15 Sep 2014
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Golden Temple: Dinner for the Lunar New Year

Beacon Street restaurant-cum-nightclub offers an enticing pan-Asian dinner, but a heavy hand with the oil

Golden Temple: Dinner for the Lunar New Year Golden Temple: Dinner for the Lunar New Year Golden Temple: Dinner for the Lunar New Year Golden Temple: Dinner for the Lunar New Year Golden Temple: Dinner for the Lunar New Year Golden Temple: Dinner for the Lunar New Year

For many observing the , the perfect way to ring in the year of the water dragon is with an enticing feast of Chinese food.  And feels like an inviting place to celebrate. 

This is sort of a restaurant-cum-nightclub, one half resembling cruise-ship style opulence—perfect for the sixty-and-up crowd—and the other half a bar under a high ceiling that, architecturally at least, makes me think of dining inside a beehive.  The crowd here is a mix of teenyboppers and middle-aged folks lingering over their happy hour drinks, ordering everything from margaritas to sake to adeptly-mixed drinks with names like the Raspberry Retropolitan and the Suffering Bastard. 

The menu's length approaches the overwhelming, offering a hodgepodge of Chinese, Japanese, and Thai specialties alongside real outliers like french fried Yukon potatoes, and mussels in a tomato, basil, and white wine sauce.  Several full opening pages devote themselves to an essay on the restaurant's wholesome mores; ostensibly, the thesis reads "no MSG and no trans fats" and the body paragraphs contain a liberal sprinkling of buzzwords like 'fresh,' 'natural,' and 'healthy.'

And yes, just a few bites can convince you that the ingredients are high-quality.  But the kitchen seems to use a heavy hand with that 100% extra virgin olive oil that they advertise so wholeheartedly, and too much of even the healthier fats verges upon excess.

This is especially true with the Golden Cloud noodles, a heap of thin yellow noodles with a lovely seared flavor and a delightful crunch where, here and there, a noodle cooked up crispy.  The whole thing is punctuated with strips of meat cooked up to that alluring just-done point, but it's oily enough to leave your lips slick with every bite.

A dish of Green beans with garlic gives you crisp-tender green beans with whole cloves of garlic, brown and mellowed from the heat.  The flavor is truly garlicky, but there's a nearly superfluous sauce with too much salt and oil, burdening the entire dish with a weight it doesn't deserve.

I loved the Sechuan eggplant with beef, which offered wonderfully supple eggplant with sensational garlic flavor, though it lacked a real Sechuan-style kick. 

Some appetizer choices, like a plate of potstickers whose dough didn't quite make it to crispy, provide decent starters or bar food.  Gulf shrimp wrapped in bacon turned out to be a rather bizarre appetizer: four pieces of bacon, dipped in egg and fried, then each laid over one butterflied shrimp and doused in a sort of ginger-spiked barbeque sauce. 

All things considered, prices seem high, with most appetizer choices hovering around $10, and full-size meat entrees $13 and up; many entrees approach or surpass the $20 mark. 

Late in the evening, the restaurant's trendier half erupts into a true nightspot, liberally utilizing both the DJ booth and the bar.  So I'll take the menu's declaration that "Golden Temple encourages a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and exercise" to mean a regime of dinner, followed by dancing.


Golden Temple is open Sunday through Thursday 11:00am to 1:00am, and Friday-Saturday 11:00am to 2:00am.  1651 Beacon Street, Brookline.  MBTA: Green Line (C) to Washington Square.

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