Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Golden Dragon dimsum - smooth century egg congee and glorious egg tarts


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Address: 28-29 Gerrard St, London W1D 6JW
Phone: 020 7734 1073
Nearest Tube station:
Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £30pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: ***
Service: **
Ambience: ***
TT spent a lazy Sunday afternoon having a spot of dimsum.

The dim sum lunch is to the Chinese what the roast dinner is to the British. A time to bond and relax with family and friends over a weekend meal. Chinese migrants look for a good dim sum restaurant almost as soon as they land in a foreign land. It is their link to their old way of life, a culinary bridge between their past and their future. I have overheard conversations between Chinese of different backgrounds, with different accents and yet inevitably the topic of where to go for dim sum always comes up.

I was at Golden Dragon one Sunday for dim sum with a couple of friends and their little children in tow. Chinese restaurants are almost always perfect for little children. They might not have your swanky child changing facilities but no one ever minds a bawling child in a Chinese restaurant and according that makes dining out much more relaxing for the parents . This is perhaps why families (Chinese and otherwise) love their dim sum lunches. I counted at least four or other five groups with children in their party while we were at Golden Dragon.

Golden Dragon is built with huge crowds in mind. It occupies two floors with the ground floor being one big open area. It even has a stage which is essential for a big traditional Chinese weddings. The happy couple would go up there with their families, cut the wedding cake and toast their guests. When we were there the stage doubled up as a dining area. Tables were laid on the stage and customers were dining as though it was perfectly normal to eat on a stage! It was our first time here and I found that promising - business must be so good that they needed all the space they could get. Indeed queues were snaking outside the entrance as lunchtime approached.

We ordered our usual dim sum favourites - fried dumplings, cuttlefish pancakes, char siew bao, prawn cheong fun, egg tarts.

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The adults found the deep fried wanton a miss with its doughy texture but perhaps unsurprising the toddlers loved it grabbing them by the fistful with lashings of mayonnaise that accompanied it.

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The fried cuttlefish cakes hit the right notes too with its firm and meaty texture

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The char siew bao was light and fluffy which complemented the sweet meat filling well

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Egg tarts' crispy pastry gave way easily to a glorious creamy custard with just the slightest wobble

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Cheong fun was a slight let down. The rice noodle roll should be smooth and silky but here the roll was thick and one could not tell if the filling was indeed prawn or otherwise.

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We had better luck with our century egg congee. Congee had its moment of glory in The Hangover 2 when the groom to be was informed by his Thai father-in-law (with great contempt) that he should stick to congee as it was the food for the young or infirm. It is simply rice cooked in broth and is popular in many South-East Asian cuisines. Believed to be good for digestion it is a dish for everyone and could be eaten for breakfast lunch or dinner. Century egg is a preserved duck egg which when prepared is not unlike amber in appearance. With a pungent smell and a rubbery texture it is an ingredient which divides opinions.

Our group happens to love it and Golden Dragon served up a decent version. The smooth congee here was the perfect companion to the slivers of century egg. More essentially, it came with its trusty sidekick, the crispy you tiao or dough sticks that provided a contrast in textures which is essentially what dim sum is all about.

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We finished off our meal with a Chiu Chow fried hor fun, ordered simply because it was the closest thing to the savoury dry fried flat rice noodles that we were accustomed to. It might not have the smoky taste that truly distinguishes a wok fried plate of noodles but judging from how quickly it disappeared off the plate it was not too far off the mark.

Dim sum at Golden Dragon was one of the best we had in London. The food might not be of Michelin standards like Hakkasan but it was decent and its cheery bustling atmosphere might just be the antidote to the wood panelled corporate dining environment that Chinese dining seems to have become these days.

Also check out its sister restaurant - Royal Dragon


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