Maybe we just lucked out or maybe there are always pleasant surprises at the new Crouching Dragon restaurant in Denham Springs, but on our first visit we enjoyed a couple of off-the-menu treats, before our meal even began.
First off, we reaped the benefits of a recent trip to Louisiana by a relative of the owners, who had whipped up a homemade treat called “Chinese peanuts.”
They were simply peanuts covered in a sweet fried batter and dusted with powdered sugar - and we couldn’t stop eating them.
Then there was the complimentary appetizer, a take on spicy meatballs called dragonballs - neat little rounds of pork, shrimp and beef, mixed with finely chopped celery and vegetables and delicately seasoned. Again a success and not to be found on the menu, which in fact easily has more than 100 items.
Suffice it to say, we were quickly charmed by the neat little shop that’s opened in the small strip shopping center located practically on the outskirts of the parking lot of Bass Pro.
Turning to the task at hand, actually ordering our meal, we began with appetizers of an egg roll ($1.15), Shanghai spring roll ($1.25) and eight steamed dumplings ($4.25)
We liked them, and the steamed dumpling especially caught our fancy, filled with pork and served with a thin, dark sauce dotted with finely sliced scallions. The waitress/hostess said this was a specialty of the chef’s.
For entrées, we chose the moo shu ($6.75); curry shrimp ($6.75); sesame chicken ($6.75); and beef with snow peas ($7.55).
For the main ingredient of the moo shu, diners can choose from vegetables, pork, chicken, beef or shrimp.
I chose pork, and it was tender, well seasoned and served with equally tender, fresh cooked cabbage and mushrooms. The pork and vegetables came with five paper-thin pancakes for spooning the moo shu onto and making wraps. The pancakes came tightly rolled and wrapped in cellophane. Part of the charm of the dish was unwrapping the pancakes and gingerly unrolling them - and marveling at not a single rip or tear in the translucent cake.
Another entrée, the curry shrimp, served large, succulent shrimp over golden fried rice brightened and flavored with green pepper, snow peas and onions, all tied together with the curry seasoning. It was excellent.
Likewise for the sesame chicken that featured what a dinner guest described as a “mountain” of bite-sized, sweet-flavored chicken, with fried rice.
The guest who enjoyed the beef and snow peas found the beef very tender, and in a perfect ratio to the snow peas and other vegetables. She enjoyed the flavors and the contrast of textures.
In all, generous portions and bright, fresh ingredients were consistent elements of the meals.
The restaurant provides carry-out and also serves several American dishes. It has a diet menu as well, that includes dishes with steamed chicken or shrimp, served in vegetable combinations.
At lunchtime on weekdays, in addition to menu items, there’s a “serving line special” that offers four items and a drink for $5.49.
The good food, plus helpful customer service make the Crouching Dragon a new favorite.