We hadn’t eaten any Chinese food for dinner since New Year’s Eve. What’s more, we hadn’t eaten at Golden Dragon in Martell for many years. So, it was past time to pick up dinner there, which we did on February 4. (Our visit was also timely because the Lunar New Year comes this Friday.)

After I put in my order for a Mandarin Dinner for two people on the Golden Dragon website, I was a bit surprised to find that you couldn’t pay for your meal online as with most other restaurant websites. The only other restaurant that didn’t offer online payment was Panda House, another Chinese restaurant in Martell.

So, my mother had to come with me to Golden Dragon to pay for our dinner. After I submitted the order, the website said our meal would be ready in about 15 minutes. We arrived at the restaurant a little over 20 minutes later. As we entered, we noticed the restaurant is very well maintained and brightly decorated.

We also noticed there were also two couples eating inside the restaurant and another person sitting up front waiting for his meal. They weren’t wearing masks. The woman who came to the front register to greet us was the only person in the restaurant we could see wearing a mask. As someone with pre-existing conditions, and with my mother being a senior citizen, we were both uncomfortable knowing the restaurant was flouting health regulations. (It also made me better appreciate county restaurants that follow the rules.)

After my mother paid for our dinner, the woman told us that our food would not be ready for another 20 minutes and invited us to sit down inside the restaurant. We walked outside. I suggested that we go to the nearby Safeway gas station to fill up the car while we waited.

Golden Dragon cheese wontons and egg rolls

Big Box Meal

Upon our return about 10 minutes later, we entered the restaurant to find our meal in plastic bags within a medium-sized cardboard box sitting on a nearby table. The woman at the front register told us that she went outside to tell us that our food was ready, but we weren’t there. I explained that we fueled up our car, and as we left, she laughed and thanked us for our business.

Once we returned home and started unpacking our dinner, we found three large Styrofoam boxes. One box contained almond chicken with assorted vegetables, sweet and sour pork with vegetables, and a large amount of pork fried rice.

A smaller Styrofoam box contained two egg rolls and two wontons with some cabbage as a garnish. A large, lidded Styrofoam cup contained wonton soup, and wonton sauce came in a small, lidded plastic cup. A small plastic bag with three fortune cookies and packets of soy sauce packets filled out the box.

Plenty for Days

We were pleasantly surprised to find the wontons were filled with cheese, which is something we haven’t had at any other Chinese restaurant in the county we’ve eaten at so far. But the egg rolls were the same as at other Chinese restaurants. That is, they were tasty and crispy. The wonton soup was a disappointment with watery broth, some cabbage, and bits of carrots.

Golden Dragon egg drop soup

The rice had plenty of fried pork pieces, bits of egg, and scallion slices, and the pork provided the flavor. The almond chicken included large chunks of sauteed chicken with no gristle, as well as plenty of skinless almonds. You also get plenty of vegetables: carrots, zucchini, celery, and onions. I appreciated the large slices of crispy vegetables, and they along with the chicken were tossed in a savory soy sauce.

Like the egg rolls, the sweet and sour pork was as we have come to expect from any Chinese restaurant. The sweet and sour sauce had the right balance. The pork breading was crispy and so were the vegetables.

The Verdict

Our dinner checked all our boxes for a dinner with Chinese food. The appetizers were good. Each of the main dishes had large chunks of meat, the pork and vegetables were crispy, and there was enough food to last us for three meals. And our meals were just as good two nights after we ate our meal. (We’ll eat the last of the food for dinner tomorrow.)

So, we got a lot of value for our money as we paid a little over $34 for our dinner, which so far is the most we’ve paid at any Chinese restaurant in the county.

Yet we bring out a flashing yellow light in part because the soup was bland. You can’t pay for your meal online. What’s more, if you’re concerned about your susceptibility to COVID-19, then you may want to avoid Golden Dragon until health conditions improve to your liking.

Want to Try Them?

Golden Dragon is in the Amador Shopping Plaza in Martell next to Foothill Appliance. They are open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and they serve lunch and dinner. You can order online on their website, but you need to pay and pick up your food at the restaurant. If you have questions or prefer to order by phone, call Golden Dragon at 209-223-1476.

Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.