Monday 4 March 2013

Gold Mine, Bayswater

When one thinks of Chinatown in London, you're automatically directed to Gerrard Street just off Leicester Square. Not famed for the high quality of the food, those who know better go to Bayswater instead. I never bothered heading West to this concentrated strip of restaurants until a couple of weeks ago. In a city where more obscure Chinese cuisines are being embraced (Sichuan, Hunanese, Xinjiang), the poor old Cantonese staples, food that I grew up with, have been neglected by me quite heartily. 

Gold Mine has a reputation for duck, specifically Cantonese-style roasted duck. I've heard myths of Singaporean students buying them ready vac-packed and flying them back to Singapore with them for their families. You can reserve tables, and we went en masse for a Chinese New Year dinner. It's not big inside and they pack you in, but the staff were friendly and welcoming.

Roast duck comes in various portion sizes, either on the bone or off. I was worried that I'd built this duck up in my head quite substantially; I'd spent a long afternoon thinking about that laquered skin and glistening fat (it was a small lunch day...). I needn't have worried as it was pretty much glorious. 10 pairs of chopsticks came flying in as we tried to stay polite but really, we (I) failed. I preferred meat on the bone - there's just something about chewing around little bones that I enjoy, and it seemed slightly more succulent. The main competitor on the roast duck front is Four Seasons, but having tried that a few days ago I preferred Gold Mine's; the sauce drizzled over it was more savoury, Four Seasons' more sweet, and the meat less flabby than Four Seasons' version. 

Steamed egg with century egg and salted egg yolks was eggy heaven. Steamed until it is just set like a custard, this savoury dish is delicately flavoured. Each wobbly spoonful I had a little century egg or salted egg yolk hidden within it, and eaten with some steamed rice, it was comforting and creamy. They also do a prawn and scallop version which I'm keen to try. 

Siu yuk (crispy belly pork) was decent, though overshadowed by the duck that had arrived at the same time. Golden sand prawns disappeared in the blink of an eye; the prawns are coated in a salted egg yolk batter and fried, then mixed with chilli and garlic. I'd order a double portion next time. Aubergines with minced pork claypot was strangely flavourless and largely unremarkable, but the Japanese tofu with minced pork (pictured above) was another story. Discs of this soft tofu were fried so that they had a crisp outer coating, and then braised with the pork. 

Most of the table weren't keen on the pork spare ribs with bitter melon, which I sort of suspected might happen when I ordered it. Bitter melon is properly bitter, which I like but I've not found many who agree with me. Pea shoots fried with garlic made up the vegetal component, and although cooked a little past the point I'd have liked, they were tasty and fresh enough. 

Desserts were classic Cantonese restaurant style; banana and apple fritters I gave a wide berth and instead concentrated on a nice, grease-free fried red bean pancake, bafflingly garnished with parsley. 

For roughly £25 a head with beers and service, it was no Michelin-angling HKK, but decent Cantonese food done well. Probably the best roast duck I've had in London too, though I haven't yet done a duck tour. My arteries wouldn't approve. 

Gold Mine

102 Bayswater
London W2 3RR

Tel: 020 7792 8331

Gold Mine on Urbanspoon


Richard Elliot said...

Good roast duck is glorious. When I was living in Sydney I did a couple of tours based on recommendations of Chinese colleagues to find the best duck in the Sydney.

Bitter melon is not one of my favourites either. My Thai friend has force fed it to me promising me that it is packed with anti-oxidants.

Shu Han said...

I LOVE STEAMED EGG. I think their steamed triple egg thing is their best dish., will happily have that over roast duck. Maybe.

J@Feasttotheworld said...

Oh I do agree with SH, their egg dish was indeed amazing !!
I 've only tried their seafood version which was sooooo good! Definitely need a return trip to try this Pei Dan version too.

Mr Noodles said...

Apparently, Gold Mine's roast meats master used to work at Four Seasons before he was poached when Gold Mine was set up. BTW, I can't believe you didn't mention their chilli oil - GM's chilli oil is legendary!

The Perfect Trough said...

Growing up west, Bayswater was always our 'Chinatown' - and I have no heritage going on at all. Especially for roast meats! Although of course dim sum and seafood are well covered too.

We'd never dream of going to Gerrard Street. I'll put this one on the list - curious about the bitter melon too...

Su-Lin said...

I love Gold Mine. Did you guys have the Ah-ma siu yuk? They chop up the siu yuk and then stir fry it with sticky dark soy. YUM.

Their dry beef hor fun is also excellent...especially with that chilli oil that Mr Noodles mentions.

Wen said...

Hell, I'll do a duck tour with you girlie, although my money's already on GM for the win.

I'm with Su-Lin and Jason, recommend the Ahma siuyoke and seafood steamed egg next time.

Also quite like their shang-tang cai - spinach poached in broth, garnished with egg, salted egg and century egg. mmmmmm


Hollow Legs said...

Richard - Does the Sydney duck compare to London's? I'm sure bitter melon is, anything that bad tasting has to be healthy right? ;)

Shu-Han - ME TOO! Why have that over the other when you can have both?

J - I want the seafood version! I tried the triple egg at Four Seasons and it was not as good.

Mr Noodles - WHAT? I didn't try the chilli oil! Oh goddamn. I'll have to go back...

Perfect Trough - Yes, do try the bitter melon, though I think Hung's on Wardour Street does a better version - rounds stuffed with pork and prawn in a black bean sauce.

Su Lin - NO! I didn't see that! Oh man I have to go back.

Wen - Duck tour is ON! So many more things from Gold Mine's menu to try!

UdyRegan said...

I'm sure we don't have anything like this is in the Perth version of Bayswater although I'm sure we have similar alternatives.. Let me just clean my drool up off the floor and I'll go hunting for it..