Dragon Bowl Fires Up Healthy Eating

The blazing mural, painted by Brandon Sadler, depicts a guardian dragon that watches over the guests.

Becca Pirkle

The blazing mural, painted by Brandon Sadler, depicts a guardian dragon that watches over the guests.

From the creators of Atlanta’s beloved Osteria and Doc Chey’s restaurants, Dragon Bowl opened in 2014 to serve the families, hospital and college community in Emory Village. The restaurant runs by their motto, “Keep it simple, keep it fresh, keep it real.”

Crisp, locally grown vegetables are delivered to the restaurant each morning. Then, as the chef starts chopping vegetables, grilling meats, and stirring up rice, Dragon Bowl’s creative, Asian-inspired dishes come to life.

While the Doc Chey’s concept is mostly Chinese and Japanese, Dragon Bowl’s menu offers a fusion of Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisines.

“I’d say the cuisine is inspired by us wanting to do something a little different, but healthy as well,” Chad Anderson, manager of Dragon Bowl, said.

At Dragon Bowl, the sauces are placed on the table instead of going directly on the meal like at Doc Chey’s. This allows customers to control the sodium content of their meals. You can flood your bowl with Korean and satay sauces, which contain very little sodium. For a more traditional Chinese or Japanese bowl, you can add teriyaki or sweet and sour sauce.

“For the most part there is much less sodium, much less sugar,” Anderson said.

On a Tuesday night, the restaurant was relatively quiet, save for the calm music and sounds of chefs at work in the kitchen. Soft yellow lights created a relaxed, homey atmosphere, and a woman laughed as her young daughter made chopsticks dance in her fingers. A fiery dragon mural across the dining room wall aroused a craving for something different.

One of the specials served at Dragon Bowl is pan-seared catfish with cilantro pesto and an apple cider vinaigrette. “Not very traditional at all,” Anderson said, “we just put an Asian flair on it.”

I ordered the Shanghai Dumplings as an appetizer. The noodles were steamy and delicious, and if you like pork and ginger, then the dumplings are for you.

Next came the main course, the anticipated dragon bowl. I ordered a dish called BiBimBap, which is inspired by a Korean rice bowl. The bowl was filled with a fluffy egg and fresh greens, placed over dragon rice, grilled ribeye, and sprouts with Korean barbeque sauce drizzled lightly on top. I dug in.

Each bite brought a new taste and texture: the crunchy brightness of cucumber with nutty, chewy brown rice, various greens and wilted spinach on a piece of tender, thinly sliced ribeye, a bite of fried egg with steamed zucchini. The moist, watery greens balanced out the drier rice and meat elements, creating the perfect consistency.

“It’s definitely grown on people and the college kids as well,” Anderson said. “We’re seeing a lot of the student athletic body, and that’s helped other people recognize that just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good.”

Dragon Bowl is located right next to Emory college, and the funky, bright artwork along with the unique food makes Dragon Bowl a great place to go to with friends and family. One bite of their fresh vegetables mixed in a bold combination, and your tastebuds will soar.

“Today’s consumer is becoming more and more educated about what they should and shouldn’t eat, and they want to have a bowl that is both satisfying and good for you,” Anderson said.