Prettyyyy sure this restaurant has been on my list for 2.5 – 3 years. And now that I’ve finally tried Golden Diner, I can say it’s a fusion experience that’s worth a visit. The restaurant takes diner staples and updates them with neighborhood influences. Since it sits at the crux between Chinatown and the LES, those influences are Asian and Jewish. It’s not necessarily something that should work – who messes with diner food? – but it does.
Located under the Manhattan Bridge, it’s close to plenty but still feels middle-of-nowhere. You walk underneath this industrial bridge and then all of a sudden you’re inside a space with Tiffany lamps, lace curtains, and chrome stools.
There were so many things on the menu I wanted to try so we overordered a bit but I still need to go back. Also, be warned that the portions are huge. We started by sharing two apps: the mushroom reuben quesadillas and Korean chicken wings. The quesadilla is vegetarian, featuring pastrami spiced portobellos, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing for dipping. The combo was unexpected and delicious – I didn’t miss the meat at all. I brought the leftovers home and very happily ate them for lunch the next day. The wings were probably the largest I’ve ever seen and with a sticky spicy sweet garlic gojuchang glaze that I really enjoyed. I also loved the pickled daikon cubes they served with them.
For the main, we split the most talked about item on the menu: the chicken katsu club. This club sandwich features katsu style breaded chicken cutlet, a mound of red cabbage slaw, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and special sauce. My beau thought it could use a bit less slaw, but I thought the overall execution was very good.
Like I said, there were a few other items I wanted to try but didn’t have any room. The egg and cheese sandwich includes a hash brown patty and some gorgeous soft scrambled eggs on a scallion milk bun. I also saw some pancakes come out of the kitchen that looked super fluffy. And both desserts (green tea coffee cake and Thai tea très leches) looked very good. Overall, Golden Diner has actually accomplished what they set out to do: updating the classic diner in a way that represents the surroundings. And just like any diner, it’s an epic hangover meal…but if you’re ready to drink again, the drink menu matches that of the food, meaning updated and awesome.