The Noodler

Friday, November 17, 2006

Golden Leaf Chinese Cuisine
307 Spadina Ave

Golden Leaf is the first really expensive restaurant I have reviewed. The original plan was for my father and I to go to another restaurant, which turned out to be closed for lunch. When we walked into the Golden Leaf what first struck me was the d├ęcor. It was very clean, with a modern touch. There was nice art on the walls, along with pictures of the famous people that had eaten there including many Chinese politicians and Bill Cosby. When we first got the attention of the waitress and ordered drinks I was a little surprised to find that when you ordered a Coke it came in the can, not in a glass with ice. When we asked for a glass with ice it took a very long time to get both the glass and the ice, which came separately. This service surprised me in what I thought to be a very high-class restaurant.

The manager seemed very helpful to all of the other patrons so I sought his advice for our order. He knew the food very well, but seemed to rush through our ordering process, and when I said that I did not want one of his recommendations he was very condescending. This ruins a restaurant for me. The Golden Leaf is a very good restaurant yet I do not feel that the menu contains very many dishes that most people would be unfamiliar with. It is also just bad house policy to force your recommendations on your patrons. In all of the cases of servers in Chinatown not being able to speak English, or rushing through a restaurant that is barely holding its capacity I have never had service worse than this server.

The food however is delicious. We ordered four dishes off the Dim Sum menu, steamed shrimp dumplings, enoki mushroom and veggie dumplings, deep fried shrimp balls with mango and stir fired turnip cake Singapore style. The two dumplings were above average but with no real innovation, except that the veggie dumplings contained enoki, which was a nice surprise after E-Pan. The shrimp balls were nice and fresh but the mango seemed like more of an afterthought, the turnip cake was sensational. This dish is usually served in three or four cakes that are square, sometimes with little bits of pork. The turnip cakes resembled gnocchi more then the traditional turnip cake and were tossed with lightly stir-fired veggies and with a lovely yellow curry Singapore flavour. I usually love this dish in its traditional form, but this innovation brought it to a new level. We also ordered hot and sour soup, which was good but the dish we ordered from the menu, honey and black pepper beef tenderloin with pancakes, stood out as much as the turnip cakes. We each got two pieces of tenderloin served on a soft thin pancake topped with a crunchy fried pancake and then topped with another soft pancake. This reminded me slightly of one of the courses in a rainbow chopped and crystal fold Peking duck meal, the skin is served on a pancake with hoi sin and a scallion and then rolled and eaten. For some the tenderloin in this dish may be served on the rare side, so I would recommend telling the server how you like it cooked.

As I have said previously it is food above all else, and the food here is wonderful. I cannot, however excuse, the manager for being totally condescending to a customer. Therefore what would have been my only other A restaurant so far is moved down to a B+.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

So sorry about the lack of updates recently. There are two on there way very soon. I promise.

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