Monday, 26 July 2010

Goldfish City (Gresham Street) review - Bank's Chinese karaoke and dim sum restaurant

Address: 46 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7AY
Tel: 020 7726 0308
Nearest Tube station: Bank

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £50 pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: ***
Service: ****
Ambience: ****
I was quite hesitant when I first received an invitation for Goldfish City, Goldfish's latest foray into the Square Mile at Bank's Gresham Street. The reason is clear - I didn't have the best of experience over at its flagship restaurant at Hampstead during my first and only visit. I had an issue with its so called dim sum buffet, which in my opinion, isn't really a buffet and its service that I would expect from staff at the the £4.95 Mr Wu's buffet at Leicester Square.


Not only that, the fact that Goldfish City does bento takeaways (£7) is also featured prominently in its opening press release. I couldn't help which market is Goldfish City targeting at. Its menu features exotic dishes like its award winning mocha ribs and chilean sea bass, yet it catered for karaoke parties in its basement and at the same time doing bento sets during lunch as well. But Wife helpfully reminded me that its location, a short walk from Bank station, means that there would be almost no human traffic during the weekends. That probably explains why Goldfish City is casting its net wide.

A polyester banner with the words "Modern Chinese and Dim Sum" hangs outside Goldfish City. Perhaps an oversight that not a great deal of people in the City heard of Goldfish or could read the Chinese characters (translated as Goldfish restaurant) embossed on its facade.


Truth to be told, I was rather impressed by what I saw when Wife and I stepped into the restaurant. An entire wall on its ground floor is dedicated to an old movie poster (Daydreams) adds to the nolstagia of the place. The wall opposite it had an entire poem embossed on it. Wife promptly mentioned that it was one that she came across as a kid. Nice one.


Denzel, the head waiter, who has been with the restaurant for a great number of years, helpfully went through the menu with us. It helps that the head chef Kevin Chow who hails from Johor Malaysia, was with Four Seasons and Grand Hyatt hotels in Singapore in the nineties and there is this familiar touch in his repatoire.

"Our award winning mocha ribs is a must try."

I was already eying the dish even before Denzel suggested that. For the starters however, we asked for a small dim sum platter, deep fried softshell crab and Chef's special pumpkin broth.


Pumpkin broth came with brocolli and mushroom bits. It was one of the most flavourful pumpkin soup that I have ever tasted and the coriander leaves on it added that much needed zest. Then again, I don't come across the pumpkin variety much, not in London anyway. But its thickness and richness would not disappoint fans of the late summer-autumn fruit.


Wife was impressed with Goldfish City's softshell crab. We have had this at quite a number of Japanese restaurants but its the five spice that is added that makes all the difference in Goldfish City's version. I thought the oil used was a tad old but it didn't spoil the crab at all. Not one bit.


Was a bit surprised (and Denzel as well, I guess) when Wife ordered the dim sum platter. "I just feel like having dim sum," was her response. I didn't quite like the dim sum over at Goldfish Hampstead and the fare served so late on a Friday night wouldn't really be fresh, would it? It wasn't as bad as I thought. Though the dim sum's skin was a bit mushy (from spending too much time in the steamer I suppose) but the prawns and other ingredients remained relatively fresh.


The mocha ribs finally arrived after the bout of starters. You can't really fault its presentation. Stacked up like a pile of campfire firewood topped with some whole almond nuts. To give Goldfish City some credit, its mocha gravy was thick and packed a punch and the addition of almond is nothing short of genius (imagine nutty mocha). I thought the mocha flavour could have been better infused into the ribs. Not alot of people can take the the ribs cooked in coffee - this is one of those dishes that you either hate or love.


Crispy prawns with passion fruit mayo was up next. The dish is essentially three battered prawns doused in succulent sweet passion fruit mayo. This dish was a bit underwhelming for my taste and I couldn't help but feel that passion fruit just didn't go together with the battered prawns, which has gone a bit soft.


Green fried rice with eggs and yuzi (pomelo) juice is a first for me. The rice wasn't exactly green but came with a very pale tinge of green due to yuzi. Apparently, Goldfish City's Chef Chow doesn't believe in using MSG and that is especially evident in this dish. If you have had fried rice served at any other Chinese restaurants, you would most certainly require gallons of water to quench the immediate thirst. That didn’t happen over at Goldfish City. Relying on the ingredients' freshness and their inherent taste, the rice was fried to perfection. One point to note though, yuzi is anything but subtle in this dish so you might like to share a portion to get a taste of it first.


The highlight of the dinner was undoubtedly the steam fillet Chilean sea bass. It came with deep fried ginger slivers at the top, which crispiness contrasted the rich milky texture of thick sea bass fillet. Unlike the sea bass that I am used to, the milky texture of the Chilean variety reminded me of the black cod (or Xue-Yu as its known back home). Interestingly, what made this dish special is its ‘superior’ (highlighted on the menu) soya sauce. Its subtlety yet richness in flavour makes this dish a must order at Goldfish City.

A mention must be made to the two karaoke large screen LCDs in the basement. With no private booths available, you would probably need to book the entire basement (it comes with its own bar) to enjoy some privacy. An ideal location for a karaoke party I would say.

Denzel mentioned that Friday evenings tend to be a bit quiet, which is perfectly understandable given its location. And like most restaurants in the Square Mile, Goldfish City doesn’t open during weekends. However, it’s definitely worth considering if you are looking for a proper sit down Chinese restaurant in the City. Definitely try out their mocha ribs (for coffee lovers) and Chilean sea bass. Oh, did I mention that Goldfish City serve Lobster Noodles at £32 per pop as well?

Goldfish City on Urbanspoon

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Wild Boar said...

Yeah I also got an invitation to review but didn't take the option. Wasn't sure I would like it and I hate writing a negative review. Doesn't sound too bad from your experience though.

From my understanding, the Chilean Seabass = black cod.

C K said...

@Wild Boar,
I guess there's nothing wrong about writing a negative review so long that it is an honest one.

Just curious though, what made you think that you'll end up with a negative review? Have you been to its Hampstead branch before?

We thought that the Chilean Seabass tasted really like xue-yu (or black cod) but the head staff (Denzel) assured us that they aren't the same. Hmm.

Wild Boar said...

Hmm I dunno. Gut instinct? It looked like it catered to a more Western palate rather than serving "proper" Chinese food. I don't know how to say it without sounding snobbish.

Think I passed by the Hampstead branch which had a big "BUFFET" signboard as well, which is never really a good sign for quality food.

CK you're right, they're not the same! Sorry for the mistake. Random articles assumed to be accurate.

The London Foodie said...

Hi, I was there this week and was also impressed by the service and decor. The food was good with some excellent dishes like the soft shell crab and fried rice with yuzu juice but other underwhelming dishes like the dim sum, and prawns were a let down. Good review.

Luiz @ The London Foodie