Friday, October 7, 2011

Golden Fields - (Melbourne)

  I think we all have our dreams,  likes and dislikes.   When it comes to food in Australia,   one can’t help notice how exotic food really takes a thriving.   Think about Thai,  certain specific Chinese dishes  especially Sichuan spicy dishes and Peking ducks as well as Cantonese Dim Sum,  Indonesian and Malaysian or Singaporean style eateries and satays sticks and laksa’s,  Vietnamese pho.   Or the ever zen-like but probably grossly misunderstood Japanese cuisine here,  which in Australia mostly consists of Age-dashi tofu,  Nasu Dengaku,  Yakitori Chicken,  Teriyaki anything, Salmon and Kingfish sushi, or very bad quality pseudo ramens!  Besides, Peking Duck is not representational of any Chinese cuisine either,  it is a specific  Pekinese Cuisine -  but we all order it at a Cantonese restaurant  that is  run by some Hong Kong immigrated chef and come out thinking we got the best Chinese food.  Even though I have subsequently found out,  that most HK Chefs wouldn’t even know how to carve the duck properly let alone cook one -  and the one in Flower Drums is seriously over-rated.  Just check on my Beijing Peking duck reviews for comparison.  


Golden Fields is a Chinese food inspired restaurant and has been awarded the 2012 Best New Restaurant in The Age Good Food Guide.   I arrived here without any biases as per usual.  I always form my judgment afterwards!   I think I had learnt that from appreciating and drinking different styles of coffees and everyone’s own interpretations,  and preference.     Afterall my best friends living in Melbourne that arrived from either China, Taiwan or Hong Kong have already told me that Golden Fields is pretty decent – and so I trust them.  It’s because they have all had enough experience with authentic Chinese food to compare,   and on top of that,  Chef Andrew McConnell has been one of my favourite chefs in town and I have visited nearly all of his previous restaurants over numerous times and also know that he has worked and lived for a number of years in Hong Kong.   I know from experience that he is certainly one hell of a chef and able to cook!   Let’s see and experiment with what we could come up with today!



Fresh Sea Urchin,  Flat Bread,  Crisp Lardo and Escabeche - 
AUD $10 for 2 pieces
The escabeche in cooking has been a Cumulus Inc Spanish influenced signature,  and Spain certainly also eats sea urchins too!     It’s good to see some crispy and fatty ‘lardo chips’ on the menu.  But do they work as a combo on the whole?    Not quite.  The lardo was fragrant,  the dryish escabeche was ok on its own but completely over-powered the fresh sea urchins’ subtle sweetness.   The latter is also soft and too subtle to be paired with an over crisp flatbread.    This dish simply did not work, but nice presentation anyway ~    5/10



Some French Wines -
I made a blunder myself ordering these as I did not foresee that most of the coming up foods were going to pair with more subtle whites.   It always happens !  : )


P1210152-1P1210154-1Crispy Soft Shell Mud Crab,  Fried Egg Aioli, Scuds, Holy Basil -  $21
One of my 1st impressions upon visiting Golden Fields,  is that it is almost like a David Chang Momofuku repeating feat.   We all know Andrew McConnell is an Australian icon and proven chef -  and he is expanding his recent 3rd empire to incorporate some Chinese inspired (rather than Korean or Taiwanese and Japan inspired food like Momofuku) into his latest experimental creations.   How did these softshell crabs fare?   Amazing and the best I’ve ever had!  Most softshell crabs come out of the kitchen being really membrane attached or oily and skinny…  but the ones today were meaty,  fried perfectly to an non-oily state.  The basil and a unique fried egg aioli was a very smart compliment to the overall dish ~  10/10 


New Season Asparagus,  Smoked Hen’s Egg,  Pea Puree & Rice Puffs -  AUD $14
The green Aussie asparagus were quite honestly,  very good and well peeled right where they need to be.  These were young and sweeter than many of the famed French Vaucluse Asparagus we’re used to eating in Michelin restaurants in Hong Kong during spring.   The pea puree was very good along with the rice puffs.   The smoked egg was however so Shanghainese influenced -  it was runny but slightly but not enough smoky.   It is a very interesting combination  as usually poached eggs work better with young asparagus than smoked and more cooked ones.  I really appreciate this dish and its creativity except for the slightly crackly/veiny appearance of the smoked egg.   ~   7.5/10




Shredded Chicken,  Sesame Paste, House Made Cold Rice Noodles, Chilli Oil –  AUD $16
To seasoned eaters  this dish is just the same as 鸡丝粉皮 and often found in Shanghai or Sichuan restaurants,  the biggest difference between them being that one is hotter than the other.   I appreciate the house made cold rice noodles  but they were actually pretty wrong in texture.  They are usually made of up to 4-5 different types of starch flours from sweet potato, rice to green beans etc,  and should be much more longer and curly and ELASTIC nor as thick as in Golden Fields.   The shredded chicken was cooked well and so were the julienned cucumbers.    The tahini like sesame paste was served too thick and sticky and little in portion.  Loved the slight combination of coriander and sichuan spices as well as what appeared to be sous-vide cooked chicken breast.   All in all -  this dish could have been a dynamite dish,  if only the rice noodles were made well enough to its intention.    ~  6.5/10



***For Comparion:   From Sung’s Kitchen (宋家私房菜), Melbourne -
The noodles texture in this proper version is much more accurate.  Try it out yourself to check what I mean!!    No offence to Golden Fields…  but whilst I like the sauce and spices in your version better,  the noodles texture is not quite right there yet.




New England Lobster Roll, Hot Buttered Buns,
Cold Poached Crayfish,  Watercress & Kewpie -  AUD $15 Each
Crayfish and Lobster arguments aside especially in Melbourne when lobsters are often called crayfish for some reason (Maine or Spiny, Boston, etc),  I was pointed out by a well respected Hong Kong foodie friend Little Meg that the original version of this bun are usually made from Boston Lobsters only.  That is not available down south but a lobster is a lobster, even though Boston lobster is probably more related to a crayfish in DNA and all clawy.  The biggest problem I had with this N.E. Lobster Roll interpretation lied with how the original ones as pointed out by the foodie friend,  is that these really ought to be filled with much more lobster body and claws meat full to its bream.   The presentation is also vastly different, as the slit of the bun would be cut vertically or with the meat facing upwards!    There are often micro differences between the same dish -  but I concur and agree with my fellow foodie that THIS IS NOT a New England Lobster Roll,  but only a mere attempt to replicate one down south.      Having said that this tasted good with its bottled Kewpie Japanese mayo,   but  by  giving this restaurant a Best New Restaurant Status 2012 and probably partially based on this Signature dish is probably a little stretching beyond the real truth…    ~    6.5/10

The Real Version  -  this is on the other hand, 
is what a New England Lobster Roll with more Claw Meat should look like -

And without the watercress as pointed out.   A New England lobster roll is called that way for a reason,  and it should at least look remotely like one.  Much like David Chang’s Momofuku Pork Bun looks at least like the real Taiwanese Pork Bun version.   And Golden Field’s/Cutler & Co’s Pork Dumpling is not a dumpling,  it is a BUN!    Photo courtesy of 



Coffees are from Single Origin Roasters from Sydney. 
They are using a blend typical of what is expected amongst 2nd to 2.5 Waver coffee drinkers  -  a base of African,  Indonesian and Brazilian mocha java preference.  A proven formula with a stable and bold body without too much jagged acidity and a hint of earthiness and dark dates and chocolate.   This was pulled using an 18 Gram basket ‘naked’  rather than split up without 2 sprouts,  a method only practised in the most professional of all cafes.   This method put places like St John London’s into oblivion in comparison!  A very well done job! 



Cappuccino -
A silkily smooth job,  and kudos to the bar tender also acting as the busy barista  (which means same thing in Italian).  This to me was surprising in quality because it is best of the world cafe standards -  and explained to be deliberately made without any distracting chocolaty powder on top  just because the barista  says he believes it tastes better this way.  Seems like he understand and loves coffee !  ~    9/10


Price: AUD $60 per person
Food: ♕♕♕♕   (Good Executions,  but interpretations and recipes seemed a bit idealised compared to the real thing,  needs retuning!  A 1 Hatted restaurant deceiving nonetheless)
Coffee:  ♕♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours -
Tues to Sunday -      12pm to 11pm
Breakfasts Fri to Sun -   8am to  11:30am

Address: 157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Ph: 03 9391 6016

1 comment:

  1. I don't really fancy these sort of pseudo asian type of stuff (been disappointed too many times) although sometimes i do give them a try just our of whim/ curiosity/ homesick...

    but although it is pseudo asian, it is nice if they get the flavors and textures right.



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