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Cumin Lamb at Golden Garden, Belmont

I know that this dish has gotten some ample love here, but as I pick through the last little morsels of a take-out order, I just gotta say YUM. Spicy enough to be spicy, such a homey and satisfying flavor. Admittedly, 5:30 is early on a Saturday night, but the place was empty and I must say they seem a little worried. "Sometimes crowded, sometimes empty" is what the woman at the front said, a slightly sad look on her face.

Golden Garden
63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

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  1. i have been back; it was not busy. As i may have said before; this is the kind of place the chowhounds should support and attempt to popularize. Hello, Slim!

    1 Reply
    1. re: cambridgedoctpr

      I agree...and may just head there tonight, if only for take-out!

    2. I was there at about 7 last Saturday picking up my cumin lamb! Again, empty. Such an awful location in terms of proximity to anything else interesting, but plenty of parking! I think this place is getting PLENTY of chowhound love, but I guess that can only go so far. FWIW, my parents are unadventurous eaters, and I had to order a pu pu platter. Aside from the pork spareribs (awful!), it was fantastic. Or, as fantastic as pu pu platters can be.

      1. Additionally, while I liked this dish, I didn't find it to have a real distinct lamb flavor, which was a bit disappointing.

        1. I have been there for lunch a couple of Saturdays in the past month and always only one or two other parties, it's worrying. The dumplings are unfailingly fantastic, they seem to have worked out the earlier quality assurance kinks.

          13 Replies
          1. re: GretchenS

            Really? I am having these for lunch today with my DD and many fell apart. She was not happy about it (she's 2), and neither am I. Bummer all around.

            We had takeout from there on Saturday night with some friends over, and everyone liked it. We didn't get the cumin lamb, they chose another lamb dish which they seemed to enjoy (I'm not crazy about lamb so didn't make it a point of trying it) and which my DS1 eagerly ate the leftovers from.

            1. re: little.tiger

              Maybe the difference is that I am eating them there? (Mental image of them cooking twice as many as they need and only plating the good-looking ones.) It's a mystery, I have only eaten in but in my small sample size it seemed to be better than last fall. Guess I was just lucky....

              1. re: GretchenS

                I've eaten in and been plated messy ones. It's just inconsistent.

                1. re: beetlebug

                  They are boiled and the way they are sealed, a few are bound to burst. Just about all Chinese boiled dumplings in all restaurants are done this way, sans folds.

                  It really doesn't bother me, certainly reminds you they are homemade. I don't take dumplings all that seriously.

                  1. re: tatsu

                    It just isn't the over boiling but it's also sloppy wrapping. I make tons of dumplings and overboiling and sloppy wrapping is easily fixable. They also use wrappers that should be dumped or re folded into new dough (too small, dried out, etc). When the dumplings burst then I'm losing the precious juices within.

                    I do take my dumplings seriously and the erratic dumping preparation isn't found at Wang's, Mulan or Qing Dao. Only GG.

                    1. re: beetlebug

                      The precious juices are most important.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        P R E C I O U S M Y P R E C I O U S

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            one of the greatest scenes of all times!

                            1. re: Northender

                              When it comes to precious fluids, it is hard whether to chose that scene, or this one:


                              I almost like the second one better; the nervous look on Peter Sellers face alone is worth it all by itself.

                      2. re: beetlebug

                        +1 for perfect Pork, Leek and Shrimp dumplings. Not a split or defect in the bunch.

                        1. re: okra

                          i think that if you make sure that the water is boiling and stir frequently until the dumplings float; you will not have any problems with defects.

                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                            As pointed out in another thread, the way they do in Northern China is bring to boil, put dumplings in, come to boil again, add a cup of water and then let come to boil again. It reduces the action going on in the pot. In a way it's similar to Kenji Alt-Lopez's pasta boiling test on Serious Eats.

            2. I had the cumin lamb last night, and it was definitely kicked up a notch on the spice scale. It was fantastic, as usual, but man - it was a bit of a workout. That and the shredded beef with hot green peppers are our standbys there.

              1. Went again this week and still think it's awesome - perfect takeout SLP dumplings, delicious beef with hot green peppers (flavorful and spicy but not that hot, which was just fine), and tried the lamb teriyaki, which was AMAZING - the dry rubbed, bite-sized morsels were so full of lamb and spice flavor - and it was a generous serving of 8 skewers - will be back soon and really hope this place stays around and stays great for a long time!

                18 Replies
                1. re: rlh

                  I went last night with two vegetarion DCs and agree that it was awesome. We got the Chinese vegetable dumplings which I had not had before and loved, the always-delicious leek pie, the bamboo shoots with sesame oil, the stir-fried Chinese spinach with garlic and the fried tofu with Chinese cabbage in spicy sauce (which is a gigantic serving). Everything was great but that tofu was INCREDIBLE -- we are all full by the time it came but could not stop eating it even though we should have. And there was enough tofu and Chinese spinach left over for lunch for two. As usual, only 3 tables were populated although the phone rang pretty constantly for takeout orders. I love this place!

                  1. re: GretchenS

                    The fried tofu with Chinese cabbage was my favorite dish as well among many great dishes.

                    1. re: GretchenS

                      Does the tofu come in a big bowl of spicy brothy sauce (analogous to the chicken in spicy sauce)?

                      The spicy noodles with pork on the soup menu was actually a bowl of lightly sauced noodles with roasted & stir-fried pork, tiny shrimp, baby bok choi, and onion IIRC, variably spicy with deseeded toasted dried chili chunks that you could eat or not. Excellent, just not quite what I was expecting. A giant portion also.

                      1. re: Aromatherapy

                        Though I have not had the chicken in spicy sauce, the tofu does come in a big bowl of spicy (though not very spice) brothy sauce. The portion size is quite large.

                    2. re: rlh

                      I think that many of their dishes would go wonderfully with a cold beer.... Does anyone know if they have a BYOB policy one way or the other?

                      1. re: okra

                        I saw a patron in there with his own cold beer, obviously brought in from outside. One in our party asked if this was an option for future visits and the answer was yes.

                        As with most BYOB, discretion is the better part of valor.

                        1. re: yumyum

                          i suggest that broadcasting such information may mean that the restaurant will have to stop allowing people to bring alcohol.

                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                            Some other Belmont restaurants also allow byob, so maybe it's okay with the town.

                        2. re: rlh

                          i thought the lamb teriyaki at golden garden was really bland and not at all spicy. i like the version at new shanghai in chinatown much better

                          1. re: galangatron

                            I look forward to trying the NS version now - mine was spicy in a flavorful way with definite cumin, salt, and red pepper taste, but not a hot pepper spicy kind of flavor.

                            1. re: rlh

                              i detected caraway seeds on the lamb "teriyaki" skewers. to be honest the caraway seemed to carry the dish more than cumin or heat level. it was also present on the lamb cumin entree.

                              photos here you should be able to see what i mean | press left arrow to move to next pic:

                              1. re: tatsu

                                Are you sure it was not just very fresh cumin seed. Sometimes when very fresh, cumin seed can taste surprisingly similar to caraway. I've confused them in the cupboard myself and had to go back and forth to tell.

                                I find that cumin changes flavor VERY quickly after it is ground and loses that similarity.

                                My nickel says it was actually cumin.

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  Here are 100% crops of those two dishes. Maybe it will help determine, although they look quite similar.

                                  1. re: tatsu

                                    I agree with Striper .. I think it's cumin seed.

                                    1. re: yumyum

                                      Stoopid uploader shrunk my pics. Well here's a super close up of caraway:

                                      and here's yellow cumin

                                      1. re: tatsu

                                        Hmmmm, those look pretty similar. The whole cumin and whole caraway I have are so simlar I would need a magnifying glass to tell them apart if they were not labelled.

                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                    Well I am surprised how similar they look and taste whole. It had that anise like taste I associate with caraway. But I am changing my mind, I agree, based on the color, cumin. Thanks for pointing it out.

                          2. I just had this dish yesterday and I can't say I'm in love with it. I like a lot of the other food there, including the garlic vinegar cucumber salad, the dumplings and the shumai, particularly the dongbei style shumai.

                            The carrots really don't belong in this dish in my opinion which isn't a big deal since you can ask for it without the carrots, but the cut of lamb they use is on the lean and mild side. It was a bit dry and stringy. I think a fattier, gamier cut would make it much better.

                            1. Decided to pay them a visit since I needed to stock up on their frozen dumplings. $14.95 for the Pork and Chinese Cabbage and $16.96 for Pork, Leek and Shrimp. For lunch I had the Dan Dan Noodles, good spicing but lacked meat and I also had the Steamed Bacon (cold) with fresh garlic. Really good with tender belly and plenty of garlic. The interior is really depressing with hardly any decorations, dim interior and a very wiggly chair.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Ferrari328

                                Do you ever eat dinner or supper?

                              2. As an aside, I've had this dish a couple of times at New Shanghai lately, and I think it's one of the better Sichuan dishes on its menu.