Dragon Fenix: Finally, Good Chinese Food

That plate won’t be clean much longer.

Ordering Chinese food is about as American as it gets. Maybe that sounds a little oxymoronic, but it’s true. I think you’d have a hard time finding someone in the states who hasn’t ordered Chinese food before. If you’re looking for good Chinese food in Colombia, there’s a great restaurant in Medellín. It’s called the Dragon Fenix.

The Chinese-owned restaurant isn’t hard to find because it’s at a popular intersection in Belén, the northeast curve of the roundabout at Calle 33 and Carrera 80.

A friend recommended the place to me earlier this year, and he was right about the food. It was really good, definitely authentic. I had eaten Chinese food twice already since moving to Medellín, but the food wasn’t memorable. I can’t even remember the name of the restaurants.

As I sat in the Dragon Fenix, waiting for my chicken chow mein, I got even hungrier. My friend Mauro called to talk to me about a teaching job, and when I told him where I was, he said, “I love that place! I’ve been going there for years!”

The food didn’t take long to come; it only seemed that way because I was so hungry and anticipating a good meal. There was enough chow mein for two, along with two rolls, even though I got the small order.

It was 14,500 pesos, about $7.50. A large order costs 22,500 pesos, or about $11.25.

Normally, I would have saved half of my food for lunch the next day. But it was so good, I couldn’t stop eating. Just a little bit of hot sauce, a little bit of soy sauce, and it was perfect. About five minutes later, the food was gone.

The menu has most things you would find at an authentic Chinese restaurant, everything from fried rice to chop suey with your choice of chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, fish or combination plates that offer several of them.

The only things missing are dim sum and a couple of popular soups, egg drop and hot and sour. But there’s wonton soup and the rest of the menu more than makes up for what’s lacking.

Something else to keep in mind: that intersection, Calle 33 and Carrera 80, is a trendy nightlife area of the city. The restaurant is open until 10 p.m., so maybe a stop there for a late dinner is a good way to go if you plan to party in this corner of Belén. The rice or noodles or whatever you order will soak up the alcohol nicely.

It worked well for me. The place might be good luck too. A five-minute stop at the casino after dinner netted me enough money for rumba. I don’t remember getting a fortune cookie that night, but it doesn’t matter. Good food is good food and good luck is good luck.

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  1. Good article. It’s always good to have decent chinese food available.

    I have some questions regarding finding an apartment in Medellin. I plan on moving there in August. Would I be able to find a decent, safe apartment in the $200-$300 usd range? Any certain barrios you can recommend? Is it easy to get the electricity turned on? I require high-speed internet, how is the process of buying this service. Is it a hassle for a foreigner? Thanks so much.

    • You can find a room to rent in the nicer neighborhoods of Poblado, Envigado, Laureles and Belen Malibu for $300/month, but apartments that cheap are going to be in less desirable locations, like Centro (downtown).

      It’s easier to look once you arrive. Try http://compartoapto.com for room rentals.

      If you’re renting an apartment, it should come with the utilities. If you’re looking to buy, then you may have to take care of that stuff yourself.

    • thanks! and i may have found another place that might be good. looks good. still have to try it.

      good luck with the room/apartment search. of the neighborhoods dave gave you, belén is probably the cheapest, and it’s still a great neighborhood, centrally located with everything you could want. i’d recommend the area along carrera 76, between calle 33 and calle 30. you’d be close to the nightlife to the north on 33, and also close to the tiendas to the south along 30, where you can get fruits, vegetables and meat for great prices. the metro plus (rapid transit bus) also stops along 30, right around 76. if you’re willing to pay a bit more, laureles is great too. it has all the amenities you’d want — nightlife, tiendas, public transportation.

      hope that helps!

  2. That restaurant sounds so interesting to visit.. It cost much higher than other restaurants but you are paying good food so that’s okay..
    I’m still wishing to go to Medellin, I need to get a visa. I’ve read lot of interesting articles about the place and I really want to go there..

  3. Thanks for the recommendation, but it was definitely nothing special…

    I just came back from the place with the following impressions:
    .- I was the only guest in the restaurant -> on a Thursday night…
    – The restaurant was small, dark and the room was in no way welcoming
    – The food was o.k. -> not “amazing” as you wrote
    – The only Chinese I saw was the cook -> great signal for being authentic…
    – On top: No chop sticks available -> No I felt like in China…

    Sorry, but I cannot recommend that place. I lived for some time in China and Korea so I know what I am talking about. This restaurant definitely doesn’t deserve an own article here on the page.

    • Hi Thomas, thanks for sharing your feedback.

      After experiencing authentic Sichuan food in Chengdu in 2008, my expectations about what constitutes good Chinese food will never be the same. I still miss the spicy pork dumplings.

      Let us know if you do manage to find a good Chinese restaurant in the city. I haven’t tried any, at all, here.

      If I want Asian, I either go for sushi, or to Royal Thai.

    • hey thomas, i understand what you’re saying. the key is to look at it in comparison to other places in medellin. i’m from hawaii and i’ve spent a lot of time in san francisco and new york so i know what real chinese food is, and nothing in medellin can match it. but i have yet to find a place in medellin better. if you know of one, please tell me. i would love to try it 🙂

  4. I have to concur with various comments concerning this restaurant…no way can I call it chinese food first the fried rice was not done correctly it is done with pork , not ham.I am still looking for a real chinese restaurant with real authentic chinese food Don´t waste your time at Dragon Fenix…

    • hey ken, as i told thomas, it’s not authentic chinese compared to what i’ve eaten in hawaii (where i grew up), and during my many trips to new york and san francisco. it’s just the best i’ve found here. but i am hoping to find something better and if you find something let me know and i’ll check it out. like dave said, if you’re looking for something authentic, royal thai is definitely the best when it comes to asian food. well, except the dishes are not as spicy as real thai dishes, but that’s fine by me. i like spicy but thai spicy is wicked hot!