Goldfish Pacific Kitchen Dazzles, Might Impress
Every time I go to Goldfish Pacific Kitchen, I can’t help but think of the song from Chicago; “Give ’em the old razzle dazzle…”
Sitting beneath a ceiling throwing pink then blue colored light against a trellis of cut-out leaves, you feel somewhat in a fantasyland (or at least a fantasy restaurant). You’re greeted warmly by hostesses with gleaming smiles and rows of perfect teeth. You’re shown to your table and your order is taken in a swoosh of exceptionally good service. Your food arrives (first pink, then blue under the lights) and it looks like it should be in a magazine. No detail has gone unnoticed. Then you start to eat.
And…and the food is entirely underwhelming. This is not to say that it’s bad. It’s mediocre. It’s average. If everything else in the place wasn’t gleaming, the food might hold up, but with all of the senses so well taken care of one can’t help but expectation the food to be outstanding as well. Sadly, it’s not.
On my last visit I had the Arctic char in kaffir lime sauce with snow peas and carrots ($17 at lunch). It arrived looking (first pink, then blue) ready for Gourmet Magazine on a matte black plate, and the lime did make for a fairly tasty and interesting sauce, but somehow it still failed to impress. It had all the makings for a terrific dish, without any of the inspiration. And the fact that it was the latest in a series of uninspired dishes was what finally turned me on to Goldfish Pacific Kitchen. They’re putting all of their effort into the show.
Even the name is designed to distract! “Goldfish Pacific Kitchen” is like something that came out of a rock band name generator on the internet; that is to say, a string of words that don’t really mean anything but that will distract you long enough for them to slide a ho-hum fish dish under your nose.
I know I’m not the only person that feels this way, but I do seem to be in the minority. I’ve so far sampled the duck spring rolls with nuoc cham (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuoc_cham) and fresh mint ($13), wok-tossed squid with scallions and chilies ($9), the sablefish in miso-sake glaze ($27) and the 5 spice wok beef with sweet soy and lime ($15), among other things. All were very beautifully presented and nothing to shake a stick at, but also nothing that stands out in my memory either.
My coworkers love it and descend en masse whenever there is a celebratory lunch. My sister loves it. Furthermore, every time I walk by it I see people happily munching away and smiling, so I think my expectations may just be getting me in trouble again or that people want to be dazzled. That would certainly explain the amount of glitter twinkling around Yaletown.
And I must also say this about Goldfish, meals can get pricy if you start ordering side and a la carte dishes, but they always have a $10 Blue Plate Special on at lunch, they have a happy hour every weekday from 4 – 6 PM where lounge appetizers (all under $5) are served, and there is also a 3 course prix fixe dinner available for early-birds every day between 5 and 5:55 PM. So if you want to look fabulous and look at other people being fabulous also, it’s possible to do it at a relatively low price point. So they’re not trying to pull the wool over your eyes completely, just fill them up with stars a bit.
“Give ’em a show that’s so splendiferous…”
Goldfish Pacific Kitchen (http://goldfishkitchen.com/)
1118 Mainland Street, Vancouver