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The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry: Lee Tran Lam quizzes chefs, critics, bar staff and other people from the world of food about their career highlights and lowlights, war stories and favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney.

Feb 8, 2022

The best dish in the world, according to chef David Chang, could be found at Golden Century – the Sydney institution that Billy Wong's family ran in Chinatown for more than three decades.

There was more to Golden Century than the XO pipis, though (despite Chang's major endorsement of the dish). The restaurant's fan base included shift workers taking advantage of the restaurant's famous 4am closing time, as well as massive stars like Rihanna and Lady Gaga, royalty from Tonga and Morocco, and even Chinese presidents who made special requests: Xi Jinping had his order sent straight to his Sydney hotel, while Hu Jintao had the signature XO pipis delivered to the Chinese Embassy in Canberra – 300km away from the restaurant itself.

Chefs such as Morgan McGlone and Dan Hong have been regular diners and Analiese Gregory called it a “dream” to drop by the kitchen on Munchies Chef’s Night Out.

Billy recalls how hard his parents worked to make the restaurant a success (his dad used to sleep in the car in between shifts) and also shares many amazing memories of growing up with Golden Century.

Golden Century's family of restaurants also includes The Century at The Star and its newer spin-off, XOPP at Darling Square, which we briefly cover as well. 

I recorded this episode in late 2020 and sadly, Golden Century has since closed its Chinatown location, but its spirit lives on at sister restaurant XOPP: some of the staff, menu items, and even its trademark seafood tanks can be found there. You can also get Golden Century finish-at-home meals via Providoor and you know what, it wouldn't surprise me if one day Golden Century did open in a new location. I'm sure everyone – shift workers, world leaders and chefs alike – hopes that might happen.

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