There is only one rule to remember when visiting Golden Century or GCs as it is affectionately known: don’t visit before midnight. This rule can only be broken if at least 50% of your party is already inebriated. And this, friends, is why I don’t show food porn photos of live lobster sashimi or the famous pipis with XO sauce. Rather, what you see is the aftermath: the smashed crab claws, half-empty beer bottles, discarded pipi shells, bottomless tea pots and splashes of MSG-laden sauce over the Lazy Susan. This is what GCs is all about and detractors should take note.
I can see why some diners may be upset with their GCs experience if they don’t follow the rule. The service is average, the atmosphere is stuck in the eighties and it is far from a bargain. What they are forgetting though is the tradition, the reason for the rule itself. Eating at GCs is akin to stepping back in time, to an era where restaurants were judged on the amount of sea creatures kept in tanks at front of shop, on the white starchiness of their bright table cloths and on the abundance of options available in their bible-like menus. Things have changed but GCs refuses to recognise it. This is not, however, to its detriment.
First things first: beers for the lads and white wine for the girls. The pipis with XO sauce is a must-have - the sauce is rich, thick and more addictive than crack. A seafood congee with youtiao to dip is the Chinese equivalent of dipping biscuits into coffee. Okay, not quite but you get the idea. Completing the trilogy is the salt and pepper squid which does exactly what it says on the packet, maybe a little more so, with that salty tang requiring at least another beer to quench your thirst.
Old favourites like lemon chicken, mongolian lamb, roasted duck and BBQ pork are all available and you’d be worried if they weren’t. We always try and splash out on something new. This time it was crab: deep fried with salt and pepper and steamed with ginger and shallot. It’s as fiddly and messy as you imagine and you even get a little receipt saying when it was caught or when it was received or something. It seemed very important at the time.
Before you know it, your bellies are full, your pockets empty and it’s just another night at GCs. A place where everyone is welcome, from top chefs to try hard food bloggers, present company included. It’s all about the experience here so leave expectations at the door and relish the fact that you are eating in a Sydney institution.
Golden Century, Seafood Restaurant
393-399 Sussex Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9212 3901