First the bad news: Captain J’s, the only restaurant in the Triangle (to my knowledge) where devotees of the Chinese delicacy xiaolongbao (aka XLB or soup dumplings) could get their fix has closed. Seems the restaurant was never able to overcome the identity problem created by a huge international hodgepodge of a buffet that prevented many from discovering the authentic Shanghainese and Taiwanese menu that was its real strength. The restaurant’s name — which, let’s face it, doesn’t exactly shout “Chinese restaurant” — probably didn’t help.
Now for the good news: The restaurant’s owners, James (“Captain J”) Chao and his wife, Lisa Huang, have opened Golden Palace at that address. The new name should go a long way toward reducing confusion, but it isn’t just window dressing. The changes signals an entirely new concept centered around what may well be the area’s largest authentic Cantonese menu. The list runs to more than 150 items, from steamed whole fish to Wuxi spare ribs to congee with minced pork and preserved egg. Variations on the ho fun noodle theme alone account for eight listings, and hot pots for another eight.
The owners have given the building a makeover, too, inside and out. Gone are the buffet tables and the multicultural hodgepodge of a decor, and in their place is a traditional Chinese setting with tables spaced to allow dim sum carts to make their rounds on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. On weekdays, dim sum can be ordered from the menu until 3:30 p.m.
Golden Palace (4420 Capital Blvd., Raleigh; 919-900-7665) is open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. About the only thing it has in common with its predecessor is that it’s closed on Tuesdays.