Har Gau


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Gold Mine (Bayswater), 102 Queensway London W2 3RR

Click here for the previous post on Gold Mine.

After what seemed like 3 weeks of not eating out, in fact, we had not eaten out for 3 weeks. It might have been the cold weather that made me go all hibernatey, or just the lack of motivation to search for new places to try. Whatever the case, we had a busy weekend last week.

Friday - met up with some friends and had dinner at Assa (blogged about here)
Saturday - had dinner at Gold Mine
Sunday - had lunch with some friends at Almeida in Islington (blogged about here)

Nothing like a bit of meal-listing to override the impression we have no social life.

Before I begin, there's always a bit of scene-setting to put things into context. I had a dodgy tummy that day, and despite only having a small bit of sushi for brunch and Ikea meatballs as a snack, I felt bloated the entire day and didn't feel like eating at all. Despite going to dinner quite late (by the time we sat down at the table, it was already about 8.30pm), I still felt full and so, the only thing I ate during the meal was the soup below.


Hot and sour soup (£3 from what I could make out on the bill)

It was one of the nicer hot and sour soups I've had, although the ones I usually have are from takeaways so not only are they bigger in portions, but possibly not as fresh as the ones from restaurants. Gold Mine's version of the soup was OK, nothing too impressive, though I reckon if I'd had it while it was still hot (ie when it was served to me instead of just letting it sit there) it might have been nicer.


Claypot Japanese tofu with minced pork in spicy sauce (about £8)

We'd had this dish before, but couldn't find it on the menu so we asked the waiter (who was really friendly) if he knew what it was. I described it as a Japanese tofu dish, and he immediately knew that I was referring to the one in the spicy sauce. Apparently this can be served either in a claypot or on a sizzling plate, and since we had our clothes to think about, we decided on claypot.

I have to give it to Gold Mine. They are nothing if not consistent. Everytime we've ordered this dish (or any of the other dishes we usually order) they've been almost exactly the same in terms of quality, taste and presentation. I don't know if they have only one chef doing the cooking, but if not, they've trained their chefs really well, and the dishes always, always manage to impress.

People tend to compare the roast duck from Gold Mine to the one from Four Seasons. The 2 restaurants are located a few shops from one another, and aside from the huge signboard showing the restaurant names, you could be forgiven for mistaking one for the other. They serve pretty much the same things (homecooked Cantonese style dishes), have queues going out the door most days, and are famous for their roast ducks.

We used to go to Four Seasons before being recommended to try out Gold Mine by our friends. Since then, we've been back to Four Seasons once, but in my opinion (which counts for nothing, by the way) I prefer the roast duck from Gold Mine to the one from Four Seasons. I also find the other dishes more suitable to my tastebuds here.


Golden sands prawn balls (about £12) Literal translations are so funny ...

If you wanna be all authentic and stuff, then ask the waiter for the 'Gum Sah Har Khau' and you SHOULD get this dish (unless you make a faux pax and say something else, which would be quite funny).


It's basically king prawns (juicy, crunchy and fresh) which have been shelled, and then deep-fried with some stuff which I've yet to find out what it is till today. Something like butter crumbs which look like strands of lovely tasting things. Yes, I do not know what it is, but if you like 'salt and pepper' anything, then you might like this.


Belacan kangkung (about £6) or morning glory stir-fried with prawn paste and chilli

Typically a dish found in Malaysian restaurants, the Chinese restaurants in London have begun serving this dish recently. Or recently to me anyway, because it never occurred to me before that I could even order it here. Because our friends and my fiance really like it, we've begun ordering this everytime we're at Gold Mine. My only complaint about this is that they serve up too many of the stalks and not the leafy bit of the vegetable. I don't reckon it's the restaurant doing this on purpose, because I've tried buying the vegetable from Chinese supermarkets and it's pretty much all stalks in the bag.

Despite that, they manage to keep the stalks tender and crunchy, maintaining the strong taste of the prawn paste while allowing the green flavour of the vegetable to come through.


Siew yuk (about £10) or Chinese roast pork

Because we usually order duck when we're here, we decided to throw caution to the wind (it was an adventurous day) and order the roast pork instead. It could also have been due to the fact that while waiting for the table (a good 20 minutes we waited), we saw many plates of roast pork go by and just couldn't resist.

I didn't try this dish because I just didn't feel like eating, but the fiance said it was crispy enough for his liking. Combined with the other dishes, however, the whole meal was quite salty, but then again, we didn't eat much rice, and Cantonese dishes are meant to be eaten with rice which is why they're stronger tasting and sometimes more salty than other type of Chinese cuisine.

Another consistently good meal at Gold Mine; reasonable prices, friendly waiting staff, and tried-and-tested dishes all make for an enjoyable dinner experience.

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