I expected Golden Sun to be a bit divey. It’s a big part of what made me seek out the Chinese restaurant tucked into an awkward corner space on a 28th Street strip mall. Chinese food is best served sketchy, and without a set of tracks to cross to the wrong side of, you have to try your luck in strip malls.
But I wasn’t totally prepared for the divalicious glory of the Golden Sun, which may be the least Boulder restaurant in Boulder.
For starters, it’s cheap. The lunch buffet measures in at a very thrifty $6.95. You get a bit of what you pay for in that the buffet has a smaller selection of items and some of them aren’t labeled — which makes for a fun tasting game — but those that are in the hot and cold cases are on par with your average Chinese buffet taste and qualitywise, despite their lower sticker price. Non-buffet lunch specials are between $6 and $7 across the board.
Then there’s the wholly incoherent decor, which included everything from my rickety chair to the front door being propped open with a child’s toy that appeared to be a hybrid of a big wheel and a Game Boy. The lack of theme that spread throughout the awkwardly shaped space made sure that Golden Sun’s feng was about as shui as a trainwreck, and its total lack of modern lines or enormous proclamations decrying GMOs, gluten and factory farms gave the impression of being outside the Boulder bubble.
Top it all off with the icy draft that wafted through the place on my visit and it makes for what many would consider a perfectly horrific dining experience. I see it otherwise.
There’s a flawed paradigm that eating out should be upscale and making dinner at home is for meals you just want to eat. But why? Not everyone has a nice kitchen to cook in or the ability to make a dozen different kinds of Chinese cuisine with the various side dishes and dipping sauces. Sometimes people are just on the go. And being able to eat rather than dine, and to do so without the scourge of chain fast food is certainly something worth valuing.
Golden Sun offers a higher level of quality than some similarly divey joints this reporter has been known to frequent, and it’s certainly better than mall/airport food court Chinese, but isn’t a good restaurant in the way the joints along Pearl Street are. It’s certainly not where you’d want to go on a date or take your parents when they’re in from out of town. But there’s much to be said for a cheap hole in the wall where you won’t see anyone you know or have to discuss what farm your carrots came from with the server. And then, after that non-discussion, there’s as much tapioca as you want. What more can a diner really ask for?
The bottom line is that despite its blatant antifoodieism, Golden Sun is the sort of dirty little secret that everyone should know.