I have lived in this city for close to 8 years now. Many of my opinions about this place have changed over the years, but one in particular has stayed constant: generally the Chinese food at restaurants in this city, for lack of a better word, sucks. Of course, there are a few exceptions and over the years I have learnt to lower my standards in order to satiate my cravings for Chinese food, but overall, the prospect of Chinese food here can be downright depressing.
I am happy to report that the food at Golden Harvest does not suck. In fact, over the years, it is the only Chinese restaurant that I have kept going back to, even though there have been a few short-lived affairs with other Chinese restaurants. I couldn't fly home for Chinese New Year (the equivalent of Christmas in NZ) this year, so D and I went to Golden Harvest on CNY's eve to have our own version of the 'reunion dinner'. There were a lot of students there, celebrating CNY's eve with friends in Dunedin, in lieu of family back home. It sure made me miss home.
Anyway, we ordered four dishes even though it was just the two of us. I didn't care - it was CNY eve after all. We ordered the Sweet & Sour Fish, the Mongolian Lamb, the Garlic Prawns & the Stir Fried Gai Lan. My favourite dish was the Garlic Prawns (ask anyone who knows me, I am a prawn fiend - not in the District 9 sense of course). Overall, the prawns, the lamb and the vegetables were a tad too salty.
Garlic Prawns: Garlic + Prawns = A win, win combination for me! There was a copious amount of minced garlic in the sauce. Luckily, the succulent prawns, each encased in tasty, light, crunchy batter, were not drenched in the rather strong sauce, but simply placed upon it so that people may coat the prawns in the sauce to their preference. Delicious and perfect with rice, which mellows the intensity of the sauce.
Sweet & Sour Fish: To me this was a bit disappointing - not because it was bad, but more because I am used to the more complex flavours of the sweet & sour sauces served back home. This sauce tasted like plum sauce (only) and was a little one dimensional for me. Also, because the fish was skinned, filleted, battered and fried, the flesh of the fish was bland. For this dish, I am used to the fish being served whole and with only an extremely thin batter. But I suppose they have to cater to the local clientele. Having said all that, the fish was perfectly cooked - the batter was light and crispy and the fish was tender. If it had a different name and I wasn't comparing it what I am used to, I would have probably been quite happy with it.
Stir Fried Gai Lan: For the uninitiated, Gai Lan is a type of Chinese leafy vegetable. It grows well in Asia but the good stuff is a little harder to come by in Dunedin. I find that when I buy Gai Lan at the farmer's market or supermarket, the stems and leaves are often thick and tough, indicative of an older plant. In Asia, they are almost always sweet, young and tender. That night, the Gai Lan was alright overall, albeit a little salty and the odd stem was a tough. The Choy Sum that we ordered during our previous visit was good, but since vegetables are seasonal, it wasn't available that night.
There are numerous other dishes at Golden Harvest that I know are good and would like to photograph and others that I would like to try but I will need to revisit it with S, who is a little more gastronomically adventurous than D. D did, however, pay for the meal, from which we walked away waddling with very full bellies. Yum.
Golden Harvest Restaurant
218 George Street