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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Golden Century Seafood Restaurant, Haymarket Chinatown


If there's one dish that I've ever coveted, it would be the lobster sashimi at Golden Century.

Yep, you guessed it. My dreams came true.

welcome to golden century

Eight o'clock on a Friday night, and the reception area at Golden Century is more like the moshpit at yumcha. The lady with the walkie talkier is looking meek and harangued, the faces of the hungry and waiting are looking more and more stormy every minute.

After a twenty minute wait, we are finally given the authoritative nod to proceed upstairs.


We all receive menus but Veruca Salt has already done the legwork. She's been deliberating over our menu choices for weeks now, and despite tweaking via email in the preceding weeks, we still have the painful task of eliminating further dishes. We are a table of ten-- down from twelve--and no, we cannot possibly consume 14 dishes, I argue.

We have to call the attention of a waiter to take our order and within minutes he returns with two plastic bags containing our live pippies and one live lobster.

live lobster
Our live lobster 1.8kg

There are stickers on the waiter's shirtsleeve confirming the correct weight and once we nod, he rushes off into the kitchen. Meanwhile we wander downstairs for a look at the amazing fishtanks.


There's a bountiful array of live seafood, and every few minutes a waiter comes hurrying up to a tank, scooping out the next victim with the pole of his net.

mud crab
Live mud crabs

Live abalone

We return to our table and wait another five minutes before our first dish arrives: pippies in XO sauce are sweet and spicy, the fried bread sticks a perfect vehicle for mopping up the thick, slightly gelatinous seafood-infused sauce.

pippies in xo sauce
Pippies in XO sauces $62.20 ($40/kg)
with fried bread sticks ($3.00 per serve)

Our lobster arrives on a huge plate which is clouded in a dramatic white haze of dry ice. There's a collective ooooooooooohhhhhhhh around the table, and then of course everyone has to wait whilst I take endless photos.

lobster sashimi platter
Lobster sashimi $250.90 ($140/kg market price)
(includes second cooked lobster dish)

On one side of the lobster are slices of salmon sashimi; on the other side are a handful of Sydney Rock oysters. But it's the lobster sashimi that my eager chopsticks are seeking.

lobster sashimi
Lobster sashimi

The lobster sashimi is nothing like I expected. The flesh has been lightly scored and tenderised, the mass of white flesh sits in ribbons on a pile of ice cubes. The taste itself is quite mild, it has the subtle flavour of lobster with only a hint of sweetness. I'm more enamoured with the texture though, which is slippery and shiny on the tongue, and a little like jellyfish to the teeth (and I love jellyfish). It's not rubbery, but there's a definite chewy firmness to the flesh which I find very addictive.

lobster mustard
Lobster mustard

Then we notice the little dish of lobster guts, more euphemistically known as lobster mustard. There is general trepidation around the table but I'm game and dip my chopsticks in.

lobster mustard close-up

It's quite a confronting tidal wave of flavour. It tastes of guts, but sweetly so, with a vague bitter aftertaste that lingers. On my second and third tastings (yes, the takers were few), I start to enjoy it, and I figure that just as oysters usually taste pretty nasty the first time, so too will lobster mustard. I say that it reminds me a little of raw sea urchin roe (which I adore) but Veruca Salt just thinks I'm mad.

house soup
Complimentary house soup

It hasn't escaped my attention that we haven't received the complimentary house soup, and given the amount of money we are spending tonight, I feel we are perfectly entitled to request its dispensation. A charming smile and a polite request, and it arrives on our table within minutes.

fried rice
Fried rice $12.00

An onslaught of dishes has me snapping like crazy whilst Veruca does the official "photography clearance" signal as I complete each one. Never dine with a foodblogger on an empty stomach, is the suggestion I give :)

crisp skin chicken
Crisp skin chicken (whole) $32.00

The crisp skin chicken is exactly how it should be: glossy thin skin fried to a crisp, with juicy sweet flesh within. The accompanying prawn crackers are also fresh, and stay crisp for quite some time.

crisp skin chicken pieces

I'm a little disappointed with the salt and pepper squid and salt and pepper tofu, both of which are distinctly lacking in both salt and pepper. I enjoy the Peking style pork ribs which are predictably sweet but rather meaty.

salt and pepper squid
Salt and pepper squid $18.00

pork ribs peking-style
Pork ribs Peking-style $18.80

salt and pepper tofu
Salt and pepper fried bean curd $14.80

The second half of our lobster arrives, the shell and claws having been cooked in a ginger and shallot sauce and served with noodles (or you can elect to have the lobster deep-fried with chilli).

lobster with ginger and shallot in noodles
Lobster in ginger and shallots with e-fu noodles
(noodles $8.00)

There's a fair bit of lobster meat from the claws, although I can't help hankering for the sweetness of mud crab, which imparts a more intense flavour when cooked with e-fu noodles.

cod fillet
Cod fillet sauteed with vegetables $22.00

Cod fillet is a plain and unassuming dish, thick fillets of fish that have been sauteed with Chinese vegetables. Mongolian hotpot is a little sweet but then it isnn't usually one of my favourites, and as Veruca notes, at least it doesn't arrive smothered in onion.

mongolian lamb
Mongolian lamb hotpot $17.80

We're impressed with the complimentary house desserts: sheets of wonton that have been twisted and deep-fried and dusted with icing sugar in a Chinese version of crostoli. The cookies are also very tasty, crisp and crunchy with a caramelly glazed top and a taste of honey or golden syrup.

Complimentary house desserts

By the time we reach the watermelon, we are well and truly spent.

Complimentary fruit platter

A banquet for all the senses, and another gastronomic goal I can cross off the list.

Thanks Veruca for the fantastic birthday dinner (amongst other celebrations).

Apparently our next goal is the King Crab at $140/kg (bearing in mind that most weight at least four kilos). We might have to save up a little while longer for that one.

lobster with noodles

View Larger Map

Golden Century Seafood Restaurant
393-399 Sussex Street, Haymarket, Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9212 3901

Opening hours:
Open 7 days, 12pm-4am

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Golden Century (Jan 10), (Oct 07), (Nov 06), (Oct 05) and (Jul 04)
10 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 11/21/2006 11:58:00 pm


  • At 11/22/2006 6:34 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen, OMG! I was there on Friday night too! We also ordered a lobster, although not sashimi. Snap too re the s&p tofu and ribs. Weren't you given the peanut 'soup' dessert? Although sweet and unctuous, I actually prefer the adzuki bean version. But, free is free ... Next time you should also try the abalone mushroom (known in Cantonese as ling-tze mushroom) and the barramunindi steamed with ginger and shallots. Gorgeousness. Despite the madhouse atmosphere it is still my fave Canto joint in town. Just can't be bothered trekking across the bridge to Ying's, my other fave.

  • At 11/22/2006 6:50 am, Blogger Yvo Sin said…

    Looks fantastic! I've only had one type of shellfish sashimi, Japanese... rock crab? It looked like Alaskan king crab. It was also sliced but at the time, having never seen raw lobster/crab type shellfish, I thought that's how it looked, haha. That sounds like a very sumptuous meal.

    PS Question, do you personally normally eat the guts of lobster/crab when you eat them whole? Because I love the stuff. It gives it such a nice flavor I don't use butter or anything on my crabs. Mm. I've never seen live abalone either... that's so cool. It's disappointing that the salt/pepper dishes look so bland, because that's usually a fairly tasty dish (I've only had the squid). Mm... this makes me miss wedding banquets/lush, lavish Chinese dinners that we used to have frequently as a kid.

  • At 11/22/2006 9:05 am, Blogger PiCkLeS said…

    very very nice...though i was very shocked when i saw the 'lobster mustard' i can't say that i've ever seen that!

  • At 11/22/2006 9:44 am, Blogger Reb said…

    Yum-o! I love the lobster done salt and pepper style, and last time I was there it was nicely salty and spicy. Bad luck on the squid and tofu being off its game in that area. And happy birthday for last week too! I hope this outing was an example of your birthday celebrations going on at least a week!

  • At 11/22/2006 7:24 pm, Blogger thanh7580 said…

    Firstly, happy birthday since I haven't said it yet. :-)

    It looked like a very extravagant meal. I love eating the guts of lobsters and crab. I haven't tried the guts raw but when its cooked, its the best part. I also love abalone and eat it as much as possible. I haven't tried the green lip ones in your photos yet because they are so expensive, even more expensive than the lobster.

    I'm like you when I go out to eat. I always tell my friends "Wait wait wait, I haven't taken a photo yet" to which they all groan and say "Not again" hahaha. The life of a food blogger eh.

  • At 11/22/2006 11:09 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    wow, the lobster sashimi looks great... some day, my wallet may let me try it... a happy belated b'day to you AG... looks like you've had plenty of celebration, hope there is more to come.. (thought i sent my regards in another post, but it didnt show up)...

    not really keen on king crab... looks stunning on the plate, but havent had a good one in sydney.. maybe the shell is too thick... at golden century, another nice one is the snow crab.. salt and pepper style... the crab shell is paper thin...

    yep, golden century is my fave cantonese place... though, 'yummy' chinese seafood restaurant in beverly hills, (yes, crap name, far away) would be my other fave...

  • At 11/23/2006 6:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Helen, We were upstairs too, and were laughing at the Happy Birthdays being blasted over and over! And watch whom you're calling old! Ha ha.

  • At 11/23/2006 11:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen,Happy belated Birthday.I'm a fan of your blog.I like all your reviews,always made me hungry :)
    Those seafood dishes are absolutely stunning and looks delicious.I heard that most of chinese restaurant using pork fat for cooking especially deep fried,Is that true?

  • At 11/25/2006 7:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen,
    Looks like a sumptuous meal. I remember last time we ordered lobster sashimi at a Chatswood Chinese restuarant 10 years ago, the lobster was still moving its tentacles when it arrive on the table!
    Since then we've never ordered it again...

  • At 4/01/2007 5:17 pm, Blogger Thien Lan said…

    Hi Helen

    I went there yesterday night after clubbing at around 2am, this place is just fantastic and just knowing that after partying we'll end up there with a full table for 11 got me really excited.

    Try it and in particular their seafood or crab congee. I know congee sounds like "it's the food for when you are sick", but theirs is so creamy and tasty, and their doughnut sticks are bigger but still crunchy on the outside and so soft ans moist on the inside! It was an amazing experience!


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