Sandy You, David Lee, Tom Hom
While David Lee loves living in Bellmawr, N.J., he takes great pride in venturing to South Philly as the owner of Happy Dragon Chinese Restaurant, 2047 S. Third St., as he considers the area, particularly its Whitman section, quite friendly. Since 1982, he and his family have delighted locals with traditional dishes and warm dispositions.
“We care very much about preparing our items because we know that South Philly people love Chinese food,” the proprietor said from the 35-seat establishment with a thriving delivery presence, too. “This is a very good location as well, so we can connect with our neighbors easily.”
Lee owes his business acumen to uncle Johnny Wong, whose entrepreneurial spirit bred Happy Dragon’s original location at Fifth Street and Oregon Avenue, along with heritage-honoring spots in South Jersey, and Malvern. He and his staff have offered an ambient dining experience, complete with classical music, at the present address for eight years and have never lacked for a strong presence in the community, including a commendation from a philanthropic titan in Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars New Year’s Brigade, which last month helped The Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House with a wish list items Thanksgiving event.
“We rely on traditional offerings, and people think of those as comfort foods,” he said. “So, I’m happy every day to see that they get that satisfaction because we feel at one with them.”
In forging a steady connection with consumers, the Happy Dragon overseers and hires rely on a 17-section-strong menu, with promotional material mentioning “wonderful appetizers” and “succulent seafood choices.” If diners desire a poultry pick-me-up, they can find a filling option by heading to the Chef’s Specialties header, under which they will find the General Tso’s Chicken, whose recipe appears this week.
“Good food can certainly involve many, many steps,” Lee said. “However, it can have only a few procedures, too, and I think that’s what can be so special about Chinese food. The chicken, for example, is simple but that doesn’t take away from the taste or the fun of saying you made something for yourself or your family.”
2 pounds of skinless, boneless
chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of salt
1–1/2 teaspoons of white pepper
6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
3 teaspoons of white vinegar
3 teaspoons of sugar
Heat the oil to 375 degrees.
Coat the chicken with the cornstarch, and combine the poultry with the other ingredients in a large pan. Mix everything smoothly. Cover the food, and let cook for two minutes. Consider serving with soy sauce and white rice. SPR
Happy Dragon Chinese Restaurant
2047 S. Third St.
Owner: David Lee
Opened: 2008 (current location)
Photos by Tina Garceau