Golden BBQ Noodle House
Over the years I’ve seen my fair share of the good and bad parading as Chinese restaurants, but the one my family and I come back to time and time again is Golden BBQ Noodle House. Situated in Eden Quarter off the strip now as much famed for its Oriental restaurants as it is for having a song written about it, Golden is a hidden gem.
Such is the often flexible quality of food served at Chinese restaurants that few linger for long, but Golden continues to weather the restaurant storm. And no wonder too. Golden’s greatest draw cards are their generous (and I mean generous) portions, cheap as chips prices, and consistent ‘A’ hygiene rating.
My family normally purchase takeaways from Golden, but having discovered our new favourite dish, the chilli pepper salt squid (which doesn’t transit well as you could imagine with deep-fried foods) we decided to break from habit and dine-in instead.
I hadn’t dined-in in a while, but the modestly furnished café looked just the same as always: sparse on the aesthetics, but neat and worthy of an ‘A’. The nice thing about dining-in here is that you’re treated to complimentary hot tea, which was a welcome thing on a cold Saturday noon.
True its namesake, Golden is first and foremost a BBQ noodle house, so if all you want is some good egg noodles topped with some luscious and salty roast pork (complete, of course, with crackling), all-spiced roast duck, or sweet and slightly charred barbeque pork, then this is your one-stop shop. And with all these self-contained meals costing less than $10, you’ll have change left over from a twenty.
On this visit my brother ordered (no surprises, it’s his favourite) the two-combination meats on dry egg-noodles ($9.50). The noodles are doused in a dark, richly flavoured sauce reduced from all those lovely barbequed meat juices and is accompanied by tender bok choy.
If you’re anything like me, once you’ve established your favourite things to eat at a particular restaurant, it is difficult to order outside of your trusty repertoire for fear of being disappointed. Although I’ve been guilty of ordering the same dishes over and over again (namely, the egg-plant and salty fish casserole $15, and tofu with chilli and meats), I’ve been branching out a little more recently and have discovered (and re-discovered) some dishes to add to the growing rotation of dishes.
As mentioned above, our new favoured dish is the chilli pepper salt squid ($15). I challenge you to find another place in Auckland that serves such a large and tender portion of squid for the same price. The squid here comes in large, quilted curls lightly dusted with flour, which is transformed into tender yet crisp pillows of seafood that is topped with a tasty sofrito of garlic, spring onions and tiny red chillies. Adding to the indulgence, we ordered our old-favourite, the stir-fry season bean ($14). Calling it stir-fried is a bit of a misnomer: these luscious green beans are first blanched in the deep-fryer before being finished off in the wok with a umami-mous concoction of minced pork, black beans and olives. They were easily the highlight of the meal.
Our final dish was a stir-fry of beef and ginger ($15), that came to the table hissing and spitting on a cast-iron platter (much more dramatic than the see-through takeaway containers we’re used to.) The beef was, and always will be, tender owing to the tenderiser common to most Chinese restaurants, rendering the meat soft and almost squeaky. The slices of spicy ginger are generous, the tender bamboo shoot slivers slightly less so (although this may be due to bamboo shoot poaching on the part of my aunt) and is accompanied by a medley of celery, carrot, courgette and baby corn.
Though not ordered on this occasion (Mum did try hard to convince us otherwise) a special mention must go to the braised hapuka casserole ($16), which we’ve ordered without fail on every other occasion. The fish is always fresh, and always generous, served in a golden, garlic-flecked sauce with tofu done two-ways and an abundance of vegetables. When it came time to settle the bill, the cost per head was a mere $11.25; rare to most restaurants, we weren’t charged for the three bowls of rice we ordered to accompany of dishes. There are few things in life that one’s culture automatically qualifies one to be an expert on, but being Chinese, I know good Chinese when I taste it.
If you’re ever in the area, or even out of it and looking for a good feast for a beyond reasonable price (I can’t rationalize a platter of seafood for $16 or less, can you?), Golden BBQ Noodle House should be your first port of call.