Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Front room, please: Jade Asian Restaurant

When dining, where you're seated can sometimes make all the difference. I don't mean getting the bad table by the bathroom or the kitchen or a draft. I'm talking about where the location of your seat actually makes a difference in what food options are available to you: and in the case of dim sum at Jade Asian Restaurant, this was crucial, the difference between a good meal and a mediocre meal.
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I'd heard a lot about Jade Asian, especially from JL and LB at FoodMayhem, who had visited several times both for dim sum and banquet meals and who even named the place as one of their picks for top restaurants in 2008 worth their price. So I was surprised when the dim sum carts came around and then after a while just fell flat. Sure, what we got was okay‚ such as the bacon-wrapped shrimp, spare ribs, and fried stuffed tofu above. But the fried smelt was too oily and heavy with breading, and the standards like cheung fun and har gao weren't better than anything else in the neighborhood.
I suspect the difference was that our group of eight had been led to one of the back rooms for our meal. Here, dishes arrived after cooling down or didn't arrive at all; many of the items I saw while passing tables walking in just never showed up. Often, instead of a full cart coming to our room, only a pared-down selection of the more popular dishes were brought around on trays. The plate of rice noodle rolls above that came around toward the end was pretty good, but I wished it had come earlier and I wished that we had had more to choose from before it arrived. I mean—doesn't that first picture look just a little bit sad and empty?
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Also, I had come looking forward to sampling some of Jade Asian's more unusual offerings, such as their open-faced and custard-filled dumplings, but it was only toward the very end that one of those in that category appeared. Fortunately, it was worth the wait: above are flaky pastries filled with durian, that spiky, potentially lethal (if they fall on you) fruit with the sweet, custard-like pulp and horrendous outward stink. I couldn't tell if the filling was straight durian or durian blended with something else, but the interior was a smooth, sweet paste with all of the funk and flavor of that King of Fruits but none of its notorious odor. Paired with a crisp shell—which was admittedly a bit too oily—it was a fine creation.

Though overall I wasn't too impressed with Jade Asian, consistent glowing reviews from other friends mean I'm open to a second try. Next time I'll just make sure I'm seated in the main dining room.


  1. I'm sorry to hear you had a mediocre experience at Jade Asian. That's one restaurant that's pretty consistently good across the board. Heck, even their bathrooms are clean! Definitely try and sit in the middle and go with a smaller crowd to get the better seats. Or go around 11am to get a better choice of sets. If I'm presented with a subpar table, I usually ask for another one. They're pretty nice about it.

  2. Yeah, I should have learned from my experience of being seated in a back room at Golden Unicorn for dim sum: same thing. Sitting in the main room is gonna be my rule for dim sum for now on.