Recently I accompanied Derek, a member of the North team, for a check-out visit to Gold Mountain in SF Chinatown. Id not been there since a going-away lunch with Spencer a few years ago. Clean and brightly lit, this place was full of hustle and bustle even on a weekday, and we were led to rows of formica-clad two-tops pushed together in the back. This turned out to be a good spot to sit, as these were the tables closest to where the food carts emerged from the kitchen for the freshest choices.
First the disappointments the har gow had thick and mealy-textured wrappers around an underseasoned and pasty filling. The siu mai were strangely tough and dried out. These two faults for dim sum staples were enough to knock Gold Mountain out of contention. BBQ pork turnovers with flaky pastry were flavorful and lean but the pastry was soggy and not crispy layered.
Yet, despite these serious lapses, the remaining dishes were very tasty indeed. The braised bean curd roll was outstanding, overstuffed with various dried veggies and cellophane noodles, as long as you wiped off the gloppy cornstarch laden brown sauce. Black bean spareribs were delicious and tender/firm in texture with a smooth and succulent mouthfeel. The braised chicken feet were plumped up to the max and well-infused with a complex sauce. The rice noodle wrapper on the shrimp-filled crepe was not as tender as some, but the soy-based seasoned sauce was very refined and intricate in flavor.
Plates of Hong Kong-style chow mein (jin min) on adjoining tables looked great, so we ordered the Gold Mountain combination off the menu (shown below). The pillow of fine noodles had the elusive wok-breath aroma and delicate crispness from being freshly fried. The gravy on the noodles was particularly tasty. The toppings of chicken, bbq pork, mushroom, bok choi hearts, scallops, prawns, fresh calamari, and dried squid were generous, but we felt there was too much dried squid tentacles pushing the balance toward mustiness.
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