Har Gau


Sunday, 23 November 2008

Jen Cafe (first review), 4 Newport Place, London WC2H 7JP

If you're undecided about what to have for dinner, Chinatown is probably not somewhere you'd want to be. Every restaurant seems to be full, the menus have the same dishes at similar prices, and from their display windows, you'd easily come to the conclusion that roast ducks and chickens were the latest feature from Ikea.

How would you find a good restaurant among all those brightly-lit shops?

1. It should not have the words 'All you can eat' on the front display window
2. It shouldn't be empty (no restaurant is ever empty in Chinatown)
3. It shouldn't have 'chop suey' on the menu (it's like seeing 'chips' on a French menu)
Note: What is chop suey, exactly? Does anyone actually know?
4. It shouldn't have lots of people walking out from it, saying 'I've had better at McDonald's'
and, most importantly
5. It shouldn't have a 'Hygiene Hazard' notice from the local health authority inspectors

It also helps to know people who know people who recommend you which restaurants to go to.

Sometimes, you find a good one by chance, and the pride you feel is almost equivalent to if you'd open the restaurant yourself.

One such place is Jen Cafe in Chinatown. It's a small little green shop located at the bit in Chinatown where there is a fork in the road, and usually in the window, there is a lady making dumplings.

I'm not sure what made us want to try this place the first time we did. It could be something to do with the fact that you had to share your table with other diners, or perhaps it was the dumpling making in the window, but anyhow, we tried it out, and have been back to Jen Cafe almost weekly since.

The waitresses try to allocate diners to a table, but usually, if there are 2 of you, you'd probably have to share a table with another group.

When I went in last week, the prices seemed to have gone up, but the menu (laminated, printed on both sides) was reassuringly folded around the edges and looking as tattered as ever, so unless they printed new ones and made it look reassuringly like it did before, no, the prices have not increased.

Each table has these 4 bottles - vinegar, soy sauce, chilli oil and either salt or sugar.

The menu has almost equal numbers of cafe-style food and main meals. The ones I've not tried are toasts (Hong Kong style), noodles with luncheon meat and egg (about £5), and fish ball noodles in sauce (£5).

The main highlights of this place though, are the dumplings. There are fried dumplings, boiled dumplings and vegetarian dumplings (£5 per portion for all 3 types). I've tried both the fried and boiled dumplings, and I prefer the fried ones. They are similar to gyozas, and you also dip them in vinegar, without the shredded ginger.

The 'siu yuk fan' here is another selected item from the menu. From what we've seen, consistency is not great though, as the quality of the meat varies. Most times, it's good, so it's worth a try. The sauce that comes with the rice is lovely.

The spicy pork noodle is my favourite. Slightly spicy, slightly beany and very nice minced pork on top of hand-made chewy noodles for £5 makes this a must-order each time we're at Jen Cafe.

Jen Café on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

outside shots of what the place looks like. thats the first important aspect of selecting where to eat, sometimes ha

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Locations of visitors to this page