What were you as a child? Were you the kind who experienced gloopy Chinese food, like no other gloopy Chinese food? The most un-Chinese of foods? And were you the kind of child who loved it?
If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes” then Jimmy Chung’s just might be for you! (Now, don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about: every town in Ireland has at least one of these establishments. Ours was Wongs or – *shudder* – the North Ocean take away. The girlfriend’s was The Embassy.)
One of the latest restaurants belonging to the Scottish chain, Jimmy Chung’s, opened on Eden Quay, Dublin, about a year ago. Last night, the girlfriend and I paid our first visit after earlier spending a busy hour solving a tricky homicide cold-case in the Ambassador. Having worked up quite the appetite, the idea of an all-you-can-eat buffet for Eur17.90 sounded perfect, so we set off down O’Connell Street, avoiding gangs of yoofs, junkies and loud Spanish students.
When we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by a smiling maitre d’ who quickly showed us to a table for two near the buffet. Glancing around, we took in the open airy space which was three-quarters full. After ordering drinks from the full bar menu (one pint of Bulmers and a bottle of Tsing Tao beer), we took it in turns to visit the troughs.
Hungry as we were, we went all out and helped ourselves to starter, main course and dessert. The ladyfriend ventured up first, and returned beaming and triumphant, with a plate heaped full of all sorts of deep fried delights. I did likewise. The selection of starters is extensive, including chicken satay sticks, chicken balls, spare ribs, sesame chicken toast, wan ton, vegetarian spring rolls, crispy aromatic duck with all the trimmings.
For our mains, we sampled a little of everything. She had sweet and sour chicken, chicken satay, Cantonese style crispy duck, “special” (ahem) curry, topped off with lashings of egg-fried rice, prawn crackers, and that Chinese delicacy, chips – as only Irish Chinese take aways can do chips! I had pork in honey sauce, beef in black pepper sauce, Mongolian style lamb, with plenty of prawn crackers to mop up. These are only a small selection of what’s on offer, so a perusal of the menu is a must.
With just a teensy bit of room left in the tums, we considered the dessert options. Before our visit, I had heard of their ice-cream machine (you remember? From the ’80s? Wot produced 99 cones? It’s true!), so I promptly grabbed a bowl and bumped a young child out of the way to get to it. I – what’s the verb for this? – poured out (?) my ice-cream and slathered chocolate sauce on top, as did the misses but with raspberry sauce. So, the dessert was basic but good. There were, however, cakes and pineapple fritters on offer (*shudder*) but we were beginning to get that post-Christmas dinner feeling so had to admit defeat.
As we tucked in to the meal, I noticed that nary a Chinese customer were to be found in the premises. Jimmy Chung’s has a menu and style of food that is wholly catering towards typical Irish perceptions of Chinese food: the more gloop the better!
Bearing that in mind then, the food generally is high in taste, but in all likelihood low in nutritional value and authenticity. The secret ingredient in the “special” dishes could well be buckets of MSG; who is to say? Jimmy Chungs is not the place to find authentic Chinese cuisine (head to Parnell Street East for proper Chinese food at great prices), but if you’re an Irish ’80s kid looking for a good, inexpensive slap-up meal before heading out on the town, there is plenty to recommend.
While we were there, the staff were busy yet attentive, and always on hand for fresh plates and fresh drinks. Including two beers and one pint of Bulmers, our bill came to Eur44.50.
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