If you're a good, decent, honest person then stop reading now. Honestly, just stop. If you practice law, sell real estate, second hand cars or practice politics in NSW, keep on going - you've nothing to lose. But if not, please don't continue. Turn your computer off, get up and walk away. Don't think i'm exaggerating, this isn't funny, your very soul could be at stake. If you have any notion of fairness or respect for your fellow man you wont read on. It just wouldn't be fair to them if you read on. In any case, you'd hurt yourself more than you'd hurt anyone else. Heed my advice. Trust me, I wouldn't lie to you...Or would I?
You probably can't trust me any more, my CakeKnifeJury. I've fallen from grace (if ever I held her). I've done a very bad thing and I can no longer claim membership in the ranks of the morally noble. I've been a bad, bad girl. I haven't been caught yet but it doesn't matter, my conscience hasn't shut up since it happened. How do I even begin to confess? Do you promise this'll just be between us? Well. Okay. I committed a...crime. I committed the perfect crime, actually. I, AB, am a...thief. Sure there are better words for it. I could call myself an embezzler, a swindler, a plunderer, a crazy little klepto, a bandit, a pirate, a highwayman (if you asked Johnny Cash). Been a crook. Been a Brigandly Bad Bechara, I have.
Alas, a crook by any other name would still be as shifty. The word won't undo the act. I am still what I am: a thief. And you're about to become my accessories! I am going to give you the treasure map, after all. I'm going to give you The Inside Word. The way in. The secret door, the password and the guarantee you'll be able to pull it off. What more could you want? Come closer now, listen up. I'm going to have to...whisper. Shhh. We don't word getting out now, do we? So, it goes like this...Either at 12noon, or at 6pm during The Sydney Festival, if you break and enter into this little China town eatery called Golden Century and you bring 30 bucks, you can totally score. It's part heist/part bank robbery. Don't be Suss about it. 30 bucks is all you need to pull it off. For AUD 30 you can (and will) totally and utterly rip the wonderful people at Golden Century completely off. Just 30 bucks'll do it, you won't even have to hold them at gunpoint or wear a mask. 30 bucks and you can walk out with the haul of the (golden) century. Don't believe me?
Just ChineseWhisper four magic, little words: Fast Food Feast, Now! Then they'll open the vault and before you know it you're walking away with the following all cosy-ed up in your anatomical sack:
Soup of The Day
Steamed Coral Trout Fillet w Chinese Mushrooms + Ham
Fried Rice w Prawn
Deep Fried Cakey/Biscuity stuff
All the Green tea you could possibly consume +
Stoneleigh Wine or a Kronenbourg or Tasmanian Rain Water
Sweet!! Highway robbery, for those of you who are unaccustomed with its getaway-car-thrill joys, is surprisingly delectable. I hope these pictures don't end up in court...
Golden Century. Ahh. It brings a tear to the eye. I have had more great meals here than I probably ever did on my mothers teat (no offence, Mum). This place is more historic for me than Parliament house. So many loud/noisy/celebratory inappropriately timed meals (think 2am on a Sunday, or midnight on a Wednesday) have happened within these hallowed walls. Salt-and-pepper-squid-steamed-ginger-shallotted-fish-sang-choi-bao-squirt-lick-soy-oyster-curried-garlic-king-prawns-oh-god. SweetSaltySourSharp. Old School Chinese service is one of my favourite things about eating here. There's probably 3.7 waiters to each person, all hovering around and ready to take your order. But not an ounce of obsequiousness to be found. Prompt and attentive, but genially indifferent/occasionally derisive. I don't know how they manage to be so polite while also seeming to not care in the least. Nothing gets to your typical Chinese waiter. Not impatience, not pushiness, not hard pain-in-the-ass requests. It's all water off a peking duck's back. Chinese waiters of the world: I Love You and you will always claim my best tips and my heartfelt respect. You are Gods among men.
After promptly being sat down, offered drinks and a pot of steaming jasmine tea and some bright-bright-red and brown-black soysauce and chili, in slightly less than a 1/4 of the time it takes for the human eye to blink, our first dish is swooped down in front of us. Bruce Lee wasn't even that quick.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I give you: Exhibit A. A beguiling-barely-there delicious pork broth. I sipped the soup without trying the pork, it was beautiful, salty and light and like a big morning stretch for a palate that was salivating at the thought of what was to come. Danny (non-pescetarian) loved this. Danny is never easily impressed so when he likes something it's usually a happy moment. He adores light soups and said this was gentle and flavoursome and lovely. Okay, he didn't put it quite like that, he's a bloke after all, but you know what I mean. It's an easy, warm and inviting opening to a gorgeous meal. But not shy at all, the flavour is deep, salty-meaty-herbed. The stock isn't too thin. It has levels, as all good stock and people should. The warmth and lightness of the soup is a measured counterbalance to the fullness of the dishes that follow.
Fried Rice. Is this even Chinese food any more? I think it might actually be the regional dish of Far Nothern QLD and Bankstown. Fried Rice is a culinary white-flag. It's one food that culinary-bogans and culinary-bluebloods can all bloody well agree on. No one's too good for fried rice. No one ever has been. It's almost everything that's good about food in one, perfect dish. When we go out with healthy intentions it's always one of us who sheepishly asks for the fried rice, every one else goes with the steamed/boiled rice. But truth be told, I take more than my fair share whenever it turns up. Everyone else does too. Asia's answer to the hot chip, it is.
This rice was more enjoyable than finding a 20 in jacket pocket you forgot about. But I can't stop there, can I? Life doesn't get much more wanky than poetic attempts (or attempts at being poetic) while describing fried rice, but such is the slogging of a-blogging. Here goes: soft grains of stodgy, translucent rice are exactly as they should be, partly mooshy and partly oiled-crispy. Silken shards of fried egg and crisp pork are lost in the bright tangle, they give a beautiful richness to the taste and the prawn mixes deftly with the pork. It's salty - in different ways, warm and spiked with little lively slivers of refreshing shallot that add a green-onionlyness that livens the flavour up. Confusing and messy, in a good way. Like someone in a position of authority finding you sexually attractive.
The serve is amazing. It's a whole dish that you could easily share with another, but it comes as a side in what is already an unbelievably bountiful offering. GC's fried rice isn't too heavy or sickly, if it's been a while since you veered from boiled, here's a great place to do it.
Steamed Coral Trout w Chinese Mushrooms + Ham. I found the thought of this dish pretty funny before I tried it. It's like Diamonds with Sapphires with Bubblegum, but never doubt the Chinese, they know how to make everything taste good. This is a gorgeously slippery main.
Plump slices of soft fillet are ensconed under little slices of shimmering shiitake with a wafer-thin wisp of ham wedged in between for good measure. The fish is lovely, it has a gentle ginger echo, and the mushroom (ham removed, for me) was agonizing. It was saltly, deep-mushroomly. Mushrooms are just something else, aren't they. The lightness of the fish and the depth of the mushroom was edible emperor. The fish had a braisedness to it that was almost soupy, it was a beautiful medium for the gingered-saltiness to run away with the mushroom in.
An elegant circle of steamed greens like a crown around the fish gives the necessary colour and freshness and texture. So bright and alive. The fish and the greens. Again, the amount was more than I could eat. That doesn't mean that I didn't it, I am just pointing out that it was a very ample serve.
Sluice the fish with a fire-engine-red smearing of chili paste or some fresh chili and soy. I love to watch the pale coral trout flesh become stained with the black and the red, it picks the flavour up like a conductor to electricity. I left some of the fish gentle and subtle as it came, but took the rest of it in a blazing-salt-fire of soychili. The burn from the fire contorts with the burn from the salty soy and it just burns inside of your mouth beautifully. It's almost numbing in how sharp it is.
Look At That. Little beads of flamboyant chili, strands of green against shards of red and the perfect, pale, soft flesh of the steamed trout. Maybe this is the reason China is a communist country. Could you ever bare living in a place where everyone couldn't get a piece of this?
We think it's all over. We're sitting there. Full of rice and fish and greens and soup and wine and tea. We are happy. This is life. Eating at Golden Century is just so satisfying. You always feel well fed. I hate the use of this word, but it really does seem like the food here is better described as a 'feed' than a meal. It's so pleasant, so bloody comprehensive to the palate. Every single texture and flavour need feels like it's been masterfully stroked with its required culinary feather. Salty. Meaty. Fresh. Chewy. Sweet. Refreshing. Rich. Soft. Light. Heavy. Soupy. Solid. Steamed. Fried. Gingered. I curse the Gods that I don't have a Chinese Grandmother. If any Old Chinese woman have given the mahjong the heave ho to read this and you're willing to adopt me, i'll repay you tenfold in affection and grand-daughterly adoration.
It's never over at Golden Century. They believe in good break ups here, they never send you away without a little perfunctory well-wishing from the kitchen. I have no idea what these crispy-crunchy-nutty-biscuity-pastried somethings are, but I gobble them gleefully every time they appear. I wasn't sure they'd be included in the FFF, I mean, we'd already ripped them off enough and here they were, giving us more! It's like the bank manager running after you before you reach the van and telling you you forgot a bundle of 100's in the back. So lovely!
Flaky, oiled, buttery, nutted-crunch.
Like a deep fried plait in icing sugar.
And then the watermelon...Sobering and cool and sweet and wet. And so perfectly scarletted. It's like a gentle caress on a forlorn cheek before walking away.
Golden Century. How are you making any money on this deal? It's highway robbery. Get in for this one, go on, do it. Grab your ten closest friends and make a big, round messy table of it. The mechanics of this institution are amazing. Watch the sections and the staff and the coming and going and to-ing and fro-ing. It's more nuanced than a stock-market floor. Delicious chaos.
Golden Century happens at 393 Sussex Road, Sydney. ph 9212 3901. Book in at 12 or 6 for this meal.
Make sure you have a damn good alibi. And if anyone ever asks you why you robbed Golden Century, you just tell them (a la Willie Sutton): That's where the yummy is.