Ye-Gon struggles to write something interesting about the Golden Dragon

Ye-Gon: They’re on the cheap side, and especially on busy nights, the food is hot and fresh. I’ve never gotten sick after eating there. Close your eyes, imagine lots of typical Chinese food, then open your eyes. Congratulations, you’ve just accurately simulated the experience at the Golden Dragon. The end.

Okay, that’s not really fair. There’s a few things to say about the place, which has been there for at least a decade – I forget the exact details, and it probably doesn’t matter. This isn’t the sort of place where history and tradition are of particular concern for its core audience. The dining hall is vast and sterile, clean but at the same time reminiscent of a hospital waiting room that hasn’t had a furniture refresh for a few years. This probably doesn’t matter either. What matters is that for around $20 a head, you can help yourself to as much Chinese food as you’d like. It’s a solid deal.

The fried chicken is a surprise hit, with a crispy, craggy coating that I’d take over Original Recipe any day. The sweet and sour pork, in the signature radioactive orange tint, taste exactly as you’d expect, except this is a smorgasbord and a busy one at that; it gets constantly replenished, so the meat is far more succulent than most takeaways while retaining the glassy crunch of the batter. Excessive grease and fat is an easy way for a lousy eatery to mask crappy cooking, but the stir fried dishes here are all nicely balanced and doesn’t leave you feeling like you need a bottle of detergent to wash down your dinner. The unlimited cha siu and crispy pork belly is a pretty big deal too, albeit a dinner service- and dine in-only exclusive; neither are cooked perfectly, but it’s good enough to have secured real estate on my second plate. It’s not all on the mark, however; you can skip the soup, for a start. It’s more of a warmed canned corn kernels in its can juice. And not that there’s a huge selection, but probably best to keep the distance on the fish and seafood as well.

It’s not a date-night sort of place. But it is most certainly a great feed-the-hungry-crowd-and-have-some-good-time sort of place. And hey, the game’s on the telly at the sports bar next door, so that’s a good excuse for a beer to wash it all down afterwards. But here’s my tip: I normally buy a takeaway container and bring it home. It’s even cheaper than eating in, and it’s quicker than waiting 10-15 minutes for your food to cook at a regular Chinese takeaway. All the aforementioned food, while chilling out on your couch.

Golden Dragon is located at 234B Peachgrove Road, Claudelands. They’re open every day for lunch from 11:30am to 2:30pm, and for dinner from 5pm to 9:30pm.

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