Sunday, March 6th, 2005


I have a strong tendency to get into food ruts. When I love something and find a place that makes it well, I balk at trying it at a new place. Especially when I’m craving it. Zach and I were craving dim sum this morning, but decided to be adventurous and try something new, since we’re always eating at Sun Ya. I had heard good things about Jumbo on Rainier, so we went to check it out.

While pulling into the parking lot I noticed that it shared space with a furniture/wedding store. Please note that it’s a combined furniture and wedding gown store, not two separate stores. As we approached Jumbo, there was a sign directing us to the “main” entrance, which happened to be the furniture store, so I got to see the most gaudy furniture I’ve ever seen in my life. I felt like we had been transported to a Boca Raton retirement community. I was giddy because it was just so bizarre.

We walked into the restaurant and it was a cavernous space. As we were being led to our table, I almost crashed into a cart because I was trying to see what was being served across the room. It looked an awful lot like Fried Nothing.

Fried Nothing was my favorite dim sum item when I was a kid. When my grandma would take me for dim sum, she would order in Chinese, so I never knew what it was actually called. My brother and I dubbed it Fried Nothing because that’s basically what it was. I was trying to tell Zach what I saw, but all I could manage to do was point and gesture wildly because I was too thrilled to talk.

We were seated on the edge of the dance floor, just slightly to the left of the disco ball, but to the right of the fancy lighting system. While we waited for the carts to come we speculated on what the night life at Jumbo was like. I guessed scary.

We ate all the usual suspects: steamed hum bow, baked hum bow, ha gow, meatballs and eggplant with shrimp. I really wanted to love this place—mostly because it was so kooky, but I just couldn’t. The dim sum was average at best, with the exception of the sticky rice; it was the best sticky rice I’ve ever had, but it certainly didn’t warrant driving that far south or suffering through the other mediocre food.

We were getting full, but the Fried Nothing cart still hadn’t come. I refused to leave until we tried it, so we waited. And waited. I tracked the cart around the room, sighing with frustration when it looked like it was headed towards us, then (sigh) took a turn and went in the other direction. Finally the cart came. The Fried Nothing was served with jook, but I talked the woman into just giving us the Fried Nothing because I’m super picky about jook (I only like the stuff my family makes). I asked the waitress what it was called, so that I could finally request it at restaurants. She told me it was a Chinese Donut. Oh. I was disappointed that it wasn’t more exotic sounding, but I had to admit, that’s exactly what it was.

Imagine a long and skinny churro-shaped donut that’s not sweet at all, and a little greasy. On my first bite, I was disappointed. I wondered why I had been so enthralled with them when I was a kid. One my second bite, I changed my mind. It was Fried Nothing! Why wouldn’t a kid (or any sane adult) love it? We ended up eating the entire plate of donut (which was a lot) and each bite kept getting better. Just as we finished the platter, I saw someone coming out of the kitchen with a fresh batch of donuts. I was stuffed, but so tempted to order another plate to see how they taste when they’re hot (I’m guessing heavenly).

So overall, I was happy with our Jumbo experience, but only because I will now be able to order Fried Nothing at Sun Ya.

(I just found a great link on Foodgoat that covers the all important topic of Fried Dough Around the World. It’s the best site ever.)

Jumbo Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

12 Responses to “Jumbo”

  1. Donut fan says:

    The delicious Chinese donut is called “yiu tiao” in Mandarin and “yao ja guai” (literally fried devils) in Cantonese. They are also good wrapped in flat noodle.

  2. stef says:

    you should have heard mike trying to order it when he got me some roast duck to accompany my tjok :) – i told him yu tiao – he came up with something totally different and probably not fried. but then he proceeded to describe it’s length and how it was fried and goes good with tjok. glad you learned how to order the yao ja guai (my mum is cantonese so that’s what she called it)

  3. megwoo says:

    Fried Devils?!
    Thanks for the tip, Donut fan!

  4. megwoo says:

    Hey Stef,
    That’s really funny about Mike, although I have to say I didn’t do much better…

  5. Nicole says:

    Hi! I just moved to Seattle from Boston, where some dedicated foodies and I used to host international dinner nights. (My specialties were Japanese, Southeast Asian and French – lived in all those areas for a while).

    I was wondering if you knew of any similar groups like that here. I’m in West Seattle, and was just so pleased to find so many Seattle food lovers on tbe blog – so any information would be great! Thanks!!

  6. megwoo says:

    Hi Nicole,
    I’m actually not sure about the cooking groups. I was just asked to join one last month, but I think all the slots are full right now. I would suggest posting on the Seattle blogs to see if anyone is interested in starting one up. I’ll definitely keep my ears open and I’ll let you know if I hear of anything!

    P.S. Do you have a food blog? That’s a great way to meet food people. I’m amazed at how many new people I’ve met since starting my blog last October.

  7. jamie says:

    I know the other thing that my parents like to do is to have it with sweet or salty soybean milk.

  8. megwoo says:

    Hi Jamie,
    That sounds really good… or maybe even chocolate milk!

  9. Jamie says:

    Yeah, chocolate milk sounds good too. The other thing I forgot was with shao bing. Those flat breads with the sort of layers sometimes with the sweet lotus paste or sometimes the salty ones with loads of sesame seeds on top. Open them up and put the yiu tiao inside.

  10. megwoo says:

    That sounds good too, but what’s yiu tiao?

  11. Meg says:

    yiu tiao is the Mandarin name for the fried dough stuff. By the way, I think you can buy shao bing frozen at the Asian grocery store, though it’s obviously not good as fresh.

  12. megwoo says:

    Oh right! Okay, I’ll try that out next time. Thanks!

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