Jen Cafe

The dumpling-making station (a.k.a. where the magic happens)
The dumpling-making station (a.k.a. where the magic happens)

This place was recommended to me by my Mandarin teacher around a decade ago when I was taking Mandarin evening classes at university. My Mandarin never improved as I never did the homework but I’m really glad I found out about this little gem as it’s now become one of my go-to snack destinations when I’m feeling peckish.

When you enter, someone will cram you in next to your fellow diners and encourage you to eat up and pay up as quickly as you can in the classic Chinatown way, so it’s not really a good spot for a romantic date, but if you’re after something quick and delicious, it’ll hit the spot. The other menu items are a bit hit and miss, so I tend to just stick to dumplings to be on the safe side. 

My advice would be to order a portion of Beijing dumplings (which are fried) and a portion of steamed dumplings, which are the same things cooked in different ways as far as I can tell. One portion of either isn’t normally enough to fill me up so I usually order one portion of each just for myself. 

There are little bottles of soy sauce and soy sauce mixed with vinegar on every table and a jar of chilli oil. The chilli oil’s not too spicy so I tend to mix quite a lot into my little dipping dish with some soy sauce and vinegar. Freshly cooked dumplings dipped in soy sauce, vinegar and chilli oil are a pretty amazing combination that is pretty hard to beat. That said, my girlfriend found the pastry a little too thick for her liking, but I love the way they make it. Try it and let me know what you think!

Beijing (fried) dumplings
Beijing (fried) dumplings
Steamed dumplings
Steamed dumplings
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