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Aug 23, 2010 10:56 AM

Yet Another Promising New Chinese Place - Golden Garden Belmont

Open in the location where there used to be a thoroughly mediocre Japanese place.

Golden Garden
63 Concord Ave
Belmont, MA

A colleague just got the pork with Spicy noodle soup and it was superb.

I got a bag of frozen pork and leek dumplings that were (big statement) as good as Wang's.

Things I need to try:
Cumin Lamb
Clams with Dry chili sauce
sauteed shredded potato with sour sauce
Sauteed snail with vegetable
Pan fried whole fish with spicy sauce
Dried chicken with chili sauce

Apps include: tendon, tripe, jellyfish, dan dan noodles, five flavored beef, steamed bacon with fresh garlic...

There is also a Szechuan portion of the menu that looks promising.

A few weeks ago I had the Bean Curd strips with Hot green pepper which was not that exciting on it's own, but would have made a great accompaniment to some of the other dishes.

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  1. Interesting to have something good there. I had written it off as a "cursed" spot. The Chinese place that was there before the Japanese place looked like a crack house... I'm sure that their business was 100% takeout.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tdaaa

      LMAO...100% takeout, is that a euphemism for money laundering? Because that is what DH and I always assumed those baaaaaad Chinese restaurants were for. I agree that spot seems pretty cursed, though I haven't been in the area as long.

      Anyway, the thought of awesome dumplings within reasonable walking distance might just make me haul 3 kids up there in the rain today!

    2. There is a LONG history of Chinese places on that corner, going back more than 20 years. (I used to work walking distance down Concord Ave. and can attest to this.) The Japanese place was an aberration. Unfortunately, like the Japanese incarnation, most of the other restaurants on that corner have been no better than mediocre. Maybe Golden Garden will break the curse!

      1. Wow! Dumplings as good as Wang's w/i 2 min. of my house . . . I might not sleep tonight. Thanks for tipping me off - I *never* check out that corner any more 'cause there's never been a reason, 'til now.


        1. I tried it, very promising. The owner is from Dongbei and the menu similarities to Unique Food in Cambridge (before they closed) are striking.

          32 Replies
          1. re: tatsu

            Thanks for the clarification. I was trying to figure out where they were from in China. Hmmm shades of lost Chinese restos of my youth in NYC, the Harbin Inn.

            On the dumpling front, I took them home and gave them a steam/fry my favorite prep. My SO said they were the best dumplings she ever ate, period.

            Heck, you got me thinking about them again, tempted to have them for breakfast ;-).

            Where/when was Unique food in existence? Must have totally missed that one.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Yes, Unique was unique for a brief time. I lived in and around NY also, so I am pretty familiar with Cantonese cuisine from Chinatown and Hunan & Sichuan cuisine in the suburbs. Dongbei food for me is new. They took over the Wisteria location in East Cambridge for a brief time. (I also miss Wisteria.) I only went 4 times before they closed. They had the best dumplings I had here, (except for White Bear's hot chili oil/pickle/scallion wonton skin masterpieces in Flushing) so I can't wait to try Golden Gardens.

              The cold app section very closely matches Unique's selection in particular. While I was reading it, I just sort of blurted out, "Are you guys from Dongbei?" and she said yes! At my first visit to Golden Garden I went for a Chive Pie instead of dumplings, and it was the best one ever. I also had MaPo tofu since it was a cold rainy day, and it was deeply satisfying.

              Unique does have another store in Allston that is still there. The owner told me it was too crazy opening both at the same time. However, the menu in Allston wasn't as extensive as the Cambridge locale. However, he promised me that once the Cambridge store closed in July, he'd start porting that menu over and then some, and also make improvements to the dining area. It looks like he is doing that, but I haven't stopped in just yet. The owner is an interesting guy and it was fun talking to him the few times I was there. I was very sad to see it go, as I miss both Unique and Wisteria. (It's going to be a Thai place now.) So I gotta get to Unique in Allston soon and see what's up! I'm gonna give him a hard time if I don't see a bigger menu!

              They are on Harvard street, pretty close to Blanchards and Garlic and Lemons. Very easy to miss, it looks like it's been there forever, (prolly was another Chinese take-out place before) and the sign looks strange until you realize it must be Dongbei inspired. (At first glace it looks sort of, umm, like a Brazilian-Chinese buffet!)

              Anyway I think both are pretty good. Unique is far less coy about their origins (at least in Cambridge) and doesn't have 4 pages of the funny stuff, but they both seem to cook very well. Some places dip in quality after opening, so I hope Golden stays the course. But definitely CH'ers should rush over now for some excellent NorthEast chinese food!

              1. re: tatsu

                Wow, Unique is great to know about! That was the Dragon Wok space for some time, just awful. It's between Brighton and Comm Aves, right across Harvard Ave from the Economy Hardware store.

                Looks like Unique opened around October 2009. I kept walking by that one and assuming it would be Dragon Wok-ish. Excellent tip!


                1. re: tatsu

                  I stopped into the Allston Unique right after they opened early in 2010 and asked for a takeout menu, but it was 100% franchise American Chinese so I figured there was nothing really going on there. But then they put up a second sign recently that just says "RAVIOLI" and I was thinking there's something to that place... I'm excited to hear they have some good food... gotta check it out soon.

                  1. re: Luther

                    i stopped in the Allston Unique a while back and asked for the dumpliings but they said they were sold out. Might not hurt to call ahead before making a special trip over there.

                  2. re: tatsu

                    I just wish unique would have bothered to put the good stuff on their foodler list. I'd have actually ordered from them regularly had they bothered to do that (I'll admit that I'm often too lazy to call for delivery when I can click some buttons on foodler). I did order from them a couple of times when I was craving delivery-style-americanized-chinese and found those offerings to be anything but unique.

                    Then I read that they had all of this good stuff and simply never had an opoprtunity to actually go there before it closed. Ah well.

                    1. re: tatsu

                      Ankling it around the nabe late last night after about 731 rounds of soju at Myung Dong 1st Ave, I happened upon Unique. Chef Liping was thrilled to hear about all the dongbei buzz about town. I basically tied him up in a chair with an overhanging light bulb and shook him down for all the info. He had the same crazed look in his eyes as I probably did when interrogating him on dala pi, xiangla xiaopai, and knifecut wheat noodles - he can't wait for us to bring a crew (with a day's notice). Having already a bellyfull of chicken gizzards and rice cakes, I could only pull off a sample of dumplings (pork & sour cabbage). But when they hit the table, I found myself plowing thru the bakers dozen in under a minute. Terrible cellphone pics below.

                      Right now, they have a dozen different dumplings and 8 cold apps, all seemingly Manchurian. Steamed eggplant with minced garlic, garlic flavoured seaweed, garlic flavoured cucumber, triple vegetable salad, shredded pig tripe in chili sauce, etc etc. Let's assemble an army and have a feast.

                      1. re: Nab

                        Does Unique make their own knifecut wheat noodles? I adore those...

                        1. re: nonaggie

                          They're not on the menu at the moment, but if we naggie them enough they will make them ....

                          1. re: Nab

                            The Unique in e. Cambridge had hand pulled noodles, but definitely no knife cut noodles.

                          2. re: nonaggie

                            Beijing Star in Waltham does a slightly clunky rendition that hits the spot for me. They call them Homemade Noodles or somesuch.

                            Beijing Star Restaurant
                            835 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              I'm pretty sure, unless they have changed the menu, that Beijing Star does Hand Pulled noodles (拉面, La-mian). These are not the same thing as Knife Cut/Knife Shaved noodles (刀削面, dao-xiao-mian).

                              There's a pretty good write up on the differences here:

                              Beijing Star Restaurant
                              835 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451

                              1. re: qianning

                                Nope, au contraire, Beijing Star does Knife cut noodles.

                                Cut off a block with a knife. A rather knowledgeable hound commented that Beijing Star's rendition was a bit on the clunky side, not the best he had had, but still serviceable...

                                This picture comes pretty close to what they look like:


                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  Yeah they are gooey rather than chewy. If you're into that sort of thing.

                                  1. re: Luther

                                    Hmmm, the couple of time's I've had them they were thick and chewy, but not gooey... go figure.

                                    From the ones I had I can see how if you sliced them thinner and used a more delicate dough they could reach marvelous heights.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      For Anglophones, the noodles in question at Beijing Star are offered as an option to specials menu, pink menu or foyer whiteboard menu dishes like soup noodles with shredded pork; you have the option to order "regular" or "home-style" noodles; the latter are knife-cut noodles. I'm no connoisseur of such, but that's one of my favorite hearty dishes there among many.


                                      Beijing Star Restaurant
                                      835 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451

                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                               mistake. thanks for the correction.

                                      2. re: StriperGuy

                                        I loathe those knife cut noodles at Beijing Star. No art or care at all. And, they only need a little care and love to make the noodle texture delicious.

                                        Beijing Star Restaurant
                                        835 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451

                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                          Any place in Boston that does a good job of knife-cut noodles, beetlebug?


                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                            Unfortunately, no. And, no place for hand pulled noodles either (well, not since noodle alcove closed).

                                            But, maybe I'm missing something?

                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              Well they weren't thin, but Unique did make noodles before they closed in Cambridge. They were good, and frankly much better than any Udon I've ever had in Boston or NYC. There would sometimes be Chinese expats slurping it up with me at Unique, some hours you'd think it was a noodle shop! It wasn't finely cut, very fat again, like udon, and fairly irregular, but it had body and a little stretch and cooked through perfectly. (90% of the udon here is way overcooked.)

                                              Anyway, maybe they have it now at the Allston store? Let us know if you make it there and if it's ramping up again.

                                        2. re: Luther

                                          We only tried them once at Beijing Star; they were definitely knife cut (刀削面), and although I wouldn't call them gooey, they were definitely soft and didn't have any of the chewy bite we were hoping for.

                                          Beijing Star Restaurant
                                          835 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451

                            2. re: StriperGuy

                              could you give me a time for steaming; not boil then steam? Perhaps you need to do a comparison but are they better than mulon's and wang's dumplings.

                              what about a new thread on chinese dumplings? this would be too good to keep to oneself.

                              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                A chinese dumpling thread would be fun. It would end up being around 10 or so places I bet.

                                Some dumplings are meant to be pan-fried, some steamed, etc. The thicker the skin, the more cooking it can take on.

                                The typical frozen dumpling approach is to put a few tablespoons of water to barely cover the bottom of a non-stick skillet, partially lid until the dumplings mostly cook, and then add oil to pan-fry when the water is gone. The amount of water and heat is kind of tricky but if you are careful you can add or dump water before it's too late. Use medium to medium high heat.

                                My own variation is to simply nuke the dumplings for 30 seconds, deplate them and let them sit on the cutting board until the skin is dry and they cool down, then rinse my hands in running water and then rub gently about in my hands/fingerpaint so some moisture gets back into the skin. Sometimes the edges get opaque, and you'll know it's dried out there, so paint those corners with water with your fingers. (I suppose you could spritz them but I think it might be too much water.) Then I fry them in a old iron cast skillet. It does make a lot less oil splatter since they are pretty much dry and the results are just as good or better. I think the drawback to steam and fry is that the insides may get too wet, but it's fine. If you know what you doing you won't overcook them. (That's when they fall apart and you get oil everywhere.) The drawback to my own method is that it's well, microwaved.

                                I don't like to use the microwave so sometimes I do it the tried and true way or simply steam them till done.

                                The other obvious choice is to let them simply defrost on the counter.

                                Oh, by the way, frozen buns can be done similarly, simply take them out of the fridge, pass them quickly through running water just to wet the surface and pop them in the microwave for 20-40 seconds. Steaming frozen buns would probably end up soggy.

                                Finally in the microwave process I'll sometimes divide the zapping times in half, letting the products dissipate moisture and microwave hots spots for a minute or two. I tend to use less zapping time than most ppl recommend, letting the latent energy spread, it's surprising how much there is in radiation.

                                I'm sure StriperGuy has his own honed steam 'n' fry technique down, with times. (I just sort of feel it, the steam/parboil/microwave process is basically defrosting, while the fry process is a finish.)

                                1. re: tatsu

                                  Wow, I think that was the comprehensive answer.

                                  I tend to just use cast iron and alternate steaming, and when the water dries out frying. It's always a little tricky to get the insides cooked and not over cook the wrapper.

                                  By the way (I am insanely suggestible) I could not resist eating lunch their today:

                                  Fried tofu with chinese cabbage and spicy chili sauce
                                  Lamb with dry chili sauce

                                  The tofu dish was totally amazing. Nice chew to the fried tofu. Not like your usual fried tofu which I find a bit boring. SWIMMING in rich chili sauce and topped with garlic and chili. The texture was more like what happens when they cook stinky tofu. 4 Stars ;-)

                                  The lamb was actually milder then I had thought it would be. With poblanos and dried red chili. Not the usual szechuan prep, but very soothing, rich, and perfect for a rainy day. The lamb was super tender. 4 Stars as well.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    are these all on the normal menu, or do you have to nod-nod-wink-wink-convince-them to get the real menu?

                                    1. re: jgg13

                                      They only have one menu (not always the case) and everything that I know of is on it.

                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                      Just for the record I got 4 lunches out of this order...

                              2. re: tatsu

                                Is there much northeast-style Chinese food on the menu? I'd love to have that in Boston, after the explosion of such restaurants in Flushing Queens.

                                1. re: Luther

                                  To add to Luther's questions, any "dun cai", i.e. stewed/braised dishes, on the menu?

                                  1. re: qianning

                                    Not a ton that looks stewed/braised...

                              3. Thanks for the tip, StriperGuy! I was just wondering what to do for dinner last night when I saw this. We got a bag of the pork and leek dumplings as well as a bag of the Chinese vegetable dumplings, and that was most of dinner.

                                The Chinese veg dumplings was filled predominantly with carrot, bean curd, rice vermicelli, and I think minced cabbage.

                                We boiled them, and both types were quite good, although I think I still slightly prefer Wang's dumplings, which have a slightly chewier skin. (Granted, it's been several months since we've had dumplings from Wang's, so this may be an out of date comparison. And perhaps these are better steamed.) At any rate, Golden Garden is so much more convenient for us to get to that I'm sure we'll end up getting their dumplings quite frequently.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: nonaggie

                                  Excellent. I tried them steamed first and they were good. The second time I did my fav prep, alternating steaming and frying in cast iron (fry til water is gone, brown a bit, add a bit more water steam a bit more til done) and they truly shined. Honestly superb.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    you must cover when steaming, correct. are they thawed out first; how do you know when they are done?

                                    1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                      I just throw them in the pan frozen with a little oil and brown lightly on all sides. Then get the pan a little hotter, throw in a 1/4 cup of water and cover till water is gone. It's a fiddly method but it workd.

                                      Covered when steaming, then uncovered when frying.

                                      Done is tricky, sometimes I just cut one in half. Key is, too soon it is raw, too long it is over cooked. I wish I had some magic solution...

                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                        thanks for the tutorial. i will try it though i wonder if it would not be better to that them first?

                                        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                          If you have time to thaw them first, it's better. If not, use a little more than a 1/4 cup of water, so they steam a little more. Also, if you prefer the dumplings crispy on only one side, you can brown just one side in the initial oil browning.