Chan’s Dragon Inn
630 Broad Ave, Ridgefield, NJ
I’d like to think that since getting married 11 years ago, and then later on forming eGullet, my tastes in Asian cuisine and particularly Chinese food have matured. I love great regional Chinese food, particularly real Sichuan, Hunan and Shanghainese food when I can get it, and I’m a frequent customer of several the local Hong Kong-Style Dim Sum haunts in the area as well. Still, at the end of the day you sometimes want the Chinese food of your youth, that your parents and grandparents introduced you to. For me, its the sort of Chinese food that was (and still is) served at places like King Yum in Fresh Meadows, Queens (and long-gone venues like Trader Vic’s and Don The Beachcomber) a totally American style of Chinese food that never, ever existed in Asia and is served in such kitschy atmospheres, you’d think you’d died gone to to Tiki hell.
Chan’s Dragon Inn is such a place. True to my own memories of King Yum while growing up in Queens, Chan’s is totally bad-ass old-school Polynesian Chinese, and they’ve been proudly serving knock-you-flat-on-your-ass umbrella drinks and Egg Foo Young since 1965. Walking into this restaurant throws you right into a time warp, where life was simpler back then, as were tastes in food. People wanted to escape a bit in their dining experience, even if it was in a totally faux atmosphere, and the food really wasn’t truly Polynesian. It doesn’t matter — I’m a complete sucker for this type of place.
To fully appreciate it, you really need to be immersed in the atmosphere itself (click for video, uploaded to Google).
The storefront on Broad Ave.
If you’re not old enough to remember what Master Charge, Carte Blanche and BankAmericard is, you’re likely going to be somewhat traumatized by what lies inside.
Abandon all hope, ye who orders from this drink menu. You might not be able to find your way back home afterwards.
That drink is most definitely on fire.
Wonton soup, in a classic American-Chinese preparation with peices of bright red roast pork in it..
Shrimp with Lobster Sauce and Roast Pork Fried Rice. This and Egg Foo Young (below) are the benchmark dishes of any Amercian-Chinese restaurant. Chan’s versions are excellent and retro-tastic.
Egg Roll — with both pork and shrimp in it, fried to golden brown perfection.