Drgnfly, Poole

We were told we HAD to come here pretty much as soon as it opened. Did the newest Pan-Asian persuasion in Poole live up to expectation?

Drgnfly’s interior features some authentic Oriental motifs, such as samurai armour and lanterns.
Credit: Fahim Ali

One or two friends recommended the new Pan-Asian fusion restaurant in Ashley Cross called Drgnfly seemingly only days after it had opened. I was attracted not only because of the food, but the chic and elegant décor, absent in its previous incarnation as an Irish pub. Not just the centuries-old authentic samurai uniform sitting in a glass case opposite the bar, but the trees, taxidermied exotic birds and lanterns (as pictured above).

It only seemed right that a place of such reputation should take position as our final review of 2018. And, as with most of these reviews, I was joined by a few friends. Fahim Ali, the first to endorse this restaurant to me, plus James Boxall and Aaron Hayes, (whose recent feature on Humans of Bournemouth you can find here).

The barman was so sociable and welcoming, I had to look a few times to make sure I didn’t know him. He greeted us in such a friendly manner, I was sure he was an old friend who I just hadn’t recognised. Turns out that’s just his way, but who wouldn’t want to be welcomed into a restaurant like that? Our first course of action was to have a cocktail, or a mocktail in Fahim’s case. Drgnfly prides itself on possessing a couple of clever mixologists on its bar staff, one of which, a gentleman named Jamie Barter, was instrumental in creating the Umi (see pictured).

Umi – as designed by Jamie Barter
Belvedere Vodka, Blue Curaçao, Orange Bitters, Lemon Juice, Gomme and Cranberry Juice

This striking blue, gorgeously sweet and refreshing concoction sounded something similar to a Purple Rain, with its bases in Belvedere vodka and Blue Curaçao liqueur. It was actually designed as a “reverse Sex on the Beach”, which I can appreciate. Cranberry juice and a few modern garnishes including Star Anise complete the stylish look of this drink. And, no word of a lie, it has to be one of the best cocktails I’ve tried this year, if not on this site over the past near-seven years.

Non-alcoholic Piña Colada
Credit: Fahim Ali

While mocktails weren’t on the menu, the barman was insistent he could put together any cocktail we wanted, so Fahim requested a non-alcoholic Piña Colada (see pictured).

Last time (and, indeed the first time) we tried sushi was much earlier this year, visiting Noodle Bar in Bournemouth. That experience left me feeling far more adventurous with Drgnfly’s menu. Although I will say I was deliberating over my decision for a while, I have to say now that I felt there was something lacking in the menu. A missing wow factor. Something that made me think, “Now that’s clever! I have to try that!” They have impressed enough people with the menu as it is, but if they want to push for 10/10s on this site, at least, they can afford to be more ambitious.

Credit: Fahim Ali

The first dish I tried were some of Fahim’s Edamame (see pictured), which are peas in their pods, coated in a little salt and/or chilli. It’s been an age since I last ate peas out of their pods – I was pleasantly surprised by how moreish they were.

They were a suitably light precursor to the main event, which, in my case, consisted of Eel and Cucumber Rolls and Red Dragon Rolls, the latter of which being a House Special. Fahim also had some Red Dragons, while James got involved with some Salmon Avocado Rolls. For convenience’s sake, the fresh and hand-assembled sushi was all presented to us on the same platter (as pictured below).

Top Row: Red Dragon Rolls
Second Row: Salmon Avocado Rolls
Third Row: Eel and Cucumber Rolls
Bottom Row: Red Dragon Rolls

I don’t know why people make such a fuss over eel. It has a gorgeous flavour, especially when enveloped in cucumber. I can see it making an interesting alternative combination for salads and suchlike. The star of the show was definitely the Red Dragon Rolls. Despite what the name will have you believe, these are made up from soft shell crab tempura, along with a host of other ingredients including avocado, cucumber and a spicy mayonnaise. So flavoursome and delectable – pity you only get five for the £12 you pay. Worth every morsel, mind you!

Before you grow concerned that Drgnfly is all about the sushi, don’t fret. There are other options, such as a variety of Katsu Curries. The Ton Katsu Curry (breaded pork cutlets) as sampled by James, or the Tori Katsu Curry (breaded chicken thigh) as had by Aaron. In short, there’s something for everyone, even those who are new to Pan-Asian cuisine, and everyone should give this place a try. But I stand by what I said, as feedback to the chefs, that they could afford to push the boat out more and put some truly insane things on the menu!

If all else fails, just drop by for a cocktail or two…

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