28 Apr Gold Moon, Brighton
Located at the rear of Dendy Plaza, the site of the old La Porchetta on Well Street has been completely transformed into fine-dining Chinese restaurant, Gold Moon. The two-storey building is elegant and modern, and most unlike any Chinese restaurant I’ve seen before. The exterior features steel beams and rendering, and the facade, full of windows, is partially obscured by bamboo.
Dark wooden panelling, gold accents and cutlery, and comfortable grey chairs and couches make an appearance on the inside. Additional seating with a dedicated bar is found upstairs, along with a private room for up to 12 guests. A small table tucked away in a corner provides a semi-private space to appreciate Chinese tea. There’s a mix of modern square tables and traditional round ones, and the furniture, a little Scandinavian in design, is completely designed by themselves.
The staff credentials are impressive, with a chef from Flower Drum, another just arriving from Hong Kong (ex-Four Seasons Hotel), a dedicated dim sum chef, and Frankie the manager, also coming from Flower Drum. Gold Moon’s owner has experience running two large restaurants in China: one in Wu Han, another in Shen Zhen, and second to open there later this year.
The menu is pricey – it is aiming to be fine dining after all – but high quality ingredients are used too. The dishes are chemical and MSG-free, thanks to the owner’s food science background. Dinner begins with a selection of vegetarian appetisers. Smashed cucumber with garlic and black rice vinegar is a tad salty and has a definite hit of garlic, and the black fungus is slightly vinegary, though a bit plain compared to the other dishes. The Cherry Tomato Salad with dried plum sauce is easily our favourite. Looking a little like red-stained longan, there’s a slightly firm nashi pear-like texture that gives way to the liquid insides of the skinned tomatoes, the slight tang of which, contrasts with the sweetness of the surrounding sauce.
Dim sum include Har Gao, the translucent and silky skins encasing whole prawns, and siu mai, which contain bits of scallop. Kung Pao Prawns are sweet and spicy, with crunch from the cashews and vegetables, and a viscous and flavoursome sauce that goes well with rice.
The Roasted Lamb Ribs are a definite highlight. Seasoned with cumin, Sichuan pepper and chilli, the Sichuan-style ribs are very tender, and not very gamey. No bit of meat is left behind on these bones. The fried chip-like enoki are a delight to crunch on, and are rather addictive. The entire plate is wiped clean.
Soy sauce chicken is one of those dishes mum likes to order from the local Chinese restaurant when she can’t be bothered cooking. Often it can be hit and miss, sometimes tender, other times dry. Here at Gold Moon, the slow-cooked free range chicken has a fine texture, and is smooth and silken. No dry meat to be found, not even in the breast pieces. The sauce is not overly salty, and has a more delicate flavour than the local takeaway variety. We enjoy our mains with fried rice containing fresh prawns and chopped char siu, and a plate of sauteed vegetables.
There are a few sweets to conclude the meal. The coconut pudding is nice and smooth, with a pleasant coconut milk flavour, and the Cantonese mango pancakes are springy, containing slices of mango alongside the cream.
The food at Gold Moon was of high standard, and we left with very good impressions. It’s only a few months old, so although the appetisers weren’t perfect, it only got better from there and there’s plenty of room to grow. We hope to revisit for the $19pp yum cha weekend lunch special, which runs until August.