Risky Business

Jinja makes a stab at CityPlace

I liked it. If I happened to be wandering around CityPlace after a movie with 20 bucks burning a hole in my pocket, I'd drop back in for a bowl of chicken udon noodles ($9.95) or a glass noodle togarashi tuna salad with seaweed ($10.25) — Jinja is open until midnight on weekends, expanding our late-night options by a hair. The Vietnamese crispy chicken spring rolls we sampled ($6.25) were tasty and filling, though they had none of the popping flavors or ethereal lightness of authentic Vietnamese cuisine — they were more like Chinese egg rolls with nuac cham. Everything tends to run together in a vague approximation of "Asia" — there's kung pao chicken served "Thai style" ($14.95) or the Vietnamese "shaking beef" we had ($17.95) of wok-seared beef tenderloin with wilted spinach, caramelized onions, and vegetable fried rice. It came out hot, carried in the competent arms of a pleasant and cheerful server; it tasted good; it was cheap and filling — and no doubt the 20-somethings hanging at the bar and lounging at the tables thought so too.

The same was true of our Szechuan salmon ($15.95). If the fish itself was a shade on the dry side and the chili sauce draping the snow peas and red peppers — although hot, hot, hot! — lacked much depth or complexity, a hungry girl couldn't complain. The plate came with a couple of Chinese sweet steamed bean buns, long ago my default snack of choice, and I still love them.

I can't say much for our dessert — molten chocolate cake with a strange, jellylike texture at the center ($4.95), but we liked the "Vietnamese coffee ice cream" that came with it. On second thought, I should have ordered the coconut mango tapioca pudding ($4.95).

Joe Rocco

Details

700 S. Rosemary Ave. Open for lunch and dinner Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. till 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday till midnight. Call 561-296-7373.
Closed Location

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Can Jinja make it? I'm rooting for the place — so far, it's fighting the good fight. If it keeps serving decent food at low prices with this level of hospitality, it might just outwit the CityPlace curse.

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