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Golden Garden in Belmont - ok for people who can't tolerate spice?

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I was thinking of taking my parents to Golden Garden tomorrow, but was wondering how the food would be for people like us who can't tolerate spicy food at all. (Yes, I am that annoying person who goes to Indian restaurants and has to ask for it "very, very mild - bland if possible" and then thoroughly enjoys my meal.)

Would this be a good idea for us, or should we skip it?


Golden Garden
63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

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  1. i believe that there are mild dishes, and i believe that the chef will be responsive to your concerns. There are plenty of good mild dishes on the menu; just ask them to make them extra mild.

    The problem is usually the opposite; restaurants do not believe that americans can tolerate spicy food.

    nothing annoying about someone ordering food to suit her taste.

    1. Absolutely! There are any number of dishes that do not feature chilis. Having said that, there are a good number of dishes that are garlic-y. However even if those are off-limits for your party, that leaves plenty of good stuff on the menu. Be sure to ask the advice of the woman who runs the front of the house. Her English takes some listening to, but she is extremely helpful and nice. I have no doubt you will have a wonderful meal there if you do decide to go. Two top-notch dishes that certainly will work for you there are any of their dumplings and the pork belly and sour cabbage dish. Argh, if only I could find my GG menu! I am sure others will have additional suggestions for you.

      1. Certainly the dumplings and leek pie are mild for apps, there are lots of good mild dishes, my mom likes one of the noodle dishes or chow foon, enjoy

        1. About half the menu is not spicy, if by spicy you simply mean heat. As observed above, the dumplings and vegetable leek pie are not fiery, nor is a dish such as sautéed fish with vegetables (under Seafood). The wonton soup is bland, as well (too bland).

          But if you want additionally to avoid garlic, etc., then (also as observed above) you'll have a tough time here. In fact, I'll be a dissenter and suggest you may be better off looking elsewhere for food. Pretty much all the dishes that make Golden Garden such a special place are hot (except for their very good dumplings). If you want to avoid them, you might as well eat elsewhere. I wouldn't recommend ordering a dish that's meant to be hot and asking them to tone down the heat. It spoils the balance of the dish and, worse, if you still find it too hot and, say, send it back, it will spoil the dish in future for the rest of us. Restaurants are sensitive in the U.S. to the "too spicy" complaint. It doesn't take much for them to start toning things down. We who like hot food have to fight to keep dishes hot. Asking for mild versions of dishes that are meant to be hot only makes it harder for us.

          Golden Garden
          63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

          1. Dishes at Golden Garden that are good but not spicy include sour cabbage with bacon, preserved turnips with pork, beef with cilantro, the dumplings, and I'm sure some other stuff, but between these dishes and our favorite spicy ones, we can't seem to make it into other parts of the menu.

            The best dishes are mainly confined to the specialty of the house page (I can't remember what they call it. The spicy dishes are clearly labeled, and if you stay away from those, you'll be fine.

            Golden Garden
            63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

            1. Another good non-chili-hot dish is the meatballs in brown sauce. 4 big ones, napa cabbage, bean thread noodles. Delicious. Definitely ginger in there though. As others have noted, about half the specials menu is not chili-spicy. Beef in black bean sauce lunch special was not spicy but not all that interesting either.

              1. Many thanks to all who responded. We did end up going and had no problem with spice levels - we just stayed away from anything in red on the menu. We don't have any issues with garlic.

                We got:
                - pork, leek, shrimp dumplings. Just okay - didn't seem to have quite enough pork and was mostly leek

                - green bean noodle with sesame sauce. Not at all what we were expecting. These looked like cubes of jello. The sauce, however, was excellent.

                - beef with scallion (and onion). Very good -- just like how my mother makes it.

                - whole fish with ginger and scallion. Sauce excellent again, but I think they said the fish was tilapia and it was fishier than I like, and also cooked just a shade too short. It was a little bloody inside.

                - sauteed pea pod stems. Fine. Not bad, but not the best I've had, either.

                - shredded potato. Father loved this. I am a big potato fan (see my name) but didn't care for this as much because it just didn't taste like potato.

                - white rice. This was, very surprisingly, the worst part of the meal. We arrived around 11:30 today, and were one of maybe 3-4 occupied tables until we left an hour later. The rice looked kind of old, as it had that dried-out look to it and was kind of discolored like it had been scraped from the bottom of the rice cooker.

                Overall we enjoyed it, though I'm not sure I would make a special trip here. I'd be more likely to go to Mulan instead (haven't been to Shangri-La in ages, so can't compare).

                Sadly, I didn't see aromatherapy's recommendation of the meatballs until I got home - we actually had been considering that as one of our dishes but weren't quite sure about it, and went with the beef with scallions at the last minute.

                1 Reply
                1. re: taterjane

                  Sounds like you had a nice selection of different non-spicy dishes.

                  Golden Garden's menu is interesting, because about half of the authentic dishes on their menu are Sichuan dishes (and fiery hot) and the other half of the authentic dishes are Shandong (Northern) style Chinese dishes, and are not so spicy.

                  The "green bean noodle" or liang2 fen3 is perhaps better translated as "mung bean jelly", because that is what it is. =) Zoe's in Somerville and Top Garden in Tewksbury also do an excellent rendition of this, but with hot Sichuan spicing. The same mung beans are also sometimes made into fen3 si1 or mung bean starch noodles, which are also called cellophane noodles and feel much more like noodles, while liang2 fen3 feels more like jello or even tofu.

                  The shredded potato or tu3 dou4 si1 is also a common dish in Chinese restaurants, and Wang's in Somerville does a nice rendition. The way that potato is prepared in Chinese cooking does lend a different taste than you may have had before, with more emphasis on the texture of potato. Usually, it's just shallow fried --- not deep fried --- and sometimes water is added so the potato is partially steamed while being fried. All this yields a springy and surprisingly firm texture without an outside crunch like a french fry --- I call it "inner crunch". Chinese shredded potato is also usually made with vinegar and often with julienned peppers.

                  Overall, I think some of Golden Garden's best dishes are actually their Sichuan dishes, but it can be good fun to go to a restaurant that I usually think of one way, and try to order something quite different from the menu . . . that's why I even enjoy eating with vegetarians from time to time! =)

                  Top Garden
                  1921 Main St Ste 1, Tewksbury, MA 01876

                  Golden Garden
                  63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478