𝗗𝗼𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗗𝗿𝗮𝗴𝗼𝗻 𝗜𝗻𝗻 was started back in 1969 by Hakka restaurateur-chef, Chan Kok Hung. At the time, it was called 𝗗𝗿𝗮𝗴𝗼𝗻 𝗜𝗻𝗻. Its hey-days was the 1970s-80s, when its freshly-kneaded, then stir-fried Hakka-style noodles was the talk of town. Reservations was a must at this relatively tiny restaurant: about 60 covers, divided into 5-6 tables. In those years, their main rivals for Chinese fine dining in Penang, Haloman and Fortuna, were more like banqueting halls which could seat hundreds.
At one point, sometime in the 1990s, the restaurant had a branch known as 𝗗𝗼𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗗𝗿𝗮𝗴𝗼𝗻, on Jalan Mas in the upper middle-class suburb of Taman Guan Joo Seng. It had exactly the same menu. But, after a decade or so, the branch closed down and its operations were consolidated with the original outlet on Gottlieb Road, which was subsequently re-named 𝗗𝗼𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗗𝗿𝗮𝗴𝗼𝗻 𝗜𝗻𝗻.
The restaurant is currently being run by founder Chan Kok Hung’s son, Chan See Chew, who still does all the cooking. Mr Chan See Chew’s wife, Serina, manages the front of house.
Our dinner last night consisted of:
𝙎𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙤𝙥 𝙬𝙧𝙖𝙥 - shredded scallop-and-crab meat, fried till dry & crisp, then served with fresh lettuce. This was a house special and every table seemed to be ordering it.
IMO, it’s the kind of dish which one have to grow up with, in order to like: the finely-shredded scallop-meat was stir-fried with crab-meat and finely-chopped water chestnuts, among other indecipherable ingredients, until the whole hodge-podge was quite dry & crisp. For first-timers like me, it was a bit hard to accept.
𝙋𝙤𝙢𝙛𝙧𝙚𝙩 𝙨𝙚𝙧𝙫𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙬𝙤 𝙬𝙖𝙮𝙨 - braised fish fillets, and crisp-fried battered fish-bones. This is another popular house specialty, and a variant on the version served at Singapore’s now-defunct Hua Zhu on Farrer Road. Hua Zhu’s version had a tomatoey gravy for the braised portion of the pomfret.
Over here at Double Dragon Inn, the pomfret fillets were smothered with a light gravy which had a capsicum flavor. The batter-fried, crisp pomfret bones were absolutely delightful - exactly the same as the ones from Hua Zhu.
𝙎𝙩𝙞𝙧-𝙛𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙙 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙛 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙠𝙖𝙞-𝙡𝙖𝙣 - this was our favorite dish for the evening: perfectly-textured beef fillets, in a light, subtle stir-fry with kai-lan greens and thinly-sliced carrots. An absolute delight.
𝙋𝙧𝙖𝙬𝙣𝙨 𝙞𝙣 𝙨𝙥𝙞𝙘𝙮-𝙤𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙨𝙖𝙪𝙘𝙚 - this was a rather heavy dish - the fresh prawns were covered with a spicy-peppery brown sauce.
𝙎𝙩𝙞𝙧-𝙛𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙙 𝙃𝙖𝙠𝙠𝙖 𝙣𝙤𝙤𝙙𝙡𝙚𝙨, served in a ring of crisp, julienned lettuce. This was the restaurant’s claim-to-fame during its hey-days 4-5 decades back, but which seemed a bit dated nowadays. Still quite a palatable dish if one adds a dollop of spicy sambal belacan.
After all these years, 𝗗𝗼𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗗𝗿𝗮𝗴𝗼𝗻 𝗜𝗻𝗻 still maintains its long-standing reputation as a “No MSG” Chinese restaurant. Its dishes also tend to be blander, as compared to other restaurants’ offerings, but seemed to suit their loyal following. The majority of their clientele are those who practically grew up and continued to patronize the restaurant through the years, bringing their own children along nowadays.
Double Dragon Inn
27B, Jalan Gottlieb (Gottlieb Road), 10350 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +604-227 7049
Opening hours: 7pm to 9.30pm daily, except Tuesdays (closed).