If you’re in search for tummy filling, reasonably priced, and above all tasty food in a welcoming place then Jen Café can hit that brief. The shop with a mint green front, with matching furnishings on the corner of Newport Place is unmissable. They serve hand cut noodles, bubble tea, sandwiches and dumplings that are made from scratch. You’ll know about this as a Chinese Auntie expertly pleats the buxom little things in the front corner of the restaurant for passerby’s to see. The ‘Beijing dumplings’, or “jiao zi” stuffed with pork and spring onions are flash boiled and will cost you a fiver. The same dumplings are pan fried, which are also known as ‘pot stickers’, they’re closely related to Japanese gyoza. Since you can get char siu pork and cha-cha-teng style snacks made with luncheon meat, you can call it a Hong Kong-Taiwanese mash up of sorts.
Number 73 was hot & spicy pork noodles £6. What we got was a plateful of pearly white, roughly cut noods with a dollop of nondescript thick brown sauce with enough viscosity to thud and stick against a wall if thrown. We were asked to mix it all together by our Auntie serving us before slurping. We did just that. I’d call it the school dinners of noodles if you were in Beijing.
Then came the char-siu pork in a narrow shouldered broth which had a good helping of mid-sized rice noodles. It’s not going to do any culinary cartwheels, but what you get is a gap filled for £6 of your finest.
Here the zero thrills continues with deeply comforting Bejing dumplings £5 filled with minced pork and Chinese chives. Pelt them with hot oil and chinkiang vinegar for extra tongue coating goodness.
The fried dumplings, or pot stickers £6 are more of the same minus the chives and they get a good toasting on the pan for a slightly browned crisp edge. Again be lavish with the black vinegar for maximum tongue therapy.
When did I go? Nov 2017
The damage: Expect to pay £10/15 per head
The good: Rudimental, yet freshly made food with wallet friendly pricing, it’s hard not to like, but come here for what they’re famous for, the dumplings made by Auntie in the window, you’ll thank me later.
The bad: Complaining at this price point kinda defeats the object.
Would I go again? Yes
Address: 4-8 Newport Pl, London WC2H 7JP