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
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.