The Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant of Conshohocken, PA, would be the closest thing to the Philly region’s living embodiment of the sort of old-school Chinese restaurants that appear not to have changed since the 70s or 80s. But they are part of a disturbing trend of Chinese restaurants – at least in this area, but I would guess elsewhere as well – that have not reopened for dine-in service since Covid hit. They still offer takeout, but since discovering them online in the past year, I’ve wanted the full experience, with flaming PuPu Platter included. I gave out and decided that there was no point in waiting any longer. If they haven’t resumed full service yet, there is no guarantee they ever will. And my hankering to try their Chicken in Foil had been burning away at me long enough.
I’ve written about Foil – or Paper – wrapped chicken before. It’s a dish I loved and ate often in the days of yore (the 80s), but which is now virtually extinct in the Philly region. I know of one other place, in a northern suburb, that offers it. At one time, it was commonly offered as part of PuPu Platters, but I can’t remember the last time I saw that.
Golden Dragon is just a short detour from the route that I take to visit my father, and I had planned on visiting him today. So I decided to finally put an end to my Jones for this place by stopping to pick up a takeout order on my way home.
It sits in a typical suburban shopping center that is anchored by a supermarket, but the inside is big-time retro American-Chinese restaurant. While waiting just a couple minutes for my order, I could definitely envision myself at a table for four with a flaming PuPu Platter at center-stage. I still hope that happens some day, but the woman who brought my order out didn’t offer any promising words when I asked if they had plans to restart dine-in service.
I had asked for extra duck sauce and didn’t see any at all initially. But just as I was starting to lose my composure, my wife discovered that there was a mother-load of it in two of the small takeout containers generally used for steamed rice. This was also like stepping back in time for me. Bo Wah, the first Chinese restaurant to open in the suburban area where I grew up, used to similarly include big containers of duck sauce with takeout orders.
Other than the egg roll that came with it, I never got around to trying my Shrimp with Lobster Sauce combination platter, as I was too stuffed from the array of appetizers I started with. But the Shrimp dish does have the ground pork I look for as an indication of real, old-school Shrimp with Lobster Sauce. I’m looking forward to eating that tomorrow.
In addition to the egg roll portion of the combination platter and Chicken in Foil, I picked up an order of spare ribs. I love Chinese spare ribs and always have.
The egg roll was right on point, as were the ribs.
While I don’t recommend this meal to those of you on a health-conscious diet, I was in time-capsule heaven.
The Chicken in Foil was just as I remembered it. Both the flavor and texture were perfect. I believe this dish is cooked by placing the foil-wrapped-chicken into hot oil, so that foil is very greasy. But the chicken within is so soft and tasty.
I’ll eventually get around to trying the other suburban restaurant that still serves Chicken in Foil. But my itch has been satisfied, at least for a while. In the meantime, I’ll continue to hope that Golden Dragon and the other Chinese restaurants that have remained closed for dine-in service since Covid hit will reconsider. A PuPu Platter without the fire in the middle just isn’t the same.