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Little shop, huge menu

Silver Lake's Golden Cafe looks unassuming but offers more than 100 dishes, many of which break away from the typical Chinese fare.

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By Anna Poole / Herald Restaurant Critic
Published:
EVERETT - The Golden Cafe in the Silver Lake area resembles many other family-owned teriyaki, Chinese or Thai restaurants. It's in a strip mall. And it's small (30 chairs.) The differences with Golden Cafe are an extensive menu for such a little eatery.




10430 19th Ave. SE, Suite 1, Everett; ;425-337-6767
Specialty: Chinese
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; Dinner 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Price range: inexpensive
Liquor: none
Smoking: not permitted
Vegetarian: ample selections
Reservations: not available
Disabled accessibility: easy access
Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa


At the beginning of the dinner hour on a recent Friday night, my friend and I were the only customers in the dining area. The others were getting takeout, but we were later joined by a duo of single mothers with hungry children.
The children checked out the fish tank just inside the door. That's about all the interior decorating that's been done, unless you count the potted plants and Asian-style curtains that separate the dining room from the restroom area. Next to the cash register, a whiteboard perches on part of the counter. The night we visited it listed six lunch specials ($4.95) in addition to the 26 selections ($4.95 to $5.95) on the menu.
The dinner menu offers 119 choices in the appetizer, soup and main dish categories plus four dinner combinations. Our very attentive server gave us extra time to look at all the choices.
My dinner companion and his co-workers recommended the crispy beef with vegetables, Szechwan beef or chicken in hot garlic sauce, General Tso's chicken plus the cashew or almond chicken ($8.50) each. They all sounded good but what caught my attention were the outside-the-traditional selections.
For example, there's the pepper-salted squid or house crispy duck appetizers ($4.75 each), lamb with thin noodle soup ($10.95), spinach tofu with black cod ($11.95) or pickled cabbage with pork and dry bean curd ($7.50) entrees.
My dinner companion wanted to stay with his favorites. I wanted to skate outside the norm. With all the menu choices and our individual wishes, we didn't order until our server made a third trip to our table.
We began with one of his favorites: barbecued pork ($4.75). This appetizer was a hearty serving of 12 slices of cold Chinese-style barbecued pork served over shredded cabbage and with sides of Chinese hot mustard, plum sauce and sesame seeds. It was very good and it took a couple of slices before I lit my sinuses with the hot mustard.
For our main dishes, my friend decided on the sizzling chicken platter ($9.95) from the "chef special" category of the menu. I ordered the steamed black cod with house special sauce ($11.95). With these choices, our server changed our order to a dinner combo for $2 and added an appetizer plate and cups of soup. We chose the hot and sour soup, which was an excellent decision. This soup stock is a little richer and has more mushrooms and bean curd strips than at other places. It also comes in a larger cup.
Did I mention serving sizes at the beginning? They're a little larger at Golden Cafe.
Our appetizer plate included deep-fried wontons, egg rolls that were filled with crispy veggies and more barbecued pork. We ate all the wontons and egg rolls while commenting on how tasty they were. The extra barbecued pork went home in a box for later.
My friend's chicken platter did sizzle. It had a few more spices than usual, but it reminded us of yet another plate of teriyaki chicken.
On the other hand, my steamed black cod was not your usual and predictable dish from a corner take-out place. It was perfectly steamed in a light-brown sauce and topped with julienne scallion strips. I shared it with my friend, who described it as "flavorful and not ordinary. It tasted like well-cooked fish is supposed to taste."
I don't know how the owners of Golden Cafe do it, but this little eatery has big-restaurant taste.
Herald restaurant reviewers accept no invitations to review, but readers' suggestions are always welcome. Reviewers arrive unannounced, and The Herald pays their tabs.
Contact Anna Poole at features@heraldnet.com.

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