Golden Century

 

Tel: +61 2 9212 3901
Address: 393-399 Sussex Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia
Cuisine Type: Chinese seafood

A busy Boxing Day evening meant that although we had turned up early, we still had to wait 20 minutes for our table. I was glad I had booked as others had to wait two hours. Once seated, out came the Welcoming Soup. Although complimentary, my two accompanying matriarchal food connoisseurs pronounced it high quality: it was a real herbal soup with visible chinese almonds and wolfberries.

A large plate of white carapace and jumbled claws (salt and pepper snow crab) followed, which was greeted with silent wonder then silent eating enjoyment as the two ladies (and I) tucked in with gusto. We also ordered a steamed silver perch with ginger and shallot. Each piece of seafood was fetched from the live tanks lining the wall and brought to our table for inspection before cooking. The fish convulsed with freshness and the snow crab limply waved its claws at us. A delicious side of king mushroom was accompanied by steamed bean curd stuffed with minced prawns.

Everything was perfectly cooked; the crab crisp and fresh, the fish steamed to the microsecond, the bean curd an appropriately bland counterpoint but sweet with the scent of infused prawn. The king mushroom was developed as a vegetarian alternative to abalone, but its silky firm texture alone makes me prefer it to the sea creature. It was flavoured in a very “meaty” sense, I suspect there was generous use of lard – if not beef dripping – but the overall impression was a luxurious pale side of mushroom.

On another occasion here, I’d eaten King Crab cooked three ways: salt and pepper, ginger and spring onion and the roe in noodles. These were a beautiful rich orange colour, but still delicately flavoured to allow the seafood nature to permeate without the excessive iodine-tinge that can sometimes mar the enjoyment of roe.

My mum’s friend remarked that the lightning-fast but eerily silent waiters looked like they were Hong Kong trained.

Complimentary dessert arrived: small deep-fried sesame doughnut balls without filling and three slivers of banana-scented buttercake. The dessert perfectly balanced the meal as the plain doughnut balls were just sweet enough but not heavy and took the edge off the savoury main meal. The small slice of light-as-air butter cake was infused with banana essence – the best way to make cake according to my mum. I don’t think my mum can remember the last time she ate out where the meal actually exceeded her expectations.

The seafood is at market price but our meal for three did not exceed AU$80, excluding wine.

The vibe is buzzing with loud Cantonese talk, the clacking of chopsticks on ceramic and the rare burst of synthesiser Happy Birthday played over the music system. It’s the modern Hong Kong dining hall where waitresses have walkie-talkies. Not a place for an intimate dining experience but perfectly suited for large gatherings and groups – I have organised a dinner for 25+ people, spaced over three tables, with no problem.

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