Chinese fare, family-style food, large portions, dine in or carry out
For many folks who associate Chinese food with take-out boxes and cheap lunches, “old world charm” is not exactly prerequisite for their favorite fried rice spot. Red Dragon House in the old Garment District downtown Kansas City, Mo., serves up the first two adequately and the last one unexpectedly. In a downtown scene scarce for cheap eats with local flavor, Red Dragon House has persisted through development projects and neighborhood revivals by virtue of customer loyalty, and practically perfect hot and sour soup.
To the untrained tongue, Chinese food might be a fairly relative cuisine that finds strength more in convenience than quality. While Red Dragon House offers that quick fix to downtown dwellers with cheap lunch specials and carryout dependability, dining in is an experience that offers a little something more. Their strength is family style food, and the buoyant serving staff sets the scene with finesse. Customers are treated to jovial chatter and helpful suggestions in a manner that might surprise those more customized to an in-and-out atmosphere at their closest Chinese express spot.
The portions, too, demand a dining partner to be fully enjoyed. The family meal special provides an array of appetizers including to-die-for crab rangoon and that delicious soup. With a wide selection of house specialties, anyone disenchanted with their usual cashew chicken will delight in trying something new. There’s plenty to go around, too, so sampling is encouraged.
Red Dragon House’s presentation benefits greatly from its location. On the ground floor of a historic converted loft building in the Garment District, Red Dragon House exudes a kind of timeless warmth from its brick walls and tall ceilings. These walls and ceilings have been around since 1899 when the building was designed by A. Van Brundt & Brother. Originally, it housed the Bond Shoe Company Building and later, Fabric Factory Outlet or the Hammer Brothers, Inc. According to an article in the Kansas City Manufacturer in August 1899, the owner, George A. Bond, promised that the factory would produce 1,000 pairs of shoes a day.
It’s no surprise that Henry Perry, so-called father of Kansas City barbeque, got his start in the neighborhood. The Garment District is now a far cry from the dense productivity of its heyday; in the In the mid-20th century, one in every seven U.S. women owned a coat, a hat or a dress made in factories in Kansas City’s Garment District. Red Dragon House is one of only four restaurants in the area proper. But the sense of community feels strong in the Red Dragon House dining room. The staff treats newcomers like regulars, and regulars like family. It’s a tradition of Kansas City food that has brought us nationwide endearment—unassuming, unpretentious, and thoroughly filling.