New Kid in Two Bridges: Golden Diner

Adding to the wave of classic diners with a modern twist is Golden Diner, which opened in September (with a soft open last March) in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge. It is a rare treat, and I am not the only one who knows it: there’s a line at weekday lunch times. (And if you want a real foodie review, you can read it at Eater, but you can also just take my word for it, stop reading, and head over there.)

The idea is standard diner fare but with a local Asian influence and a pedigree — chef Sam Yoo comes from David Chang’s Michelin-starred Momofuku Ko. He’s also an actual local guy: lives in Soho, raised in Little Neck, went to Stuy, and since it is my alma mater as well, I have to mention he’s a graduate of Middlebury College, where he began his career. “I started cooking at the local McDonald’s to have a better understanding of how such a huge conglomerate is able to streamline their product and maintain consistency,” Yoo said. Safe to say he’s gone a long way up the literal food chain since then.

“I’ve lived and worked in the neighborhood for over 10 years and felt the neighborhood needed a high quality diner,” said Yoo. Yup.

So you’ll find the (not-always-on-the-menu-and-totally-worth-the-trip-for-this-alone) green tea coffee cake, Chinatown egg & cheese sando (with a hashbrown patty built in on a sesame scallion milk bun, way better than a hardroll any day — and I’m from Long Island), the bibimbap bowl with barley and white miso vinaigrette (the dressing makes it). You get the idea. It’s all exceptional, and generous. Yoo said he loves cooking pasta. “We try to put out some interesting noodle dishes during dinner and one of my favorites was the Black Bean Vongole.”

I have to add that the staff was great — the perfect combo of attentive, polite without being unctuous, and leave-you-alone.

The decor is well executed in the retro style without going overboard — it looks like it’s been there for a while (in a good way) — and you can reserve the whole space for party. Invite me.

Golden Diner
123 Madison St.
Sunday, Tuesday, Wesnesday: 10a to 10p
Thursday – Saturday: 10a to 11p
Closed Mondays
Delivery and takeout, order online, same hours


1 Comment

  1. Was there on a Sat or Sun for brunch this Fall… it was a relatively short wait (they texted us when they had seats available – we sat at the counter where we chatted with Chef Yoo). LOVED the Chicken Katsu Club (and ditto the Chinatown Sando). Staff was pleasant and understated. Prices very reasonable for this quality and creativity. Also, I believe the artwork is from locals.

    Looking forward to trying them for dinner once restaurants reopen, as they and many other places will need our support.