Picking up the giant menu book at Golden Century is like sitting down for story time, but the tale you’re about to embark on involves a lot of shellfish, eating all the fried things and having hazy recollections of thinking that second bottle of Hunter Valley chardonnay from Scarborough was a bonza idea.
You can’t call yourself a true Sydneysider unless you’ve had at least one post-rager dinner here ordering sticky, burgundy-hued barbecue pork, steamed prawn dumplings, fried spring rolls and salt and pepper squid. In fact, they’ll salt and pepper pretty much anything that stays still long enough, and while the tofu is good, the pork ribs are better. The extra flavoursome meat has for the most part been stripped off the bone then deep fried, the golden shell shown no mercy by the hand that seasons it, with extra garlic and fiery red chilli on top. You will reach for big gulps of Chinese tea between mouthfuls.
Even though they’re open until 4am, making them the beloved port of every hospo worker and gigging band in this city, at 6.30pm on a weeknight they’re just as popular, and the appeal isn’t the giant papier-mâché crab at the top of the escalators or the lady offering to take photos and print them on the spot like it’s still 2006.
It’s what’s in the tanks that counts, and it’s a collection of crazy fresh live seafood. Don’t even try pretending you’ll get out of here without an order of pippies in XO sauce. They show you your catch in a bag on its way to the kitchen and then mere moments later those little briny bivalves have burst open to luxuriate in the unctuous, savoury seafood sauce.
When you need to soak up some booze, stat, the only way to do it is with the classic Cantonese cooking that they’ve been perfecting here for over 27 years. And they even open on Christmas Day. That’s how legendary this place is.