This happens to be the Year of the Dragon, the only animal in the Chinese zodiac that is make-believe. Queen Tiye's face lights up at the mention of the fire-breathing monster.
The mythical beast is a symbol of power and she emphasises as any sharp-tongued creature. "No, it is not a huge-winged prehistoric lizard," she shot a glance at the Platinum Blonde.
We were all keeping our eyes peeled for Dragon House on Road Nine, Maadi, and sure enough Queen Tiye spotted it. Dragon House is perched right above a delicatessen-style charcuterie, one of the few remaining such shops in Cairo.
"This is not the Year of the Boar," Queen Tiye snapped in exasperation. "I saw you ogling the butcher," she blurted out as the Platinum Blonde blushed, turning shocking pink. "No, I wasn't," she told Queen Tiye off, obviously a little flabbergasted. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Platinum Blonde feels Queen Tiye's indictment was unjust.
"I suppose you'll be having Moo Shu Pork," Queen Tiye spits out with dark merriment. "Chop suey chicken, actually," came the swift and equally contentious answer. It was at this point that I quickly manage to change the subject. "Ladies," I chortle and Queen Tiye titters.
The conventional wisdom about Chinese restaurants is that they serve pork. That is not usually the case in Cairo. But as it happens, Dragon House does.
If 2012 is Asia's year, then The Dragon House, is arguably a winner. Chinese restaurants in Egypt vary as far as the quality and authenticity of the cuisine is concerned. However, they are sufficiently different not to be accused of reworking an old seam.
The lunch crowd at the Dragon House is beginning to thin out as we enter. A group of distinguished looking Chinese ladies were chatting merrily in the private meeting room. Dragon House glistens with emerald green and ruby red lacquer. Crimson traditional Chinese lanterns dangle from the ceiling. It was against this feisty backdrop that I scour the menu. I notice the waiter hovering with hors d'oeuvre uppermost on his mind.
Oriental exclusivity is the theme of the Dragon Group that manages Dragon House and a host of other Asian restaurants such as China House, Thai House, Sushi House and India House. These restaurants are not restricted to Cairo but are to be found scattered all over the country, especially large seaside cities and resorts such as Alexandria and Sharm El-Sheikh.
Its location is wonderful, too. It is a magnet for those seeking refuge from the traditional Chinese restaurants that spice up the Maadi scene. At the moment, devotees of Dragon House hope that the authentic Asian atmosphere will really catch on as a viable alternative to more traditional Chinese restaurants in Maadi. Dragon House serves Thai and Indian dishes as the names of the chefs on the menu indicate. Dilip Singh, a Sikh I suppose; Pan Chengzhen; Bao Tiejing, Ma Pinggang and Ma Xiaolong.
Dragon House is a different kettle of fish -- Pan Asian. Seafood dishes included in the Chinese and Thai menu offer a wide range of the denizens of the deep prepared in a plethora of ways: prawns in Thai red curry with pineapple or fried fish doused with a coconut sauce.
The Chinese seafood menu is equally extensive. China House Butterfly Shrimp and Barbecue Squid are two examples. And, of course, there is Kun Pao prawn and squid. The waiter proceeds to describe each dish in some detail.
Firm-fleshed meaty fish arrives on sizzling hot plates. It is hearty and plentiful. Checking out other guests is a favourite pastime of the Platinum Blonde. Asian restaurants can appear over-decorative, and the waiters in Dragon House sport scarlet jackets. It all was too psychedelically colourful, a potpourri for the Platinum Blonde.
Connoisseurs who fancy lamb ought to glance at the Indian menu which features lamb in onion and cashew sauce.
Tea ordered, we turned to the dessert menu. To our horror we had only two options -- banana in coconut milk and stuffed pancake with crispy coconut.
Road Nine, Maadi, Cairo