Thai Dragon, Prince of Wales Road, Norwich

Sarah BrealeyA couple of weeks ago we ventured down Norwich's Prince of Wales Road and had a meal which surpassed expectations in Hong Kong Fusion. At the time we had looked through the window of Thai Dragon, a Norwich stalwart whose decor is beginning to show its age, but passed it up in favour of its more recently refurbished neighbour.Sarah Brealey

A couple of weeks ago we ventured down Norwich's Prince of Wales Road and had a meal which surpassed expectations in Hong Kong Fusion. At the time we had looked through the window of Thai Dragon, a Norwich stalwart whose decor is beginning to show its age, but passed it up in favour of its more recently refurbished neighbour. Hong Kong Fusion was pretty good, but as the wise man said, nice decor doth not a good meal make, at least not on its own. So walking down Prince of Wales Road again, craving something spicy, we decided to give Thai Dragon a try. Perhaps this was an area we had been overlooking as a gastronomic destination. Thai Dragon's USP is an 'all you can order for �12.99' deal. Seeing as you can pay around this amount for Chinese or Malaysian buffets in the city, but here they prepare the food and bring it to you as you order it, I reckon this is a pretty good deal.

Of course, all the dishes are rather smaller than they would be if you were paying for them separately, which seems fair enough when you can order as many of them as you want. The effect is a bit like Asian tapas, with lots of small dishes. This is a set-up that encourages gluttony - especially if, like me, you are the sort of person that likes to get your money's worth. And so we had a trio of starters - Thai spring rolls, wontons and curry triangles. All were quite small, which in the case of the wontons meant that there was a lot more pastry than filling. The spring rolls were much the same as spring rolls usually are. They all benefited from the sweet chilli sauce served with them, and they were garnished with one of those floral sculptures made of carrot which Thai restaurants seem to specialise in.


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Then there were the soups - which were supposed to be a vegetable soup Tom Yum for me, and a chicken Tom Yum soup for me, but in fact two chicken soups arrived - which I viewed as something of a failure, especially when the chicken soup was wrongly described when it arrived at the table. Once the mistake had been put right, both were very pleasant, with a balance of heat and zesty sourness, with notes of lime juice and ginger. Then we ordered some mains, prawns with mange tout for him, and mixed vegetable red curry for me. And because we are greedy, and because we could, we shared another main of fine beans in yellow bean sauce. The green curry was the best of the bunch, with layers of flavour and just enough heat to make your nose run. The prawns and the beans turned out to taste quite similar, in a brown sauce reminiscent of soy sauce. We also ate some pleasing, light steamed rice and some noodles with bean sprouts, which also tasted a bit like soy sauce.

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Now I should say that the main dishes were really quite small, but when the waitress asked us if we wished to order more mains, we thought hey, why not, and ordered a chicken green curry and a vegetable green curry. The dishes are presumably adjusted for English tastes, being mildly spicy rather than searingly hot as the Thais generally like it. We finished with a banana fritter which reminded me what an inspired dessert this is, with its crispy outside and soft fruit within. A scoop of ice-cream on the side provided the required temperature contrast. We also had longan, a white-fleshed fruit (presumably tinned) which is similar to a lychee or rambutan. We drank one of the house wines, a bottle of Thai red, partly because we had never had any Thai wine before. It was quite a light, easy drinking tipple, made from a mixture of Thai and Shiraz grapes. And so we departed, just on the right side of ready to explode, having been reminded of two slightly surprising facts. Prince of Wales Road is not a bad place to head to for dinner after all. And banana fritters really are worth eating.

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Need to know:

-Where is it? he Thai Dragon restaurant is at 20 Prince of Wales Road, Norwich.

-Parking? Try Riverside.

-Do I need to book? Not generally, but it can get busy on Friday and Saturday nights. Telephone 01603 627775.

-Is there disabled access? The restaurant and toilet are on one level but the toilet is not adapted for wheelchairs.

-When is it open? Every day.

-How much? �12.99 for the all-you can order, or otherwise main dishes start around �5. There are cheaper lunch deals too.

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