Golden Palace brings luxurious Chinese dining to Midtown
Impeccable decor at the new Golden Palace is accompanied by friendly service, and with more than 170 dishes to choose from, mild or spicy, vegetarian or omnivorous, there are numerous tastes to be treasured.
At night, red paper lanterns and white icicle lights highlight the golden brick exterior. Inside I was greeted by a highly carved chair and familiar shimmering wallpaper. Golden Palace is a sister to Dynasty on Portola Drive in Santa Cruz, and our server said the owner designed everything, right down to his shiny black shirt emblazoned with a sequined dragon. New tall-backed booths offer privacy and are decorated with gilded plastic dragons, as is the circular table which seats 14.
I savored the soothing floral aroma of imported jasmine tea ($3). The soups were all made with densely flavored broths. I loved the Red Oil Ravioli Soup ($6.95) with the fragrance of sesame oil. With slices of green onions, chili flakes, Chinese greens and fat wonton ravioli stuffed with seasoned pork, it was just spicy enough. Szechwan Noodle Soup ($5.95) was similarly spicy but with plump chow mein noodles. For a milder start, Wor Wonton Soup ($7.50) included prawns and sweet peas, shredded chicken, greens and carrots.
A small kettle of Shrimp Ball Pot ($13.95) suspended over a flame held shrimp, airy tofu, thin bean thread noodles, fresh cilantro, ginger, and mushrooms with the texture of shiitake in a delicate broth.
Like a carb-free pot sticker, seasoned minced chicken was steamed in neat triangles of Foil-wrapped Chicken ($6.95); very tasty, except the filling often stuck to the foil’s liner.
The meat dishes were mainly, if not all, meat. Delectable Plum Sauce Chicken ($9.95) is described as “old-style Kung Pao.” Cubed white meat was stir-fried with green onion, celery, crisp water chestnuts, crunchy peanuts and slender hot peppers. The marvelously spicy, shiny sauce with flecks of chilies held a hint of sugar.
House Kung Pao Chicken ($10.95) from what I understand is Americanized, and similar except that the meat is dusted with starch and fried, giving it a crisp but not bready exterior.
Fingers of very tender General Chicken ($9.95), said to be created in the Americas is, again, rubbed with starch and fried with chilies, ginger and garlic were lacquered in spicy dark sauce with sweet and sour tones.
Ginger beef ($11.95) was topped with green onions and ginger threads. The texture of this mildly flavored meat was akin to soft jerky.
Caramelized onions sizzled on a cast iron oval for the delicious Beef Sizzling Iron Platter ($12.95). The server added marinated meat, which spat and hissed; the steam burning his hand as he stirred. This beef was tender, redolent of fresh garlic, with water chestnuts, snow peas, and baby corn.
I would return, too, for the Szechwan Chicken ($9.50). Still-crisp broccoli florets and thin squares of breast meat were covered with a sweet and tart dark sauce flecked with soft chilies.
Twenty-two weekday lunch specials ($6.95 to $8.50) include rice and soup, and on Sundays Dim Sum is served along with the regular menu.
Golden Palace, 415 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 427-9275. Beer and wine license pending. Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.