On Monday I drove my mother to Kam’s but after she saw the low prices for lunch specials a few doors down, she wanted to try Jade Garden instead. Between 11am and 2:30pm daily, you have your pick of 20 different rice plates for $4.95, including soup. An additional 18 selections of lunch combos are priced from $4.75 to $5.25 including soup, egg roll and steamed rice. For kids, a students special box lunch of fried rice, noodles, and fried boneless chicken plus a soda is $3.50. Also promoted outside was a three-for-$18.95 including soup for eat-in. There’s also a slightly expanded three-for to-go only menu that includes rice instead of soup for $17.50, and free delivery over $15 between 5pm and 9pm.
Given the low prices, the modern black and steel decor and all white tableware were a surprise when we stepped inside. Likewise the marble and onyx we’d later discover in the rest room. Not very busy at noon hour, most of the customers appeared to be Chinese contractors and construction workers tucking into rice plates or sharing three-for’s around the table.
Service was on the slow side to take our order (and bring the bill), but soon we had a tureen of soup. The complimentary “old fire” soup included stew meat, many bones, dried bok choy, and carrots, and was well-skimmed. This made for a very flavorful broth and did not need the bit of MSG I think I detected.
I tried the Curry Beef Tendon Rice Plate, $4.95. The soft lengths of tendon were simmered in a mild yellow curry sauce that tasted pretty much like straight-up Madras curry powder. While not the most complex example, it was done well and neither harsh nor gritty. A few chunks of beef plate meat attached to chewy fascia as well as crunchy red and green bell peppers plus juicy squares of sautéed onion were part of the assemblage and serve over a giant pile of white rice. Quite nice, especially getting the proper doneness on the different cuts of slow-cooked meats and the contrast with the crisp, barely cooked veggies, and fresher tasting than most versions.
For Mom, a big plate of House Special Dry Chow Fun for $5.95. The thinness of the medium-width rice noodles gave them a silky mouthfeel in addition to being chewy. The components included exactly two shelled shrimp, one scallop, and seven calamari tubes supplemented with char siu, skinless slivers of chicken, fat slabs of black mushroom, bean sprouts, and scallions. All tasty.
A closer look at the chow fun revealed fancy knife work on the flower-cut squid, batons of green onion cut to identical lengths, bean sprouts plucked of the root threads leaving just the "silver", and light charring on the rice noodles. This deftness with a knife, careful prep, and minimum of oil (just a fine sheen left on the plate) shared more in common with the more highly finessed $14 per dish noodles at fancy dim sum palaces than with offerings at pedestrian neighborhood places found at this price point.
Though we only tried two dishes, I have a good feeling about Jade Palace. It seems to aspire to be more than meets the eye and the kitchen might have the chops to pull it off. Amidst the lunch specials, the menu also includes Buddha Jumps over the Wall, listed as shark fin, sea cucumber, abalone, fish maw for $160.
Offering Shun Tak style cooking, here’s the menu of house specialties painted on the wall mirror:
Most of those Shun Tak dishes are translated into English on the “country style” menu.
What else have ‘hounds tried here?
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Shun Tak at Gourmet Village in Millbrae
Shunde House Special Fish Salad at Bow Hon
More about Shun Tak cooking:
850 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108
3608 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121
465 Broadway, Millbrae, CA 94030