Friday, 17 February 2012

A Golden Court Dinner

A dinner with the maternal grandparents was in order, especially since I for one had not seen them since my last Christmas break.  Though my family and I have noticed the existence of Golden Court Abalone Restaurant several times, only my parents and sister tried it last year due to a banquet event being held there.  Having enjoyed the cuisine there, they thought it was a good place to try for just a more casual dinner.  The Chinese cuisine offered at this restaurant, along with the price tag, was definitely on the higher end, with quite a few dishes on the menus offering various Chinese delicacies like shark's fin, conpoy and swallow's nest.  Even with some of the simpler dishes, greater attention was given to presentation compared to most other Chinese restaurants.
A personal serving of Snake Soup.

Our first course was a soup special of the day of which we were informed only by word of mouth, Snake Soup.  My first bowl of snake soup was at the Magic Wok Restaurant then in Scarborough when I was a little kid (though admittedly I started having it well before I fully grasped that there was snake meat in this soup), and ever since then I enjoyed it.  This version's broth was thick and full of various ingredients aside from slivers of snake meat, including ginger root, bamboo shoots and dried citrus peel (high-quality dried citrus peel can be a pricey delicacy).  Best eaten during the winter as it is quite a belly-warming dish, this soup was nicely made.
Fresh Tofu Bamboo with Baby Shanghai Bok Choy.
The next course to arrive was Fresh Tofu Bamboo with Baby Shanghai Bok Choy.  Though not usually a fan of tofu, I definitely enjoy tofu skin and tofu bamboo, essentially bunched tofu skin.  This simple and healthy dish also had some conpoy to bring the level of this dish up a notch and to provide flavour.
Fried Cod with Tofu and Shanghai Bok Choy
The third course to arrive was Fried Cod with Tofu and Shanghai Bok Choy, a dish we ordered as it was one of our grandparents' favourites.  The tofu pieces were fried, allowing for contrasting textures between the outer layer and the inside of each piece.
Salt-Baked Chicken, with shredded jellyfish on the side.
Another dish we ordered was, if memory serves me right, Salt-Baked Chicken.  One thing I'm still absolutely sure about this dish was the shredded jellyfish that accompanied the chicken.  The reconstituted bells of jellyfish was prepared to be lightly salty, and the elastic nature of the jellyfish strips was why my sister and I simply called them "elastic bands" when we were children.  Considering how long since I've had jellyfish, I couldn't get enough of that stuff that evening.
Imitation Crab with Broccoli.
The next course to arrive was a request of mine as it was one of my favourite Chinese dishes, Imitation Crab with Broccoli.  Chinese imitation crab by no means is even close to the Western and Japanese versions.  It is made by stir-frying egg whites until they are cooked, but not to the point where they would be too firm and have a dry texture, with pieces of whitefish tossed into the egg white mixture while being cooked. A raw egg yolk is mixed into the cooked egg white mixture upon serving to partly cook the egg yolk and partly enhance the texture of the dish.  In this particular case, shrimp as well as bits of real crab were added to the mix.  Sprinkling some red or black vinegar on your personal helping is an option to enhance the flavour.  I definitely enjoyed this dish; if I were to choose a favourite dish from this meal, it could have been a toss-up between this one and the tofu bamboo dish.
Sweet and Sour Beef.
The last course we ordered was Sweet and Sour Beef.  The slices of beef were well prepared and weren't too tough or chewy.  Unlike some other restaurants, the onions in this restaurant's dish were cooked enough to get rid of the raw zing, but it was cooked just enough to still retain a fair bit of the onion's crispiness.  Much to my relief, the sweetness wasn't too strong either.
After dinner, the restaurant provided us with complementary dessert, including bowls of red bean dessert soup as well as some bite-sized sweets.  These included peanut cookies and coconut pudding.  Being not a fan of red bean dessert soup I skipped that for the cookies and pudding.  Coconut pudding was another thing I couldn't get enough of at restaurants when I was a kid.  Firm and therefore easily handheld, this pudding is mildly sweet, and decent ones will have a strong coconut flavour to it (I've had weak ones elsewhere unfortunately).  The peanut cookies were fascinating.  Though harder than shortbread, they still broke into crumbs similar to how shortbread would when bitten.  Very little sugar, if any, was added to these cookies, making them comparatively more savoury than the coconut pudding.

Though Golden Court may not be the kind of Chinese restaurant one would enter for a more wallet-friendly dinner (there were definitely more affordable options nearby), the food still makes this place worth an occasional visit for more special moments.

Name: Golden Court Abalone Restaurant
Address: 270 West Beaver Creek Rd., Richmond Hill, ON
Cuisine: Chinese
Price Range: $15-$70/dish
Accessible: Yes

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