I headed to Chinatown in Los Angeles for a $5 lunch with a friend who said the enclave was so small you can walk the entire length. Even by LA standards, she was right. We strolled down N. Broadway and turned into a small promenade. Many of the stores were not open and there were few shoppers.
A restaurant called Hop Louie, was open and offered a $4.75 lunch special, but instead we decided to check out New Dragon Chinese, which was located at the end of the alley. Outside New Dragon, a whiff of something tasty convinced us to go inside.
The $4.75 lunch specials at New Dragon are all vegetarian. If you are willing to pay $5.75 or $6.75 there are more than a dozen specials with meat. I ordered the eggplant with spicy garlic sauce and my friend ordered the sauteed mixed vegetables. Lunch specials includes rice, soup and tea.
A bowl of hot and sour soup arrived soon after we ordered. Hot and sour soup is not my favorite, but this was either very delicious soup or I was extremely hungry because I quickly ate the whole bowl. The soup had big chunks of tofu and thin strips of mushrooms.
My eggplant dish, above, arrived first and was very large for a lunch special. It had chunks of green peppers cooked al dente, slices of red onion, and was a bit spicy. “This tastes good,” my friend said. “And it looks like meat!”
We ate our fill of eggplant and were still waiting for the mixed vegetables when my friend jumped out of her seat and approached the server. Gotta love a pushy journalist. Where was the rest of our food? It came so quickly I knew they had already been making it when she asked. The mixed vegetables were very fresh and had a mild flavor. They were tasty but not as special as the eggplant dish. The portions were so big that we could not finish either dish so I took home the leftovers.
New Dragon is loud and does not have much decoration. Service was decent but not particularly attentive. The food is definitely the biggest plus. Read more reviews on Yelp. Visit them at 934 N. Hill St. in Los Angeles. (213) 626-6050. The lunch specials are served Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.