Monday, 13 September 2010
Jade Garden, 15 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6PH
Having been to eat around Chinatown many times before, we’d actually never noticed this unassuming little place just on Wardour Street. It could be the excitement that fills our minds when we get to Misato (just next door to Jade Garden), or the bright lights of the Japanese cake-and-all-things-cute-and-little shop also next door to this place.
When our friends C&J suggested we go to Jade Garden for dim sum, it was kinda like one of those ‘Oh where did this shop come from’ type thing when we got there.
So, Jade Garden is a small-ish (one shop) and quite cosy little restaurant, furnished in a way that makes diners (or just me) feel comfortable and not at all like we’re dining in the middle of Chinatown. Being a typical Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, they do have quite a few tables chucked into a small space, but at least they don’t make you share your table with randoms.
To place your order of dim sum, you’re given a form with numbers, kinda like what you’d find in other Chinese restaurants (or in an exam) and you tick the items that you want based on a colourful, picture-filled menu.
I’m not entirely sure what the prices are this time because our friends ordered for us (we were taking a while with the whole parking thing) so by the time we got there, the food was kinda settling down happily on the table, just like us. So, this is the Pei Tan Sau Yuk Chuk (Century Egg with lean meat rice porridge) which Jade Garden does well. The rice porridge is smooth and thick, silky and flavourful. The meat is tender, and the century egg (though not really attention-seeking) gives a nice, subtle flavour to the dish.
The Inside-Out Deep Fried Tofu Stuffed with Fish – my interpretation of the dish, as you can tell. I don’t know the Chinese name for it, and certainly don’t know the English version of it, so this’ll have to do. If the name is not self-explanatory enough, it is basically tofu puffs turned inside out, stuffed with fish paste (tender and chewy goodness mmm) and then deep-fried. It’s crunchy when you first bite into it, but then when you get to the fish, it becomes slightly softer and salty, goes really well with the sweet and sour chilli sauce.
King Prawn Cheong Fun – a must-try in every restaurant, kinda like one of those benchmark type things. The one here is pretty good, with fresh, juicy, crunchy prawns wrapped in delicate, silky, smooth sheets of rice-flour noodles. Could do with a little more sauce over the noodles because they got kinda dry sitting there waiting to be devoured, but that could also party be down to our neglecting it a little when it first got there. Lesson to self – do not neglect your food.
The Deep Fried Squid – which is fried to perfection here in a tasty batter, not too greasy. It could be improved with slightly thicker squid though, because when you deep fry something, the best bit is biting into the batter and then finding thick, chewy squid inside. It just doesn’t cut it when the squid is a thin, wry, little ring of could-be-more-chewiness.
Crab meat parcel of something green (?) – clearly another well-thought-up made-up name by me. Loved the green skin (note – the green doesn’t actually taste of anything) but I really like chewy dim sum skins and this was particularly lovely. Fresh filling of crab and prawns added crunch and juice to the little parcels, fab.
Har gau (prawn dumplings) – another thing we order to see how the restaurant stacks up. It’s done well here. Firstly, the prawns are fresh, and fills the parcel perfectly. The skin is perfectly chewy, just thick enough, and shimmers with translucent glee just waiting for me to eat it. The first bite is chewy, and crunchy, and juicy, and so really good. The next few bites just get better.
Deep fried tofu sheets with fish mince paste – really, it tastes alot better than it sounds, partly because it’s a made up name by me, again. What it is is sheets of tofu (tofu exists in just so many forms …) wrapped around fish mince paste (chewy, fishy, tasty) and then deep fried. Dipped in what I guess is Lea & Perrins sauce, it’s a nice contrast of deep friedness and tangy, sour sauce.
Finally, to end the meal, something sweet. Hot Custard Bun – slightly different to the English version of custard, in that this is a little more buttery and eggy. When eaten hot (unlike what we did), the custard should be hot, gooey and creamy – so much so that you’d have to be careful while eating it as it’s similar to molten lava (OK fine, not similar, but a very small likeness).
Would I recommend this place? Yes, we’ve been there many times since, and while not the cheapest in Chinatown, or the biggest portion we’ve had, the quality is good and that more than makes up for the first two points.
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