NYC Dining: Golden Gate


Golden Gate Chinese Restaurant
3550 Johnson Ave, Bronx, NY
(718) 549-6206

What do Jews do on Christmas? We Eat Chinese Food.

Inspired by Paul Lukas’s recent article in the New York Sun, three of us embarked on Christmas Eve to Golden Gate, an old-school American-Chinese Restaurant in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, one of the last bastions of Jewish-American activity in that part of the city. Opened in 1958, it remains one of the few very traditional American-style Chinese restaurants serving “Polynesian-style” Cantonese food.

Unlike other restaurants of its type, like King Yum in Flushing, Chan’s Dragon Inn (Ridgefield, NJ), or Lee’s Hawaiian Islander (Lyndhurst, NJ) Golden Gate doesn’t flaunt its kitcsh with such artificial contrivances as Tiki gods, stuffed tropical birds or outrigger canoes — it looks like a normal Chinese restaurant. But what it lacks in decor it makes up for in the execution of its dishes, which are very high quality, and they definitely excel at that old-school American Chinese flavor we know and love. While I don’t think this is the best example of its type, especially when compared to King Yum (which still remains my benchmark for this type of cuisine) but its definitely worth going go, especially on Christmas or when you have a jonesing for this kind of food.

Storefont on Johnson Ave. There’s a Glatt Kosher grocery next door, and no fewer than 4 other Asian restaurants on this short block, along with the Hebrew Home for the Aged. A very good sign that you’re in score for old-school American Chinese food, done properly.

Oy. Where’s the Tiki Bar? Click the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for some serious Bronx retro-Chinese food.

Restaurant Interior

The restaurant has been in the neighborhood since 1958, although its original location burned down 20 years ago.

While not as comprehensive a tropical drink listing as King Yum’s, they’ve got the bare essentials down.

The Mai Tai and the Aloha Delight. Both of these will knock you flat on your ass. We also had a Zombie, which looks just like the drink on the left. Also extremely potent.

A trio of traditional Chinese-American soups, which we thought were among the best we’ve ever had, especially the Egg Drop Wonton and the Hot and Sour.

Pupu Platter, which arrives in an un-Flaming version, an interesting variation. Spareribs (very good, but definitely not “Best in the City” as Lukas asserts — I reserve that for King Yum) , shrimp toast (excellent), pork shu mai dumplings (meaty and good), foil-wrapped chicken (tasty), Polynesian roast pork skewers (very good), chicken wings (good, but the least impressive item on the platter).

Spare Ribs closeup

Egg Rolls, which we thought were disappointing. Just the straightforward kind with ground pork in them. Not anywhere close to King Yum’s version.

Pork Egg Foo Young, which we all agreed was excellent, and we liked the fact the sauce came on the side.

Pork Egg Foo Young Closeup

Chicken Fried Rice, which was good, certainly superior to that of your average Chinese restaurant. Not as heavily soyed up as King Yum’s (which I think has one of the best in the area) and I think we would have done better by ordering this with roast pork.

On Paul Lukas’ reccomendation we ordered the Lobster with Burnt Pork, an excellent dish, definitely one that you shouldn’t miss ordering. The ground pork was cooked with the lobster (cooked Hong Kong-style, like the tradtional Lobster Cantonese dish), imparting an interesting flavor. The pork bits (which aren’t “burnt” per se but more caramelized) are cooked in a strongly-flavor oyster sauce with lots of scallions.

Steak Kew, which is a variation on Beef and Broccoli, but uses chunks of sirloin steak instead of shell. Many call for Hoisin sauce preparation, but we thought this may have had Oyster or Black Bean in it. The steak was a little fatty, however it was cooked exactly medium rare and had a lot of taste and the proper texture.

The Classic cheap but vibrantly colored “Chinese Restaurant” orange sherbet and day-glo green pistachio ice cream. Much to Rachel’s disappointment, the pistachio lacked Maraschino cherry peices (however we are aware that variation is now quite rare). But it did have a lot of actual pistachio peices in it, which I liked.

5 Responses to NYC Dining: Golden Gate

  1. Rich says:

    Doesn’t pistachio ice cream at Chinese restaurants usually have almonds in it instead of pistachios? I never got that but assumed it was an economic decision.

  2. lauren says:

    send some to LA! can’t et anything close out here.

  3. Striver says:

    Great pictures, and a fair assessment – except for the spare ribs, which we order often (I live in the neighborhood). I’m originally a Queens kid, raised in North Flushing. Although we mainly went to Lum’s on Northern Blvd (and Dragon Seed in Jackson Heights, where my sister had her Sweet 16 paty), I’m very familiar with King Yum, and though their ribs are fine, I’ve got to agree with Lukas: Golden Gates’ are better. The one is the picture is about medium sized; in a large order, the biggest ribs are immensely satisfying and the short wide fatty, highly carmelized end-of-the-rack is worth fighting for.

    I do have to get back to King Yum’s, though…

  4. I’ll have to get a large order of ribs, Striver. Certainly I think its possible that you might not get the full experience unless you have a complete rack.

    Golden Gate is a lot closer to where we live than King Yum; so I’m definitely going to be back.

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