The Golden Century team's new Darling Square restaurant is a homage to its famed pipis in XO dish.
It's been three decades since Sydney institution Golden Century opened its doors in Haymarket. The late-night Chinese restaurant is famed for its unbeatable midnight feasts and the queues of chefs, celebrities, hospo workers and everyday diners that line up to partake into them. And now, the group has opened a new one — XOPP by Golden Century — inside the brand new Exchange Building.
Those who have eaten at the original restaurant might recognised the name as a homage to its pipis in XO sauce, a dish that's so revered that even David Chang has called it "the best dish in the world". The new 160-seat restaurant is helmed by Billy Wong — son of original owners Eric and Linda — who has developed a more contemporary dining concept that he's hoping will speak to a new generation of casual diners. Most notably, there is a bar serving snacks and smaller dishes alongside cocktails — think XO mayo prawn rolls and chicken liver parfait served with Chinese doughnuts. Oh, and 250 wines.
Just as the vibe is different to Golden Century in Chinatown, so is the menu. Chinatown regulars will notice the addition of hiramasa kingfish with finger lime, and a southern rock lobster done in a messy, delicious typhoon shelter-style. Other modern additions include kale and brussels sprouts and a jasmine bubble tea panna cotta. But you can expect to see a few nods to the OG restaurant — including the pipis in XO, of course.
The impressive venue is located on the mezzanine level within Darling Square's striking new six-storey Exchange building designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The dining room makes use of the circular building with floor-to-ceiling windows that show the timber that wraps around the facade. Inside, it's all very sleek with black ceilings, leather banquettes patterned light fittings.
It joins the recently opened Maker's Dozen on the ground floor of the building, which includes a Tokyo-inspired milk bar from the Devon team, a new bar from craft beer specialists Bucket Boys and a Japanese pasta shop from Hamish Ingham and Rebecca Lines of Banksii and Kerby Craig of Ume. The building will also be the new home for Haymarket Library — that's set to open next month, on October 28.
The original Golden Century will remain open until 4am each morning as usual — it's even scored a fancy new upstairs 'wine bank' for private dining and events. Along with The Century, which opened at The Star in 2012, this will be the group's third restaurant.
Images: Steven Woodburn