Usually when I eat Chinese food in London, it’s dim sum, which means it’s rare that I go out for “regular” Chinese food. So it was a nice change when our friends decided we should meet them at Gold Mine this past Saturday.
The TimeOut review of Gold Mine claimed that the restaurant serves “Queensway’s finest cantonese roast duck”, and while I haven’t eaten at many places on Queensway, the duck was pretty delicious and lived up to the hype – moist and gamey with a crispy skin and bits of luscious duck fat to soak up all the dripping-enhanced sugar-and-soy sauce. Well worth the £9 .50 for a half-duck portion.
After that, the food ranged from “good but nothing special” to “holy cow, this is what gives Chinese food a bad name.”
In the first category were dishes like sauteed morning glory, which was tasty only after we added a liberal amount of salt. The steamed sea bass was well-executed with a firm, fresh fish, but in a restaurant where most main courses cost £10, paying £23 for the fish hardly seemed to be good value.
I was pretty excited to see fried tofu stuffed with minced prawns on the menu, but Gold Mine’s version was a bit flavorless despite the heavy brown sauce. It needed a lot more of the minced prawn to impart flavor to the tofu.
Char kway teow had gotten a mention in several reviews I’d read about Gold Mine, but really, I should’ve known better than to order a Malaysian classic at a Cantonese resto. The version we had was – as seemed to be a recurring theme – flavorless. Just a mass of greasy, soy-sauced noodles. No spice. Unbelievably, it wasn’t the worst dish we had, which honor went to a dish described as fried chicken with chilis, which turned out to be chunks chicken breast doused in more generic brown sauce.
Service was harried but attentive; the decor is utilitarian. I’d definitely go back for the roast duck, and maybe I’d try the roast (char siu) pork, too. In the end, the roast duck was the only thing that saved Gold Mine from being just another cheap, undifferentiated Chinese takeaway joint.
With a crappy-tasting bottle of white wine for £14.50, our total (including service charge) for five main courses and four portions of white rice was £90 (i.e., about £23 a person).
Gold Mine, 102 Queensway, W2 3RR; 0207 792 8331; closest tube station: Bayswater