Star chef Nu Suandokmai’s latest venture has been an instant success.
Golden Boy showcases Suandokmai’s obvious talent for modernising traditional Asian cuisine and there are many similarities to be found with his previous Adelaide restaurant Nu Thai.
Nestled in the corner of the Botanic Bar, Golden Boy has been pushing customers through numerous sittings at a great rate – a staff member claims the restaurant occasionally hits four separate sittings as the kitchen is open until midnight.
The bar-like hours of the kitchen is a marriage of convenience for the Botanic Bar, with customers rotating from bar to restaurant to bar.
On the mid-week night I visit, it takes only 15 minutes for Golden Boy to go from empty to bursting with patrons eager for the 6pm sitting. A smoky aroma from the charcoal grill out back wafts across the restaurant as staff scurry through the crowd.
It is a trendy fit-out – scribbles and weird pictures mark the wall as some kind of art, bench seats and small tables line the walls, and a communal-style marble bar splits the room in half. Cleverly, mirrors at the kitchen end of the room give the illusion that the dining area is much bigger than it actually is.
Golden Boy utilises every space possible for seating, with diners perched at the bar on high stools. This is where I am perched, the barman directly in front of me madly shaking and stirring cocktails.
There is also a decent view of the busy kitchen, which is surrounded by seats for those who want a teppanyaki-style show.
The wine list is compact, with some unusual varieties; it is well priced, and has a good selection of bubbles. There is also a small list of cocktails, but the barman is happy to accommodate pretty much anything thrown at him.
The large food menu doubles as a place mat: it is divided into sections including finger-food starters, stir-fries, salads, curries and charcoal grill. And it is massive, with many tempting dishes: luckily, an extremely affordable $48-per-person ($58 including dessert) “tuk-tuk” menu takes the pain of choice out of the evening.
Food comes out almost immediately, starting with a pile of smoked trout lumped on a green betel leaf. Fresh bursts of fish roe cut cleanly through a smoky XO sauce and the delicate house-smoked fish.
A lightly seared tuna sashimi is amazingly tender and obviously of the highest-quality fish. Sharp soy sauce is sweetened with palm sugar; coriander gives a fresh burst while delicate slivers of chilli add heat to a simple yet first-class dish.
Staff are also high-quality, well-versed in the menu and chatty without being obtrusive – they easily answer any queries and seem to enjoy the bustle and the pace.
Next is Golden Boy’s version of san choy bow – a crisp lettuce cup filled with spicy minced chicken, fresh herbs and cracked rice for texture.
The finale is a “dry curry” of soft-shell crab. A mountain of lightly battered sections of tender crab sit above a red curry sauce; fresh green peppercorns are a nice touch.
The four courses are more than sufficient, and great value – ordered separately it would have costed $70.
The amount of choice and the speed at which the food is delivered is quite amazing, considering the peak periods the restaurant seems to thrive on.
Food is genuinely first-class: fresh minimal ingredients of bold contrasting flavours are expertly prepared and simply presented.
It is a short but sweet experience. Food does come out rather quickly, yet we don’t feel rushed. Staff never mention the obvious fact that spots are booked for another sitting at 8pm.
Golden Boy finds the right balance between fast but honest cuisine and the trendy, hipster attitude of the East End.
Suandokmai’s already indelible imprint on Adelaide’s dining scene has only been enhanced – he has already conquered Gougar Street and one may even venture that he is now the Golden Boy of Adelaide’s East End.
Four out of five.
309 North Terrace, Adelaide
Ph: 8227 0799
Wed-Thu & Sat-Sun 6pm-2am
(Closed for Christmas from December 23 to January 3)
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