Sorry, all I had with me this night was my phone so the photo is not exactly great. ;-(
When I was in high school and college Christmas afternoon was always spent with my friends going to the latest and greatest movie. Over the years I lost that tradition but every now and then I revive it for a year or two. In November I was talking to a friend who was not going to be spending Christmas with her family for the first time ever and I suggested we bring back my old tradition. She ended up with other plans but in the meantime a couple other friends decided to join in.
After seeing "Up in the Air", which was both funny and sad by turns, we made our way to the International District (ID) to partake in another Christmas tradition – Chinese food for Christmas dinner! I don’t know the real history behind Chinese restaurants being open on Christmas, although I can make a very good guess. Since they are the only restaurants open they are generally packed. In past years it’s been hard to get into many of the restaurants in the ID so this year I was prepared with a list of four in proximity to each other, in case we needed to try a few out.
Our first stop was Jade Garden and they estimated our wait at 15 minutes so we put our name on the list and waited. We ended up waiting closer to 30 minutes but I loved that the host kept stopping by and updating us on our status so we didn’t feel we’d been forgotten.
Once seated service was rather slow but you couldn’t really blame the servers who were working hard to keep the packed house happy. In fact, we saw more help coming in while we were at our table. They were doing everything they could do serve people as fast as possible. The kitchen at Jade Garden is small and the seating area is pretty large – not the best combination on a hectic night. They also did something I’ve never seen in a Chinese restaurant before. Instead of bringing our whole order out at once they actually brought our meal a dish at a time so that they could get something out to every table. I really liked that they had taken this thoughtful approach, even though I prefer getting all my food at once. Part of the fun of Chinese food is creating a kaleidoscope of flavors, colors and textures and combining them in different ways. But I thought they were very smart to keep everyone busy with some food on the table. They also apologized about a million times. That goes such a long way and I wish more places understood this very simple concept.
We ordered three dishes for the three of us and had plenty of leftovers, too.
The first dish to arrive was the Honey Walnut Shrimp. Gorgeous shrimp, a sweet sauce and the crunch of walnuts make this a winner. This is one dish, though, that I really like to eat along with something that is a little salty. I didn’t have that option this night but I enjoyed it none the less. Next they brought our Beef Chow Fun. The noodles in this dish were amazing. Soft and silky but with a little bite – the Italians would say "al dente" – I really could have eaten just a big bowl of the noodles on their own. Although then I would have missed out on the tender beef! Our final dish was Chicken with Black Bean and Peppers. I am not a fan of green bell peppers so I avoided those. There weren’t too many in the dish and the flavor of the chicken still came through. I would have liked a few more black beans but that was just a preference not an issue.
The only thing that would have made the meal better was if it had come out all at once so I could have made new combinations with all the flavors! I’ll just need to go back soon on a day that is not quite so busy so that I can have a more normal experience.
I applaud everyone at Green Jade for their customer service and thoughtfulness on that very busy Christmas day.
424 7th Ave S