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I had the pleasure of visiting Fat Dragon in north Austin over the past weekend, and the decision is final: Fat Dragon is the best Chinese food in Austin. Best known for their array of delicious dumplings, the Fat Dragon menu is several pages long and packed with delicious entrees. Fat Dragon is more of a hole-in-the-wall type place, tucked in an unassuming shopping center off 183 and Spicewood Springs in NW Austin. It’s well worth the drive despite being about 20 minutes north of downtown.
The Fat Dragon Vibe
I wanted to try as much as possible during my first visit, and ended up with a table full of food that I promptly devoured. Everything I ordered tasted very light and fresh. Nothing was greasy, heavy, or unhealthy feeling. This is definitely a good thing when it comes to eating as much as possible! It’s obviously very authentic as well. Nothing on the menu is Americanized and there was nary an orange chicken to be found.
The restaurant is as casual as can be — grab a menu, order at the counter, and then pick up your own plates and utensils. When I arrived on a Sunday afternoon around 1pm, almost all the tables were full. Despite being a packed house (and taking online delivery orders!) the mountain of food I ordered arrived within about 10 minutes.
For all the Austinites reading this, Fat Dragon does work with Favor, and often offers $1 or free delivery fees (bless!) BUT keep in mind that the best menu items are not available for delivery. I’m assuming this has to do with freshness, or maybe they just want to hoard the soup dumplings for the guests dining in. Regardless, it’s best to drive up to the restaurant and eat there. I also have a feeling that you might want to order more food after devouring the first round, and it would be such a shame to have to wait for another delivery.
What to Order at Fat Dragon
Here’s a round-up of the menu items I’ve tried so far at Fat Dragon. I’ll come back and update this as I try more things!
Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao): 4 for $6
The holy grail of Fat Dragon. The soup dumplings are their claim to fame, and with good reason. I’ve never eaten a dumpling so tasty, and I order dumplings everywhere I go. Soup dumplings are so called because there is actual soup broth inside the dumpling! I don’t know how they get it in there but it is so flavorful and makes the pork filling oh so juicy. After finishing the meal, I seriously contemplated going back to the counter to order another round of soup dumplings. I saw these delightful dumplings on just about every table in the room.
Pork Belly Fritter (Gua Bao): 2 for $5.50
I could have easily eaten more of the gua bao, too. The crispy and tender pork is wrapped in a bun that is as soft as a cloud and the perfect texture. Pieces of cilantro top it off and it is *chefs kiss* perfect.
Shrimp Tempura Ramen: $10.95
A great bargain, as it comes with a full bowl of ramen and a side of 5 tempura shrimp. If you were to order just the tempura shrimp as an appetizer, that’s $8.50 alone. I don’t appreciate high quality ramen as much as I should — I still eat the 10 cent kind way too often. I did really enjoy this bowl of soup, but it didn’t compare to the amazing-ness of the dumplings. That’s not to say it’s not good! Just eat it before the dumplings, probably.
Pork and Veggie Egg Rolls: 2 for $3.50
John ate both of these and said they were right up there with his all-time favorite egg rolls! He is definitely more of an egg roll connoisseur than I am, so I totally trust his judgement here.