Restaurant Review #113: Jin Jiang Seafood Restaurant, West LA (now closed)

Jin Jiang Seafood Restaurant has been around for at least 10 years, from what I could tell from the old reviews posted on the wall and the decor. It's a large restaurant on the second story of a classic west LA strip mall, and it looked to be completely empty at 8pm on a Sunday. The well-spaced, large tables are covered with pink tablecloths and sea green napkins.

I came in for takeout. The whole process was incredibly simple and quick. Read menu. Order food. In 10 minutes or less, take steaming hot containers of food out to my car. Go home and eat. I realize that things should always work this way, but sometimes they don't.

Despite the name, there are plenty of non-seafood dishes to order. Had I been in the mood, I might have ordered the lemon garlic scallops or the kung pao scallops. I ordered kung pao beef, orange chicken, and general Tao's chicken (alternately known as general Tsao's or sometimes even general Joe's), as well as steamed rice, egg rolls, and hot and sour soup with chicken.

The kung pao beef tasted good, but the meat was strangely pale in color, and there were a couple of really pungent, utterly foul tasting black things in the dish (were they supposed to be there?). The orange chicken was quite tough, and I didn't eat much of it even though I was starving. The general Tao's chicken fared a bit better--it wasn't as tough, but well, it was still on the chewy side. By the way, you probably won't want to order both of those dishes at once, since both are deep fried and coated in a sticky sweet sauce. They seem almost identical to me, except that one tastes more like sweet and sour sauce and one tastes more like orange.

I really liked the hot and sour soup, though putting ground chicken in it was weird and kind of unpleasant. The egg rolls were the small, thin kind that I think of as being spring rolls (does anyone still make the thick-skinned kind? Is that a regional thing? Were they, in fact, spring rolls, but misleadingly labeled as eggrolls on the menu?). They were fine, though I prefer a nice thick chewy eggroll. They came with a pleasantly spicy mustard sauce (hot like wasabi) and a thin, radioactive red sweet and sour sauce.

I didn't take photos because it's hard to photograph takeout and, well, you know what Chinese food looks like already. Also, I was so hungry that I was actually starting to feel ill (I had spent 9 hours in the car with mostly candy bars for sustenance).

Overall, I wasn't too impressed with the food. It's better than Pick up Stix or California Wok, but not nearly as good as Joie Luck Kitchen, Mao's Kitchen, or Little Hong Kong Cafe. When a place has been around for that long, you expect quality. The portions were generous, and the prices were reasonable, but who cares about all that when the food isn't up to snuff? And why do they use styrofoam when they could use those paperboard containers that were made for Chinese food?

Given the restaurant's name, maybe the quality lies mainly in the seafood dishes, but now I'm afraid to try them.

Jin Jiang Seafood Restaurant
11057 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
11am-10pm daily

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