Sunday, 31 January 2010

Beijing Dumplings @ Jen Café (Chinese), London

Jen Café is a Chinatown institution and has been on its corner site on Newport Place for as long as I can remember. It's very much a caff reminiscent of the cha chaan tengs of Hong Kong serving a wide choice of hot drinks and breakfast stuff like toasted sandwiches. Whilst the bulk of the menu consists of siu mei (Cantonese BBQ) served with a choice of rice and noodles, there's only one reason why you come here and that's for their hand-made jiaozi or Beijing dumplings.

These dumplings remind me of Shun Yi Fu in Beijing and you know they're hand-made as you can see the ladies making them in the shop window. I ordered the jianjiao or fried dumplings (£5/8 pcs) but you can also order boiled dumplings (£4.50/8 pcs). There was a bewildering choice of drinks but being a bit of an old git, I ordered a tankard of hot chrysanthemum tea (£1.20).

The dumplings were perfectly pan-fried with a nice char on the outside. As these are Northern Chinese dumplings, they're more rustic than Cantonese dim sum but what they lack in delicacy they make up for in taste. The filling of pork, spring onion, chives, and Chinese leaf was juicy and was complemented well by the traditional vinegar dip.

I liked these dumplings so much that I decided to take some uncooked ones home with me. These cost £4.50/8 pcs and I was told to boil them for 10 minutes. After cooking, I dressed these with soy, sesame oil, chilli oil, garlic, ginger, and spring onion. As you can see from the photo above, I have a great future in plating-up !

Verdict: Jen's handmade dumplings make for a great snack or to share as a side order with a one-plate meal.

Other Stuff: They also serve veggie versions of the dumplings as well as Fuqing fishballs which I understand are the same as these.

Jen Café on Urbanspoon


  1. Oooh! I didn't know you could buy uncooked ones. But to be honest they are really easy to make if you have the time, and they freeze really well too

  2. Yum these look amazing! Love that you can buy them uncooked as well to keep at home in the freezer for a tasty treat

  3. yuummmmmmmmmmm!! i made these last week and it didnt last long!!!! i love anything dim sim or dumplings...boiled or fried! u got my vote ! :)

    took me an hour and half to roll out made dough and then making it into circles and then filling them with pork and then enclosing them...hard work but hey worth at the end :)

  4. Lizzie - They are easy to make but I'm fat fingered and lazy so I prefer to buy mine in ! BTW - I loved your haggis dumpling recipe.

    GC - I've bought their take-out dumplings a couple of times but they've never made it as far as the freezer.....

    Ann - I really liked your dumpling recipe, adding in chopped water chestnuts was inspired.

  5. Likewise, I didn't know that I can get them uncooked. Will normally go for the (instant) noodles with char siew with a serving of those 'jiao zi'. The place is quite busy though, not a place to linger around.

    Have you tried getting those frozen raw dumplings from the nearby supermarts? I wonder how those measure up.

    C K

  6. It might be cheaper to make your own :) Make a big batch and freeze what you can't finish?

  7. LC - Welcome ! I've tried frozen dumplings and they're pretty poor. Let's put it this way, I'd rather make my own !

    3HT - It will be cheaper to make your own ! I occasionally make jiaozi from scratch although I cheat and use ready-made wrappers.

  8. Buying the uncooked dumplings are the same price as eating them boiled in the shop, crafty salesman. Sounds tempting to try the next time I'm walking around Chinatown without a set destination for a meal (unlikely though that is).

  9. WB - I must confess these dumplings were a quick snack inbetween meals !

  10. Gosh, what a gem! Never tried this place but will certainly visit now on the strength of your review. Thanks for that.

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  11. Went there in the week and the jiaozi were pretty good. Price has gone up slightly - about 4.95 now I think. The takeaway bun stall just opposite was OK too for a cheap snack - I tried a steamed pork bun...