9 Dragons at Hollywood Casino, Charles Town

Posted by  | January 3, 2013  at 5:02 PM  

Spider Roll, 9 Dragons Roll, and the Hot Mama Roll
Nestled in a sea of slot machines at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, WV, you'll find 9 Dragons--an upscale taste of the Far East without the hassle of traveling any further east than the Eastern Panhandle.

When a guest and I were invited to test out this exotic dining destination at Hollywood Casino -- locally still referred to as "The Track" -- I really had no idea what to expect beyond sushi and sake bombs. While our multi-course meal did include both sushi and sake, that was only the beginning of our tour de taste buds.

Approaching 9 Dragons, you'll first notice the bar area where you'll find several high-top tables scattered between the beverage bar and sushi bar. This seating area allows for all the people watching you can handle as you take in the diverse culture of the crowded casino. Should you be looking for something a little more intimate, ask for a booth in the back; after a martini or two, you'll quickly forget you're right in the heart of so much hustle and bustle.

Speaking of martinis, let's talk cocktails! Initially, I had my heart (and my liver) set on a sake bomb; however, after perusing the drink menu, how could I possibly pass up a drink that included wasabi dust?! The Dragon Fire Martini is a mix of Absolut Citron, lemon lime, cucumber, and wasabi dust. As I ordered this fire-breathing beverage, our waitress inquired with raised eyebrows if I thought I could handle the spice. My dining companion chuckled as I told the waitress there's no such thing as too hot to handle, which set the tone for a spicy theme that prevailed throughout the evening. I found the Dragon Fire to be quite refreshing and not nearly as deadly as expected. Let's just say this gave me a false sense of security for what was to come.

As my fellow foodie and I sipped our beverages  (she wimped out and played it safe with wine), we settled into the somewhat daunting task of what to order. The menu at 9 Dragons is quite extensive with foods ranging from exotic delicacies like jellyfish salad and beef tendon, to more familiar looking Far Eastern fare such as fried rices.
                                      

It took quite a few passes over the menu before we made a decision on our main dishes, so in the interim, we started things off with some sushi. My friend opted for the Spider Roll (fried, soft shell crab), while I decided the Hot Mama Roll (tuna, cilantro, and jalapeno) was a must. Our waitresses took note of our order and told us we'd be missing out if we didn't try the 9 Dragons Roll (eel, shrimp, tuna, salmon, cucumber), so how could we resist? Not only was the 9 Dragons Roll the perfect combination of both flavors and textures, but when it came out it actually looked like a dragon! I'm not a fan of soft shell crab, but I was told the Spider Roll was tasty. And then there was the Hot Mama. Remember how I said I can handle the spice? I lied. My very first taste of sushi was a piece of the Hot Mama, so this was also my first sampling of 9 Dragons wasabi. Somehow I managed to get a bite that was nothing but wasabi and jalapeno. I don't know whose waterworks started first--mine from the overwhelming heat or my friend's tears from laughing so hard. My eyes haven't watered that much since I looked at my Neiman Marcus bill. All drama aside, I recommend the Hot Mama 110%. Just use caution when dabbling in the wasabi: it's not for wimps my friends.
                                                          

Once we finished wiping away our tears, we were ready to place our entree orders. After MUCH deliberation, and a long chat with our waitress over Hong Kong-style foods versus Japanese or Chinese cuisine, I went with the Lobster Harbor Style (extra spicy obviously) and my companion went for the 9 Dragons Seafood. The 9 Dragons Seafood is a combination shrimp, squid, scallops, crab, and veggies mixed in a light sauce and served with a side of rice. This dish looked too tempting to not try, so I was a rather rude dining buddy and reached across the table for a taste or two. The seafood was excellent, fresh, plump, juicy, all that jazz, but what really stood out for me were the snap peas! The peas maintained a nice crunch without being chewy, and the light sauce brought out just enough of their sweetness to balance out the seafood flavors.

One of the things I learned while dining at 9 Dragons, is that lobster is prepared quite differently in Hong Kong. In American cuisine, lobster is served whole or split down the center, where as in Hong Kong, the lobster is cracked into multiple pieces. With the lobster "Harbor Style" your whole lobster comes out, cracked in pieces and then coated with a nice spicy layer of deliciousness. I love plain old steamed lobster, but let's just say Harbor Style does to lobster what Gangnam Style does to wedding receptions--it takes it to a whole new level.

I start to feel somewhat stuffed even as I type this post, but no matter what you do, be sure to save a little room for dessert--I'm not talking about just a fortune cookie either. My friend and I did our best to polish off a monster piece of cheesecake. Trimmed with fresh berries and dark chocolate, the cheesecake was cool, creamy, and impossible to resist. Like everything else that night, it far exceeded any expectations. It was an evening that left us virtually speechless beyond "wow."
                           

On a return trip to 9 Dragons, I'd really love to try some of their soups; specifically, there was an asparagus and crab number that caught my eye. I'm also anxious to try the Hong Kong-style noodles: a dish similar to lo mein, but with the noodles pan-friend, so they're crunchy around the edges, yet soft in the middle. I'd also like to try a few sips of their sparkling sake--perhaps paired with a 9 Dragon Roll? Price points at 9 Dragons range from $6 sushi rolls to seafood entrees in the mid-$20's. You could definitely dine here on a budget, but if someone else is footing the bill, go for the lobster and do it Harbor Style.

9 Dragons
750 Hollywood Drive
Charles Town, WV 25414
1-800-795-7001




22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I MUST eat there!

Anonymous said...

Great post! Go to Charles Town soon and I will definitely try them!

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