One of the things that struck us when we moved to Goulburn was just how many Chinese restaurants there are.
In the 1970s, Australia had an influx of Vietnamese refugees. Vietnam had a lot of French influence, so lots of them opened bakeries and patisseries (yummo).
Many opened restaurants. Vietnamese food was a bit spicy for Australian tastes at the time, so mostly they offered “Chinese”: mostly Lemon Chicken, Beef with Black Bean, Sweet and Sour Pork, and Mongolian Lamb, all with fried rice. They did go beyond that, but those dishes would have been 80% of the sales.
Goulburn, lost in the 1970s as I’ve said before, has Chinese restaurants everywhere, dating from that time, and over time we have sampled many of them.
The worst was the one in Market Street, next to the Goulburn Club. Then one day we were forced to eat there again, and the food was spectacular — under new management. So it’s perhaps our favourite. Their Salt & Pepper Squid is stunning, and they do great things with aubergines too.
We’ve been introduced to another Chinese restaurant recently, as our friend Jan’s son is now working there as an apprentice chef. They have very fine food too — a bit spicier, more actual Vietnamese influence. They do a thriving trade. For me, several of their dishes are a little too sweet, so on balance I prefer Market Street. Mostly we’ve gone with friends with Aussie tastes — so I must get back to try something more adventurous.
When we came to Goulburn, there was one (very good) Thai restaurant. Now there are three, as well as great pub Thai food at the Exchange Hotel (go there just for their Mussaman beef curry) and lately the noodle house at our end of town has reopened and called itself Thai (not convinced, though they do a fine stir-fry).
Otherwise, there is always the Astor Hotel, which used to do fancy international synthesis pub food which was great value for money. They went off their game for a while, but we went there as a goodbye dinner for our Irish wwoofers, and they were pretty damn good. The same mob own the Tattersall’s hotel over the road, which does a great $10 cook-it-yourself rump steak on Tuesday nights.
We used to enjoy the Infuze restaurant in the middle of town, for gourmet pizzas and some fancier fare. They were wildly busy, but have closed — rumour has it that the building owners (the Paragon Cafe, who have the best cakes) weren’t enjoying the competition. There is now an Indian restaurant there, which we haven’t had an opportunity to check out as yet.
Goulburn seems to have acquired a much more interesting restaurant vibe in the last three years!