THE DRAGON EXPRESS 500 W. University Parkway. Hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Call 366-3550.
The Dragon Express menu begins with a brief Chinese conversation lesson (lessons progress with each updated menu) and the admonishment to "keep studying."
The Dragon Express kitchen may do well to heed this advice. Within one compact order, this carryout establishment -- an offshoot of the ever-sleepy Dragon Palace -- offered high and low moments. Steamed dumplings ($4.50 for six) were doughy and savory. This reviewer has also sampled the fried dumplings, a little greasier and tastier yet.
The hot and spicy chicken filet sauteed in orange sauce ($7.95) was an ultra-tangy carton-full of chicken slivers, drowned in a sauce of orange peel, ginger root and red pepper. But the vegetarian delight ($6.95) was anything but. Broccoli, the dish's headliner, was not crisp and emerald green, as anticipated, but faded and spent. The water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, etc., were tasteless.
There is much reason not to give up on the Dragon Express, which also offers free delivery. For example, the "Something New; Be Adventurous" column of the menu beckons, with Dragon nuggets, scallion pancakes (also called Chinese pizza) and "honey spicy dragon wings," promised by the restaurant's PR department to be "awesome!"
And, the staff will prepare requests not on the menu.
When you call in an order, remember to say, "Shieh shieh nee." That means thank you.