How Jumbo got its name I have no idea. The restaurant appeared a few years ago -we tried it - the food seemed only fair and that was about it. With all the good to excellent places surrounding it, a fair restaurant in Chinatown isn't going to make the cut. Over time we noticed that Jumbo was often packed with Chinese faces - so we tried it again on Chinese New Year -this time with kids.
We had our borrowed identical twin, five-year-old girls along for the fun of watching the dragons and fireworks displays of the New Year celebration. They love chicken fingers and many Chinese eateries have these as an appetizer - so a plate of tasty chicken fingers with plum sauce made them happy - and we got a bit of all our more serious food into them as our meal progressed. They love chopsticks -- as drumsticks - but are learning the skill of getting chunks of food into their mouths with these implements. Its all part of a Boston kid's education :- )
Seafood is the name of the game at Jumbo. As you enter you pass by a stack of those tanks of sea creatures slated for death. In almost every seafood restaurant these tanks are covered with a green slime that the Chinese appear to value but which would make a PETA member cringe. Our twins were curious about death so a steamed fresh fish dish was in order. Served with the head and tail such a delectable offering makes the 10 minute trip from tank to dish a direct lesson in the ways of chowhounding :- ) Where else can you have a once vital sea creature appear on a plate a few minutes later --staring up at you with clouded eyes? And then you eat it.
The Jumbo special dinner for two made sense - we started with a large bowl of seafood soup - a pretty good version. Then a large oval plate of mixed, stir-fried seafood arrived. This was mostly squid. Usually the squid in Chinese restaurants is overcooked and rubbery. Jumbo did better with this - but not as good as the Golden Palace -for example. The squid was semi-tough. The kids loved the pieces of small corn in this dish -which also had snow peas and small amounts of shrimp, scallops and swim bladder. It was fairly good.
The next offering was the formerly swimming fish -steamed with a soy sauce broth and julienne scallions, yellow chives with ginger. That was quite good. A huge bowl of white rice came to our table with a nicely presented plate of large shrimp coated with what Jumbo calls a "Champagne sauce". The sauce seemed to be a mayonnaise like flavored paste surro8nding the flavorful shrimp. We liked this best of all. It is hard to get shrimp that taste like shrimp should - anywhere. The shrimp also were surrounded with broccoli. The kids liked the shrimp, too.
This was our meal - a decent sampling of what Jumbo offers for $27.95.
Looking at the regular menu I see some interesting appetizers involving jellyfish. There are several soups like shredded duck meat with fish maws and chives. Jumbo "Classic Specialties" have a lot of sauced dishes -wine sauce, garlic sauce, Grand Marnier sauce, etc. The Dried Abalone dish needs to be ordered 3 days in advance. Jumbo does a sautéed sliced frog, a Filet Mignon, Peking Duck, Seafood Delight in a Taro Nest --- and plenty of other fancy choices. They have live crabs prepared in several ways. They do tank lobsters in four or five styles. There are ample beef, chicken and pork offerings - plus veggies and lots of noodle dishes. Most of their 30 luncheon specials are $5.25.
Jumbo attracts a largely Asian clientele in numbers that suggest it is appreciated. We liked our late lunch and had plenty to take home with us. The girls had a ball and will not soon forget their lesson in fireworks, dragons and the life and death of fishes :- )