Golden Fields

157 Fitzroy Street

St Kilda, VIC 3182
03 9525 4488
www.goldenfields.com.au
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Inside Melbourne’s foodie world, two big Asian-inspired places have opened this year at around the same time: Chin Chin and Golden Fields. Since I had quite recently visited (and raved about) Chin Chin, it was only imperative that a visit to Golden Fields should follow. And I had good enough reason to go: Lachlan had been to both, enjoyed Chin Chin but was blown away by Golden Fields. My boss, whose taste buds I trust, also had a meal at the Fields and loved it. And a few of my blogger compatriots have been ooh-ing about its lobster rolls.
Golden Fields

To me, the name of this place is quite rightfully chosen. The words ‘Golden Fields’ evokes in me figments of quiet village life in Southeast Asia. I’d imagine wet padi fields reflecting the yellow glimmer of a monsoon sunset. Yet at the same time, the words still don’t feel Asian. Which is how chef Andrew McConnell (Cumulus Inc, Cutler and Co) has positioned the restaurant’s cuisine edge: Eastern food as seen, cooked and served with a Non-Asian curator’s eyes.
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If I want to sound rude, I could call it “neither here nor there”. But (lol) that isn’t true, it’s more a cuisine base that’s quite Asian and yet has McConnell’s indelible touch in it, bringing things to another level. And unlike Cutler and Co’s ponderous wait list that’s sometimes months long, McConnell’s newest venture doesn’t take reservations unless the group is big. I like this new approach, it means that if you’re patient enough, you will probably get a table on any given night. They also serve lunch here, and do breakfasts on weekends.

Golden Fields
Golden Fields

The space and the crowd feels more dressy than Chin Chin’s. You got an open-plan dining hall filled with tables and a long bar on one side, behind which the waiters, chefs and bartenders literally move in gorgeous synchrony. And boy was it busy the Friday night that we visited. We rocked up at 6.15pm and only juuust managed to procure the last three highstools at the back of the restaurant.

Golden Fields
 New England Lobster Roll $15ea
hot buttered bun, cold poached crayfish, watercress & Kewpie
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Here’s the much sought-after, die die must-have dish at the Fields. I’ve only heard glowing accounts about it. So it’s time to bring its flavours to accord. Fakegf, Koji and I ever so carefully halved the rolls to share amongst us. Some lucky bastard got the 4th piece. The two standout features of this dish were the crisp buttery bread that tasted amazingly rich, and the beautiful flavour of fresh crayfish. I thought they could’ve used something less rich than mayo, but yes, I had to concede that the roll tasted sensational. But we also thought for a rather small roll, it was quite steeply priced.
Golden Fields
Same lobster rolls eaten a year later, where I’d decided it’s prolly a touch over-hyped.
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I don’t know about you, but my dictionary tells me ‘Kewpie’ is a small, plump doll with a topknot. A little more research later revealed that Kewpie is also a popular brand of Japanese mayonnaise (Q.P.). *ding!*
Golden Fields
Fresh Sea Urchin $5ea
flat bread, crisp lardo, escabeche
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Some of these high-end menus half-intimidate and half-annoy me with words that I don’t understand. What’s an escabeche? Here, it’s poached seafood marinated in an acidic mixture Mediterranean-style. I have never, in my life, eaten sea urchin before, but Koji and Fakegf have in the past, and hated it. I got this single curiosity serve for myself to try.
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Mmmm… it was odd tasting… didn’t go. To my taste buds, the mushy textured urchin meat didn’t taste fresh. It smelt and tasted like the muddy, stagnant water that you’d find close to barnacle-riddled piers and jetties. Yuck. Fakegf had a taste and agreed with me, and suggested that maybe its the other ingreditns that, when combined, made it taste this odd. Definitely an acquired taste.
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Next time I try sea urchin, I’ll have it as sashimi in a good Japanese restaurant so that I know how fresh sea urchin really tastes like, free of dressings.
Golden Fields
Golden Fields
Twice-cooked Duck, Steamed Bread (3pc) $20
vinegar & plum sauce
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It looked like the duck was prepared confit-like first, and then deep fried on the outside. We were told to shred the duck and stuff it in the bun with a cucumber block and a touch of plum sauce. Then dip it in the Chinese vinegar before eating.
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This a truly a modern take on a traditional Hokkien dish, kong bak pao. I had an incredibly memorable serve of that, ironically, at a Teochew restaurant in Melaka. Core principle of this dish is, if the meat is succulent and fatty, and the steamed bun wonderfully soft, it’ll be good.
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While I still prefer the flavours of kong bak pao, this dish was excellent in its own right. The lovely homemade buns were spot-on soft, warm and fluffy. Wow. The duck was fork tender rich inside but deliciously crisp outside. In fact, the skin actually tasted like KFC and I have to admit that’s kinda “OMG YUM!!!” to me, even though I avoid eating KFC because of ethics. The tangy Chinkiang vinegar dip, accentuated with a dash of sesame oil, really helped cut through the fat. Only component Fakegf and I didn’t really like was the sweet plum sauce, and I personally thought a sprig of coriander would’ve been nice in the bun for this dish.
Golden Fields
There was more duck meat than buns. Wished they’d given us the option to buy more buns.
Golden Fields
Whole Roasted Flounder $32
lime, sorrel, burnt butter

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The words burnt butter used along with fish sounded too unusual and good to pass up. And we’re glad we ordered it, the flounder was very fresh and cooked perfectly. We were surprised how good it tasted when pendulum’ed with the unctuous flavour of butter and the piquancy of fresh lime segments.

Golden Fields
Golden Fields
Sugar snap peas, brocollini, jamon, pea shoots, chilli & mint $14

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My boss at work had many of the salads here and tells me they are all good. This one looked particularly interesting because of the use of jamon, chilli and mint. We weren’t disappointed.The crisp sweet sugar snap peas crunches so brightly in your mouth. Loved how well the flavours went together. Crunchy veggies in a mellow rice wine-based warm dressing, hint of fresh red chilli, jamon and a surprise zing of fresh mint. Amazing. Fakegf liked how the jamon mimicked the texture of dried scallops in Chinese cooking.

Golden Fields
Golden Fields
Golden Fields
Green tea ice-cream, pumpkin & liquorice $9

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Out of the list of desserts, this one looked the weirdest. I mean, green tea, with pumpkin… and liquorice?? Ewww! We ordered it as a culinary challenge, hoping that what comes out might utterly surprise us. Sadly, the dessert tasted as incongruous as we’d imagined. It also looked like a plop of pale green doggy poop, with a wig… lol.
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The green tea ice-cream was soft, light and almost mousse-like in texture, without much flavour of matcha. It was completely overwhelmed by the overlying cap of strong liquorice mousse, which also tasted too sweet. We couldn’t taste any pumpkin in the dessert, but assumed it’s incorporated within the liquorice wig.

Golden Fields
Peanut butter parfait, salted caramel & soft chocolate $10

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This dessert on the other hand was quite enjoyable. Peanut butter, salted caramel … can’t really go wrong with that, right? I liked how the parfait wasn’t dense and yet tasted so rich with peanut butteryness. Again, the dessert was on the sweeter side because of the surrounding sauces in it, but I enjoyed this dessert a lot more.
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Compared with Chin Chin, the Fields has a more elaborate and formal feel to the place, but with an incredibly noisy buzz. The flavours here are richer and heavier too. Off the top of my head, I’d say I prefer the lighter flavours and more relaxed ambience at Chin Chin. However, I’m also fascinated by the artful modernity behind the dishes at Golden Field. McConnell’s boldness in thinking up playful ingredient combinations borders on being ingenious. Quite simply said, something tells me I’ll want to come back again to sample more dishes. My mouth, sometimes, likes being teased. :)

I’ve also visited Andrew McConnell’s other ventures: Cutler & Co.Cumulus Inc. And to have a brief look at the other desserts at Golden Fields, read here.
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Golden Fields