Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Golden Unicorn
18 East Broadway, Chinatown, NY
212-941-0911
Review by Susu, MaceVindaloo, Diana, CandiGrrl, RocketScientist

This place shows up a lot on travel-recommended lists. Beware of those — they tend to feature places where non-Chinese are treated as they are used to in non-Chinese restaurants. One list even lauded its "almost-French service." Uh-oh ... to those of us who understand that Chinese service is perfunctory — almost rude — and fast fast fast, this is a bad sign.

Golden Unicorn also has one of those weird "Chinglish" names, a translation of some Chinese name or concept. Though along with the dragon, phoenix, and tortoise, the unicorn is featured as a good-omen animal in chinese mythology. Still the unicorn (and tortoise) are not normally names for restaurants, and assume that maybe this is pandering to the non-Chinese crowd.

The entrance looks like a very boring office building. Someone comes and figures out where you will sit, summons the elevator and whisks you up to one of two floors. The door open, and you're suddenly in a banquet hall, out of some sesqui-century era movie!

Too, the dim sum carts which circle the two stories of banquet hall style seating have pictures of the food on them, with the names of the dishes in English and Chinese. This weirded out the Chinese restaurant aficionados among our group, but the non-Chinese seemed relieved to be able to sort of know what they were eating. It may seem clever, but it is also pandering. It's true that many people in Chinatown do not speak English, but why come to Chinatown if you're going to insist that everything be like it is "at home"?

Frankly, a lot of the fun of Chinese food is its almost "Temple of Doom" aspects — not knowing, but TASTING, is the key experience. Even if you asked, would you know what a wood's ear is? Or a fish belly? How about a raining cloud? None of these is what you suppose.

As for the flavor, it seemed too watered down: flavorless yet greasy. It reminded us of airport or mall offerings. There is a reason the Chinese do not eat chicken potstickers, ever think of that? That's only something Americans do.

Maybe we got stuck in the "floor for non-worthies" ... this is the problem with having two floors. Are they served equally?

The place was uncrowded. No, that doesn't do justice — it was absolutely empty on a Saturday morning, dim sum prime time. Other restaurants are packed to the gills, with people waiting for a spot. That should tell you all you need to know about this place.


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