As the Dragon continues to set new standards for the rest of Hangzhou's more elite-level venues to follow, their latest project - Long Ling Ge Chinese Restaurant - brings forth a cooking style that strives to embellish upon tried and true classics, as well as making artful interpretations combining Hangzhou's “Jiangnan” cuisine with Cantonese favorites. Long Ling Ge, or “The Grand Dragon” restaurant, strives to create legendary Hangzhou cuisine, so naturally, the chowhounds at MORE were excited to try it for ourselves, to see what happens when the best of both worlds are brought together in a setting that makes you feel like royalty. When we say the place is posh, we aren't kidding. There is an unmistakable feeling that everything inside the building is very expensive, and even the smallest details, like the identically arranged place settings in the main dining hall, are signs of the near-obsessive determination that the staff possesses to create an environment like no other in Hangzhou. While we admittedly consider ourselves to be a little on the low-rent side, we can appreciate what goes into a fine dining atmosphere, and more specifically, what goes into fine dining, where the actual food is concerned. Our meal started with five varieties of “Jiangnan” appetizers, complete with a little fusion twist, as the cold dish proudly displayed foie gras and Australian oyster, making us consider all the untried combinations that could exist, when playing with classical French cuisine, traditional Chinese foods, and modern treatments of ingredients. We moved on to a steaming bowl of “Imperial Assorted Seafood in Golden Broth,” and found ourselves feeling like we'd just been bathed in sheer decadence. Lavender-smoked honey codfish served with pickled vegetables was a near-perfect dish, with a hint of lavender that was a clever foil to the pronounced flavors of cod. It was difficult to see this one go, but the plates were quickly replaced by dishes of wok-fired, roasted pork with peanut sprouts and sun-dried chilies, and smoked “haulm” baby duck in a clay pot. An outstanding finish to the meal was the green apple ice sorbet with aloe jelly and signature deep-fried Durian ice cream, which could make a convert out of even the biggest Durian-hater. Malaysian Executive Chef Ye Bao Rong, and new revolutionary Chinese culinarian, Liang Zi Geng's, amazing cooking skills are on full display at the Dragon. Parking is no problem, and prices are definitely not on the low end of the spectrum. We're sure the Dragon's exceptional and interpretive foods will make you stop and give pause, as you realize that you're trying something quite new, although built from familiar components.
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