Kam Golden Inn
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Par Bob Keelaghan

A Family-Run Chinese Restaurant

The Golden Inn Restaurant is a Calgary Chinatown landmark, having been owned by the Lau family for nearly 40 years. The flood of 2013 could have ended it, but the family’s history and pride were too great to let it fade away. A fully flooded basement shut the restaurant down for 10 weeks, and without electricity, all the food stocked up for that summer’s Stampede-time clientele spoiled. The restaurant’s future looked bleak. All this happened as founders John and Kam Lau were considering selling the business and retiring.

“It’s been a true family restaurant,” says their son Raymond Lau. “My dad has been cooking in the kitchen since he opened it in 1977. All of our family members worked here at one time.” Raymond, a successful Internet marketer, along with his brothers Kelvin, the head chef for the National Beer Hall, and Vincent, a graphic designer, decided to invest in the family business. They re-opened with the idea that they could eventually pass it on to their own children.

It’s been a true family restaurant. My dad has been cooking in the kitchen since he opened it in 1977. All of our family members worked here at one time. - Raymond Lau, co-owner
Golden Inn Restaurant - Chinese Food, Dine In, Take Out
Late night diners consume Cantonese dishes.

Everyone Loves The Squid

Located at street level near the busy intersection of Second Avenue Southeast and Centre Street, The Golden Inn is well known as a late-night eatery, and its clientele is rabidly loyal. Open until 3 am most nights, it can be difficult to get a table on weekends when it is open to 4 am. Its late hours are certainly a draw, but the main reason for the restaurant’s popularity is its classic Cantonese menu. The tank of crab and lobster at the front door hint that seafood dishes are chef John Lau’s specialty.

His not-so-secret weapon is the salt-and-pepper squid, which is lightly battered and subtly spiced. The Lau brothers point out with clear delight that it is their No. 1 seller. “At Chinese restaurants, everyone always gets a lot of dishes and shares, but every so often you see a table of four guys and they just order four salt-and-pepper squids,” says Raymond with a laugh, adding it has been his own favourite since he was a kid.

Golden Inn Restaurant - Chinese Food, Dine In, Take Out
A really big three-dimensional picture of medieval China hangs in the dining room

The Taste of Things To Come

As the Lau brothers prepare to take over the Golden Inn from their parents, they want to put their own generational stamp on the menu while staying true to the family dishes that Golden Inn customers love. Kelvin, an accomplished chef in his own right, wants to introduce unique Chinese fusion dishes, citing such contemporary fare he has sampled in Vancouver, Toronto and New York.

First, however, he has to master his father’s style of cooking. “Every time I have a chance, I come down here and watch my dad cook. It’s a challenge. In culinary school, I learned about temperature control. Dad’s style is to keep the heat as high as possible.”

Once the sons’ cooking meets with their father’s approval, says Raymond, he’ll hand over the reigns, and the next generation of Laus will keep the Golden Inn going for years to come.

Golden Inn Restaurant - Chinese Food, Dine In, Take Out
The Golden Inn has been a Chinatown fixture since 1977
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