'Tis the season to eat something other than turkey for a change, and if you live in south Bibb County you have a new option for just that. Located in Papa John's old spot on Houston at Hartley Bridge Road, Happy Dragon serves up plenty of food for a moderate price.
We started with the Pu Pu platter because ... well, we just like to say Pu Pu. For $8.59 it's also a pretty good deal. You get egg rolls, chicken wings, shrimp tempura, crab rangoon, fried wontons, BBQ spareribs, chicken teriyaki and spring rolls. Filled with crunchy vegetables and fried to perfection, the spring rolls and egg rolls were the highlight of the platter. The chicken wings were next on the list, juicy without too much sauce. Another favorite was the crab rangoon, lovely little pockets of cream cheese and crab wrapped up in wonton wrappers. The spareribs and chicken teriyaki were a bit dry and did not look appetizing, but the flavor was OK.
We also tried several traditional soups, including egg drop, wonton, and hot and sour soup. While these were absolutely fine, there was nothing especially notable about them.
Because we came at lunch time, we were able to try many entrees for a very reasonable price. On weekdays, the lunch buffet is only $4.99 and is quite a deal. However, we visited on a Sunday, so we ordered several combination plates, ranging in price from $5.75 to $6.50. At dinner, Happy Dragon has a unique way of pricing their menu items; you may order a small or a large version of the dish for about $2 difference.
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We enjoy spicy dishes, so we ordered General Tso's chicken, Hunan chicken and spicy Szechuan shrimp. The best of the three was the General Tso's, with just enough heat to excite your mouth without burning it. The Hunan chicken was a little chewy and not very spicy. The shrimp dish, made with red chili pepper sauce, was pleasantly warm. Our non-spicy entr?e, the sweet and sour chicken, was tasty but nothing unusual - but when you order sweet and sour chicken, you don't really want unusual, so you?
Other good deals on the menu include the family dinners, ranging in price from $16.99 for two people to $32.99 for four. The family deal includes soup for each person, egg rolls and an entr?e per person. The entrees include sweet and sour chicken, Mongolian beef and moo goo gai pan. This would be a fun option for a small adventurous group wanting to try several dishes at once.
My advice would be to try it out during lunch time after you're sick of holiday food and broke. The portions (or the buffet) will fill even the most bottomless stomach, and the taste is nothing like your Aunt Mildred's sweet potato souffl? with the marshmallows.
5616 Houston Road
two and a half stars
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10:30 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, noon-9:30
Payment: Cash, credit card, debit card
Price range: $4.99-$12.55
Health rating: 99
Kids menu: Yes
Vegetarian options: Yes
Noise level: Low
Wheelchair accessible: Yes