DINER: Highly Respected DTES Restaurant “Fat Dragon” Set To Close On December 22

December 16, 2012.

Andrew Morrison | I started writing my annual Top 10 Best New Restaurants column for the newspaper yesterday when I learned that the keeper of the #9 spot, Fat Dragon, was going to close for good next Saturday (December 22). It’s a bummer, for sure, that they couldn’t last nine months. My family loved the place; it was casual, affordable, and “Chinese BBQ meets Southern US spice” concepts don’t come along every day. The people, however, never fell for it the same way that the critics did (I wasn’t alone in my affections. My colleagues at the Globe & Mail, The Courier, and the Vancouver Sun also loved The Fat Dragon). I think that had lot of that had to do with the simple fact that few of them ever bothered to go, which was a bit of a shocker considering how the owners – the same people who brought us Refuel and the two Campagnolos – are highly respected for track record of uncompromising quality.

No, I suspect the real reason why it couldn’t make it was its address. Located just down the street from Oppenheimer Park, the 500 block of Powell St. hasn’t attracted much in the way of gastronomically adventurous foot traffic since the old days of Japantown. It’s unfortunate that a lot of Vancouver diners still dread the core of the Downtown Eastside as if it were an urban Hades, a place where their cars would be broken into by crack addicts and their persons robbed by HIV-infected needle-point, but I understand that nothing stifles an appetite quite like anxiety, however baseless and prejudicial the anxiety might be. What is true, however, is that many of my neighbours on the DTES didn’t give the Fat Dragon a warm reception. The owners were (sadly, predictably, falsely, laughably) decried as gentrifiers by a lot of them before the restaurant was even open, and I was disgusted and ashamed to hear – just a few weeks after opening – that someone felt it necessary to introduce a pile of feces to the handle of the front door.

If Fat Dragon had opened, say, where Secret Location is in Gastown, in the old Grub space on Main, or on the 100 block of East Pender in Chinatown, I’m sure it would be thriving. Alas, no. It took a big chance by opening in the heart of the DTES, which proved – rather quickly – a bridge too far. We had our last meal there yesterday, and we hope that our readers can get in there for some noodles, fried chicken and bao buns before the 23rd.

Hats off to co-owner Tom Doughty, whose recovery from a debilitating stroke last year has been nothing short of miraculous (long may he pour). Ditto to co-owner/chef Robert Belcham, a guy whose inability to compromise on the quality of his ingredients keeps him busy, but never busy enough to keep him from his volunteer work as the thankless Marketing Manager of the Chefs Table Society of BC. Equal kudos to co-owner/chef Ted Anderson, whose first kick at the independence can was an original food concept that he can be very proud of. And much respect to the staff. I never saw a foot fall wrong at The Fat Dragon. The crew both front and back were very good at their jobs. I was glad to hear that they got plenty of notice and that a lot of them have already secured positions elsewhere.

Finally, those who like the place will be happy to remember that the owners have a 10 year lease on it. Belcham told me this afternoon that he has no plans to sell it just yet, and that there is a good chance that he and his partners will try again down the road with a new concept. My vote is for 24 hour schnitzel.

NOTE: When my Top 10 comes out in the paper next Thursday, don’t bother snickering at Fat Dragon’s inclusion. Open or closed, they earned their spot fair and square.

—————————————————————————————–

Andrew Morrison lives and works in Vancouver as editor-in-chief of Scout, food columnist at the Westender, and National Referee & Judge at the Canadian Culinary Championships. He also contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, radio programs, and television shows on local food, culture and travel; collects inexpensive things; and enjoys rare birds, skateboards, cocktails, shoes, good pastas, many songs, and the smell of camp fires.

#ScoutThis

There are 43 comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Diner Delicious restaurant intel...

STACKED | Detailing The Deliciously Different Leberkäse Sandwich At ‘Bestie’ In Chinatown

STACKED | Detailing The Deliciously Different Leberkäse Sandwich At ‘Bestie’ In Chinatown

STACKED is a new Scout column that aims to dig down into the delicious details of Vancouver’s better sandwiches and burgers. From banh mi and beef dip to… more 

OPENING SOON | ‘The Sportsbar’ At Rogers Arena Set To Bring 600+ Seats Into The Action

OPENING SOON | ‘The Sportsbar’ At Rogers Arena Set To Bring 600+ Seats Into The Action

by Andrew Morrison | Late last week I was able to tour the massive, soon-to-open sports bar on the 4th floor of the Aquilini Centre's freshly finished West… more 

INTELLIGENCE BRIEFS | On Baking Happiness & Bad Airport Burgers Bumming Out Bourdain

INTELLIGENCE BRIEFS | On Baking Happiness & Bad Airport Burgers Bumming Out Bourdain

by Talia Kleinplatz | Ever heard of a cranberry glut? Yeah, me neither. Alas, it's a real thing, and between it and this past year's drought, it's been super… more 

DINER | Vegetarian Comfort Food Eatery ‘The Arbor’ Set For Wednesday Launch On Main St.

DINER | Vegetarian Comfort Food Eatery ‘The Arbor’ Set For Wednesday Launch On Main St.

by Andrew Morrison | The Arbor, casual sister restaurant to The Acorn, opened quietly for friends and family over the weekend. Word is they're taking today… more 

STACKED | Kitsilano’s Best Burger Is Oddly Not At All Where You Would Think It Would Be

STACKED | Kitsilano’s Best Burger Is Oddly Not At All Where You Would Think It Would Be

STACKED is a new Scout column that aims to dig down into the delicious details of Vancouver’s better sandwiches and burgers. From banh mi and beef dip to… more 

INTELLIGENCE BRIEFS | On Trump Wrecking Coffee & Never Enough Cooks In The Kitchen

INTELLIGENCE BRIEFS | On Trump Wrecking Coffee & Never Enough Cooks In The Kitchen

by Talia Kleinplatz | With the holidays just around the corner, Eater is rounding up a list of the best gifts for the food lover in your life. Some great ideas… more 

HEADS UP | Chinatown’s ‘Bestie’ All Set For First ‘Schnitzel Sunday’ Service This Weekend

HEADS UP | Chinatown’s ‘Bestie’ All Set For First ‘Schnitzel Sunday’ Service This Weekend

This weekend chef Colin and the team at Bestie in Chinatown are making a move to seduce schnitzel lovers with the launch of "Schnitzel Sundays", an evening… more 

HEADS UP | Where To Stuff Your Face & Drink Like A Champ For The ‘Eastside Culture Crawl’

HEADS UP | Where To Stuff Your Face & Drink Like A Champ For The ‘Eastside Culture Crawl’

by Ken Tsui | November in Vancouver is a dreary mess, but The Eastside Culture Crawl is your best excuse to throw on your rain boots and get outside. This… more 

The scout Community

49th Parallel Coffee Roasters & Lucky’s Doughnuts Acorn Agrius Alibi Room Ancora Waterfront Dining & Patio AnnaLena Araxi Ask For Luigi Au Comptoir Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie Bar Oso Bauhaus Beach Bay Café & Patio Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe Bel Café Bestie Bishop’s Bistro Pastis Bistro Wagon Rouge Bittered Sling Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar Bottleneck Bufala Burdock & Co. Cabrito Cacao Cadeaux Bakery Café Medina Caffè Artigiano Camp Lifestyle + Coffee Co. Campagnolo Campagnolo ROMA Cartems Donuterie Chambar Chefs’ Table Society of BC Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie  Chicha Chill Winston ChocolaTas Chocolate Arts Cibo Trattoria Cinara CinCin Ristorante + Bar Cioffi’s Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill Cocktails & Canapes Catering + Events Cook Culture Culinary Capers Catering & Special Events Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen District Brasserie Dixie’s Authentic Texas BBQ Earnest Ice Cream Edible Canada Elementa Espana Exile Bistro Fable Fanny Bay Farmer’s Apprentice Fat Badger Fat Mao Fernwood Coffee Company Field & Social Forage Giovane Cafe + Eatery Gotham Steakhouse & Bar Grain Granville Island Grapes & Soda Greenhorn Espresso Bar Gyoza Bar Harkness & Co. Harvest Community Foods Hawksworth Restaurant Heirloom Heritage Asian Eatery Homer Street Cafe & Bar Hy’s Steakhouse Irish Heather Jamjar JJ Bean Joy Road Catering Juice Truck Juke Fried Chicken Juniper Keefer Bar Kin Kao Kissa Tanto Knifewear Kozakura Kuma Tofino L’Abattoir La Buca La Mezcaleria La Pentola La Quercia La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop Latab Wine Bar Les Amis du Fromage Lions Pub, The Liquidity Bistro Little District Lobby Lounge + RawBar Longtail Kitchen Made By Pacific Maenam Mamie Taylor’s MARKET by Jean-Georges Matchstick Coffee Roasters Meat & Bread Meinhardt Fine Foods Miku Restaurant Milano Coffee Minami Miradoro Mission Mister Mogiana Coffee Mosquito Nero Belgian Waffle Bar Nicli Antica Pizzeria Nightingale Nomad Nook Nuba Oakwood Canadian Bistro OLO OPUS Bar Oru Osteria Savio Volpe Oyama Sausage Co. Pallet Coffee Roasters Pat’s Pub & BrewHouse Phoenix Perennials Pidgin Pied-à-Terre Pizzeria Farina Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn, The Pourhouse Railtown Cafe Railtown Catering Rain Or Shine Ice Cream Red Wagon, The Revolver Coffee Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. Royal Dinette Sai Woo Salt Tasting Room Salty Tongue Café Savoury Chef Shaughnessy Restaurant Shebeen Whisk(e)y House Shelter Shika Provisions Siena Six Acres Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe Sorella Stable House, The Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall Tableau Bar Bistro Tacofino Tavola Terra Breads Thierry Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie Timber Timbertrain Coffee Roasters Torafuku Tractor Foods Truffles Fine Foods Two Rivers Specialty Meats UBC Farm Uncommon Cafe, The Urban Digs Farm Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise™ Program Vij’s Restaurant Virtuous Pie West Restaurant Wildebeest Wolf In The Fog YEW seafood

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was .

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was .