Fantastic fresh food, served fast

WHEN we walked into Jimmy’s Place, in Dickson’s “little Chinatown”, my heart sank. The restaurant was packed, packed, packed and, having never visited before, I really, really, really wanted to give it a go.

A very busy woman behind the counter gave us a big grin and I found myself grovelling and asking for what seemed the impossible – a table for three. Little did I know that getting a seat at Jimmy’s is never a problem. You might need to walk through part of the kitchen to get to the large “secret” room at the back, but you will be seated.

The décor is not a feast for the eyes, but no one dining there cares. This popular Chinese restaurant, which has been on Woolley Street for a thousand years, is about fresh food, served fast. Correction: fantastic fresh food, served fast.

Speaking of a thousand years, give the spinach with the millennium egg – from the menu’s vegetable and bean curd section – a go. The thought of it might make some shudder, especially those convinced the eggs are that old. But relax… they’re more 100 days old.

Recipes vary but involve covering eggs (normally duck) with tea, garden lime, wood ashes and salt and burying them in a shallow hole for at least a few months.

The yolk transforms into a dark-greenish colour and the white into a dark brownish gel. The texture is soft and smooth and the egg doesn’t taste as strong as it looks. Some find it overwhelming, but we’d happily order it again.

This is one of many lesser-known, regional exotic dishes available at Jimmy’s, including some from the provincial specialty section ($17.30 to just under $20). The bone marrow dish is popular, as is the full-flavoured, duck-feet range (stir fried, created in a hotpot, served with sea cucumber and so on).

For those who don’t want to go that distance, there are many “more familiar” dishes, including the Sang-tung chicken ($17.80). Ours was super tangy, high on taste and the chicken tender.

Chefs who have created exceptional sang-tung chicken hold the recipes close to their chests. It’s a dish that is highly personal for diners and, while this was delicious, I’ve had better in Canberra.

Seafood is a star performer ($18.30 to $39.80) with abalone dishes making a grand appearance. You can even get abalone whole with oyster sauce. Our deep-fried prawns with spiced salt and chilli ($19.80) deserved a round of applause. The plump prawns were tender on the inside, the coating crispy and the seasoning beautiful.

Jimmy’s has a reasonably sized take away menu although, understandably, some exotic dishes aren’t available. The place is licensed, although the selection somewhat limited. BYO is available.

Jimmy’s Place, 13-15 Woolley Street, Dickson. Call 6248 8188.

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