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Dragon Rouge

Local favorite expands to new space by the Oakland-Alameda Estuary

 

Patch spoke with Dan Nguyen about Dragon Rouge’s relocation to the former Aroma Restaurant site.

Owners: Dan Nguyen, Jimmy Luu and Scott Luu.

Dragon Rouge opened in 2007 just a block away from Alameda High. How are all those students going to get to you now that you moved next to the Park Street bridge? We’re only about a block from , so students can just shoot over after practice. We’re going to miss our old location, but sometimes it’s hard to find parking in that area. Here, we have a parking lot right next to the Park Street Bridge.

What are you keeping the same and what are you changing? The menu’s the same, though we will probably do a lot of specials. But the main menu is our bread and butter. My aunt, Mai Cao [Jimmy and Scott’s mother], is still here. She does everything!

The ambiance, the colors — we’re trying to keep everything consistent. A lot of the staff are the same. We’ve also picked up some of the Aroma staff who were here for years and years.

The only thing different is it’s bigger so we can accommodate bigger parties. This is quadruple the size. Our old location had about 1,300 square feet and seated 35 people and it was tight. This location has 5,000 square feet inside and can seat 100 people very comfortably. And there’s another 2,000 square feet outside that we haven’t even touched yet. That’s our next focus — to make the patio very comfortable and homey. I imagine some fire pits, umbrellas, some cabanas. With the coming, there’s going to be some beautification of the shoreline along the estuary.

What has been the key to your success in Alameda? Vietnamese food is very popular now and we’ve managed to keep our authentic Vietnamese cuisine yet add a little flair to it to make it more exciting. Ever since we were featured on Check, Please! in July, business has been amazing. We’ve had people drive here from Sacramento, Napa and even as far as Bakersfield.

All of us in the partnership have grown up here in Alameda. We are family people and we try to treat our guests like family, like they’re over in our house.

Dragon Rouge is now located at 2337 Blanding Avenue. Telephone: 521-1800.

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Lisbeth Allen February 15, 2012 at 04:16 PM
We have eaten at Aroma several times. I always appreciated the potential of what a great space they had there on the water. I'm pleased to see that Dragon Rouge has already renovated it to be worthy of that space. Hopefully, they will have outdoor seating on the deck also.
Oz Beckers February 15, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I'm gonna miss being able to get to Dragon Rouge with mere footsteps from my house! Very happy to hear though there is a parking lot.
Frances Montell February 15, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I look forward to enjoying a delicious Dragon Rouge meal with a waterfront view!
Carol February 15, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Wishing Dragon Rouge the best of luck in their new larger location. Looking forward to dining there. The food is yummy!
LL February 16, 2012 at 02:56 AM
I'm happy that DR will be closer to me! Yay. And if they have waterfront seating, even better.
Dan February 16, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Thanks for all the good wishes. Our family is trying our hardest to adjust to the volume while keeping the small family restaurant feel. We hope people are understanding while we are transitioning and ironing out the kinks. We should be in full swiing in a couple of weeks I imagine. For now we are open for dinner everyday and lunches on weekends. Dan Nguyen Dragon Rouge
Tom Brody February 19, 2012 at 09:37 PM
We had supper at Dragon Rouge last night (February 19, 2012), and were pleasantly surprised at the size of the happy crowd inside. At first, I was impressed by the wooden archway in the foyer, then I was impressed by the frosted mirror with the map of Vietnam. Also, I liked the view of the water, and of the grain elevators across the water. People go to Dragon Rouge, mostly for the food, right? Grain elevators are built only for one purpose -- food, right? And so, I found the view of the grain elevators to be abundantly compatible with the present task, namely, the task of perusing the menu. I decided on the mango beef. Dragon Rouge is more than just a fine restaurant, it is a great addition to the cultural aspects of Alameda Island. Other cultural aspects of Alameda include, e.g., German Speisekammer, Habanas Cuban Cuisine on Park St., the ballet academy on Park Stret, Altarena on High Street, and the Hornet museum on the western edge of town. Gertrude Stein once characterized Oakland by her legendary phrase, "There is no "there" there." But she won't be saying the same thing about Alameda, Island.
Frances Montell February 20, 2012 at 12:09 AM
btw, you know that Gertrude Stein was not making a cultural criticism of Oakland, right? She grew up in Oakland, but later when she went back to visit her childhood house she couldn't find it and that is why she said "There is no there there."
Tom Brody February 20, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Thanks for the clarification, F.M. Yours, T.B.

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