Okay, she’s not really my “little cousin” per se as she’s only about a month younger than me but she is 1) several inches shorter than me and 2) everyone calls her “Libby’s little cousin” so let’s leave it at that shall we?
So today Jess (cousin) graduated from Melbourne Uni with a Bachelor of Food Sciences. Her graduation ceremony was this morning at some ridiculous hour like 10am or something like that (I say ridiculous because it was, after all, a Saturday ceremony). Because she had only told us about the ceremony a few days ago, I couldn’t make it because I had made plans with Aaron way in advance (Coffee Scavenger Hunt – will write it up on Monday during work – trust me, it’s going to be a long one). I did, however, go to her graduation dinner because c’mon, who would say no to free food?!
It was booked for 14 people at Golden Dragon Palace, not very far from my house. While I’ve been there numerous times for yum cha, I’ve never actually see the place in action for dinner so I was very interested in seeing what they could come up with. Now, GDP is quite a different place at night. Sure, the OTT dragon motifs are still there and sure, the tables are pretty much all full. The lighting, however, is dimmed. There is live piano playing. The waiters aren’t as rushed compared to Sunday yum cha sessions. It’s rather classy in a non-tackily opulent Flower Drum sense and for a minute, I’m impressed.
We made the booking at 7:30pm and it takes us about half an hour to order our food (Indonesians do have this frustrating habit of dwadling over the menus instead of getting straight to the point). Our pre-dinner soups come at 8:40pm and off we went. Yeah, we did realise that it DID take them 40 minutes to bring us our soups but at this stage, we were still in jolly moods and I was too busy looking at Jess’ graduation photos and her ceremony program so I let it slide.
Instead of the pork bone-flavoured herb and MSG concoction that we get at places in Box Hill, we get a rather mild and pleasant soup that’s made out of clear chicken broth and filled with fish fillets and baby corn. Okay, so there was still a bit of MSG in it but not in dangerous doses.
Then our bowls were taken away and we waited. And waited. And waited. We might have been patient the first time (when they brought us our soups) but at this stage, we were getting a bit antsy. At 9:00pm, our dishes were still missing and it got to the point where someone on the table got pissy and said to the waiter “Could you be a little bit quicker?” (I would’ve probably been a bit more polite but whatever). The waiter then said to her, “We’re sorry, we’re extremely busy tonight.” Fair enough you’re busy but after years in business, you’d think that they would be able to get enough staff to do the busy Saturday dinner shift. Either that or just tell over the phone that they can’t accommodate a large table of 14. Finally, our food came at 9:10pm. All at once too, which would’ve been a good thing (I didn’t want to wait another 30 mins for the second main to arrive) but when I found out that one of the beef dishes was cold, I knew that I wasn’t going to like the food.
Foreground: Cantonese peppered fillet steak, which wasn’t particularly different from anything I’ve had in Box Hill.
Background: The crispy fried seafood noodles, however, were surprisingly nice. I loved that they chucked a generous dose of seafood goodies on top of the noodles (also a generous serving). What I didn’t like, however, was the fact that the second batch of the same dish arrived NOT AT ALL CRISPY. Idiots.
Salt and pepper tofu. They upped the ante on the five-spice powder but used a lot less salt compared to other places. The tofu was also crispy without being too oily. Love it.
Sorry for the lack of details and pricing. I didn’t pay for the dinner and so I didn’t study the menu extensively. I think most of the mains were around the $20-30 mark.
That was the last food photo before I decided that I couldn’t be bothered and besides, the lazy susan just kept moving and moving so it was really hard to take proper photos without someone getting pissy with me (not very easy to take photos while 13 impatient diners were glaring at me). Anyway, most of the food was the stuff that you could find at Lantern Garden and Canton Lake so they weren’t really worth wasting battery power over. Okay fine, so the food quality was a little bit better than the above restaurants (and hence, pricier) but not by much. At the end of the day, I would’ve been just as happy going to Box Hill but I could understand that a graduation would require a much nicer setting and if you’re in my family, a restaurant that makes an appearance in the Good Food Guide at the very least (as long as it’s not overly expensive). I would also like to use this space to laugh at the wine that Tante Kesia bought for dinner. I had just sniffed and swirled my wine like a pretentious arse before taking a sip and declaring it “too sweet” for my liking. I was suspiciously thinking that they had brought a dessert wine and once I read the label, I saw that I was right. Who the eff brings dessert wine to a Chinese restaurant to eat with Chinese food?! Does. Not. Work. Ugh. Needless to say, I barely touched my wine.
My gweilo dessert: deep-fried pineapple fritter and ice cream ($8, I think). I just wanted to highlight the fact that my ice cream had melted considerably by the time it arrived in front of me. The reason for this? Everyone had received their desserts except for me. My dessert had sat untouched on a nearby cart for about 5 mins, being passed by several waiters in that time, until I caught the eye of one waiter and glanced at the cart before he finally got the message and ran to tap his coworker on the shoulder. The coworker then went up to the cart and placed the ice cream in front of me. I didn’t see why the first waiter couldn’t have just given the dessert to me himself but whatever…
Golden Dragon Palace. Hmmmm. More expensive than Box Hill places. The food (dinner menu) is only just a little bit better. And the service is slow and disorganised (though I admit that they are more friendlier than other Chinese places). I suppose it’s okay but I wouldn’t be going there for my next graduation dinner!