Golden Gate: Talented chef offers unique, tasty Asian dishes at longtime midtown eatery
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Restaurant Critic
Thursday, October 25, 2012
3/28/13 at 8:03 AM
Everything I had read or written myself about Golden Gate restaurant over the past three decades referred to the owner and head cook as Mary. She corrected that during a recent interview.
"It is Merry," she said, spelling out the name. What an appropriate name. I doubt anyone could carry the Merry moniker any better than the always merry and ebullient Merry Chang Wong.
That's not a bad reference to her food, either. Her traditional light Cantonese and spicy Mandarin styles of cooking stand out amid the waves of mammoth Chinese buffets that have hit the landscape over the past 10 years or so.
Four of us feasted on a variety of dishes during a recent dinner visit.
While making up our minds about entrees, we selected four spare ribs ($10.99), four egg rolls ($1.50 each) and crab rangoon (six pieces, $8.99) from the appetizer list.
The oversized egg rolls were filled with meat and veggies, and the large, triangle-shaped rangoon had a sweet filling of cheese and crab. Both were golden-colored and fried perfectly.
I have found ribs in the majority of Chinese places to be thin and tough, but the ribs at Golden Gate were long, meaty and tender. I gave them a thin layer of sweet-and-sour sauce, but it wasn't necessary.
For entrees we wound up with Peking beef ($9.99), sweet and sour pork ($8.99), shrimp with broccoli ($9.99), and chicken with snow peas ($11.99).
The Peking beef mixed with broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts, snow peas, carrots and onions was cooked in a spicy-hot sauce and had a big flavor.
Each of the other entrees was mellow and flavorful. They held generous portions of pork, shrimp and chicken, and the broccoli and snow peas were cooked through but still had a little crunch. Everyone needed a to-go box.
The far-ranging menu includes 16 appetizers, 13 combo dinners, 40 regular dinners, seven fried rice dishes and five soups.
Among the most popular of those items are the sweet and spicy General Tso's chicken, kung pao chicken or beef, and egg drop soup.
A buffet cart holding about 10 items is offered 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ($6.99) and 5-8 p.m. ($9.99). A happy-hour weekday special ($4.99) is offered 3-5 p.m. and includes chicken vegetable fried rice, a spring roll and sweet-and-sour pork, and egg rolls are 99 cents.
We chose hot tea over soft drinks and beer to go with our dinners.
Merry and her husband, a World War II veteran from Malaysia, and three boys came to Tulsa in 1978 after operating a restaurant in the Bronx for 12 years.
Merry's first job here was cooking in the cafeteria at St. Francis Hospital. After her husband died in 1982, Merry opened Golden Gate in 1983 to have a more flexible schedule to take care of her children. It has been in the same spot, just down the sidewalk from Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, ever since.
Merry married Malaysian native Brandon Wong, who runs the front of the house, in 1997.
The 28-seat dining room is simply decorated with oversized painted hand fans and large, round paper lanterns.
Original Print Headline: Merry meal
2620 S. Harvard Ave.
(on a scale of 0 to 4 stars)
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-
Friday, noon to 9 p.m.
General Tso's chicken (front) is a spicy mainstay on the Golden Gate menu, and the house special stir-fry (rear) features a bountiful portion of shrimp, sliced beef, broccoli, carrots and baby corn. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
Merry Chang Wong and husband Brandon Wong run Golden Gate. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World