Location: Sussex St, Sydney
Date: 26 Dec, 2004
Over the Christmas/New Year period I had the good fortune to eat at Golden Century Seafood Restaurant twice more within the span of a week. Very indulgent, I know, but hey they were both special occassions. The first one was with my mother and her friend; both from Malaysia and starved of good quality Cantonese food in Wellington.
Although we had turned up early, we still had to wait 20 minutes for our table. The function room was booked out on Boxing Day and I was glad I had called ahead as there was a two-hour wait for people that turned up at the door. My mother's eyes grew big at the King crabs in the tanks in the window and I promised that we'd order salt and pepper snow crab. Once seated, I asked my mother's friend to order in Cantonese as I thought that this might guarantee us special treatment. I needn't have worried as they brought out the Welcoming Soup. Although complimentary, this was judged to be of extremely high quality by my two matriach food connoisseurs as it was a real herbal soup with visible chinese almonds and wolfberries.
Salt and pepper snow crab followed, which was greeted with silent wonder, and more silent eating enjoyment as the two ladies (and myself) tucked in with gusto. My mother doesn't say a lot when eating and this time was even more quiet but looking really concentrated. I could tell that she was enjoying this a lot. We also ordered a steamed silver perch with ginger and shallot. A very tasty river fish, an unusual treat for mum and friend as it is forbidden to sell freshwater fish in New Zealand. A delicious side of king mushroom was accompanied by steamed bean curd with minced prawns - perfect accompaniments to the previous seafood flavour sets.
Everything was perfectly cooked; the crab crisp and fresh, the fish steamed to the microsecond, the mushroom flavoured and braised tenderly, the bean curd an appropriately bland counterpoint but sweet with the scent of infused prawn.
Mum and friend were very impressed. My mum’s friend remarked that the lightning-fast but silent waiters looked like they were Hong Kong trained. I imagined that they had table setting practice and restaurant-given lectures on service.
Complimentary dessert arrived: small deep-fried sesame doughnut balls without filling and three slivers of banana-scented buttercake. Even these were pronounced by my mother to be perfect. This is a very high accolade indeed; for she is a tough food critic being both a superb cook, well-versed in the food/restaurant industry, an accomplished baker and raised in the gourmet traditions of a fussy Hainanese husband. 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.