ten minutes late she bring me another steak out. It had been butterflyed (sliced in the middle, defeating the purpose of a filet - some may argue) and looked to bee completely seared on both sides. I opened the steak up again, and it was MORE RAW than the first!! Are you kidding me?! The cook obviously has no idea how to cook a steak on hibachi, and instead of butterflying it and opening both sides to lay on the surface, he/she just sliced it and held it down with their utensils to cook it faster. This is why you pay money for real chefs! This is also another reason why you don't cook filet on Hibachi without cutting it up first - to ensure even cooking!! Such a simple principle, it makes me angry that they don't understand this. Oh and they waitress was like "Oh, that's wiered, maybe there's something wrong with the meat?"...wow. The ended up comp-ing my meal, which I didn't ask for, but it was the right thing to do.
On to the chicken...A full piece of chicken, for presentation I guess. Instead of typical spices(salt, pepper, soy, butter, and sesame seeds), this piece was DRENCHED in a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. It was OK, but this masks any type of taste or quality of the meat. Just season the meat normally! Covering your food in sauce is just a way to hide true quality and the ability to cook it well.
The RICE...Small grained rice, over cooked and over-seasoned; very salty. It was OK, and with a little bit (not a lot) of some Yum Yum (shrimp sauce w/ a tacky name) mixed in, the value was raised. The portion size was fine with hibachi, but I also got a side of it with my next meal and it didn't come close to filling the side dish it came in.
The options are represented, but lacking at the same time. They don't have typical vegetarian rolls like an Avacado roll found at every sushi place I've ever been to...really? The rolls are expensive: roughly $14-18? But wait, they say you get 10-12 pieces, which is almost double of typical rolls. Not quite..I ordered the Chef's special roll, and the presentation was as expected. However, the slices of the roll were a little over 1/4inch...no wonder how they claim 10 pieces. The roll was good, but def not 10 normal pieces, and not worth $14. Better and cheaper sushi can be found 2 miles from DragonFire at Little Tokyo in Mt. Lebanon.
I figured if they can't cook on Hibachi, the Robata is the way to go. I was sort-of correct. We ordered Broccolini, Asparagus and Strip Steak. The vegetables were actually cooked excellent! However, both were covered by the BBQ sauce? I'm getting a feeling this is the only sauce they make...or buy?
The steak...The portion was fine for my wife and I to split since we had the veggies, a salad, and sushi. BUT, it was also smothered in the BBQ sauce?!! C'mon....use some freaking normal spices for once! Also, I ordered it medium and it was RARE - again another steak almost bleeding. However, this was right at the edge of where I'd send it back, but we just ate it. It was fine and I'm still alive, but nothing to brag about.
They have a decent selection of good quality micro brews on draft; though $5.50 for a 16 oz.
Take home containers:
They have one size - just another sign of cheapness and I'm not going to elaborate.
I don't like chain restaurants and won't reccomend one other than Capital Grille or Ruth's Chris and that's strictly for steak. So, I'm not going to compare this to Benihana or Ichiban. I was hoping DragonFire would be an alternative to driving down to Nakama (which in it's own right has gone down the tubes in the past few years.) I gave DragonFire two chances, and they failed on both attempts. I will stick to Little Tokyo, and I'm happy to do so.
To the owner/manager:
1. Teach your cooks how to cook.
2. Don't mask flavor with BBQ sauce on everything you serve.
3. Make your well-seasoned, not over-seasoned.
4. Slice your meats before saute-ing them.
5. Serve your sushi before the entree.
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