Sunday, May 30, 2010

JR Bistro in Chinatown

Since Sister C was out for the night, the plan was to eat Chinese at Phoenix Inn. But when we got there, it was closed for renovations until June 2. This left us in a quandary as to where to eat, and eventually we decided upon JR Bistro beneath Ocean Seafood.

From all appearances, the interior of JR Bistro resembles a Hong Kong cafe, with a couple of big screen TVs on the walls. However the cuisine is typical of what you would find in most Chinatown restaurants. It took a while for the wait staff to take our order, and they looked undermanned but it could have been because it was a Sunday evening.

We ordered five dishes: mu shu pork, shrimp with glazed walnuts, calamari with garlic spicy salt, shredded pork with preserved vegetables, and house special chow mein.
5/30/10 JR Bistro
The mu shu pork came first, and the waitress was kind enough to assemble them for us. These were fairly good, without anything feeling out of place. Without an ample enough amount of hoisin sauce they can be a bit bland, but luckily the waitress left extra sauce on the table.
5/30/10 JR Bistro
Next up was the shrimp with glazed walnuts. Unfortunately there was a little too much mayonnaise on the shrimp, but not enough to obscure the naturally sweet flavors of the shrimp. The shrimp were plump, though, and there was a sizable amount. The walnuts could have been more glazed as well.
5/30/10 JR Bistro
The calamari with garlic spicy salt fared slightly better. The dish wasn't bad, but I'm not a fan of the tempura-style batter. Still, the squid was cooked just right, and the garlic spicy salt had a little more punch in the flavor department than similar dishes at other restaurants.
5/30/10 JR Bistro
I was very disappointed in the chow mein, which was bland. There also seemed to be too much starch in the gravy, which was particularly noticeable when I scooped a chow mein pancake into the take-out box.
5/30/10 JR Bistro
The surprise of the meal turned out to be the shredded pork with preserved vegetables. Out of all the dishes, this one seemed to have the most fully-realized identity. The textures were varied, with crunchy strips of bamboo shoot and wood ear mushroom mixed with tender pieces of pork and onions. The flavors were sharp and bold, unlike many of the other dishes which seemed sloppy and undefined.

Overall I would say that I was underwhelmed by the meal. I did see a number of dishes being eaten by other patrons that looked appetizing, though, so chances are I will be back to give JR Bistro another shot.

Some other notes on JR Bistro:
- They didn't serve me ketchup and mustard like some other places I know, so that's a plus.
- When the wait staff did get around to helping us, they were very friendly, which is quite a bit different from some of the other Chinese restaurants I've been to.

JR Bistro
750 N. Hill St. #F
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 620-0838

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