Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jo Jo's China Bistro


Jo Jo’s China Bistro
1732 West Prien Lake Road
Lake Charles, LA

7 days a week 10:30 AM to 10: 00 PM $1 to $13

It seems like fate that this venue and I should come together. The day the sign went up I was passing by so I swung in to see it up close. Keeping an eye out any time I was out that way, one day there seemed to be someone in it. There was and I got the information that opening day was the next day. I was there. I often stumble onto venues on their opening day. I usually go in just to check it out. I liked this place right off. Subtle colors and oriental touches on the walls with nothing too gaudy also not a buffet in sight and well-dressed staff. A look at the menu gave up the usual culprits but also ones I had not seen before. I started with hot tea. A habit I developed in my early days eating Chinese food. They bring a nice big pot enough for two.

They have over 30 lunch specials available on weekdays. I decided to go this route with one exception. You get choices on soup and rice. For my soup I went with Hot and Sour. It proved to be a perfect rendition with slightly thick pork broth with strips of pork and tofu with black mushrooms. It held a medium spice and a nice tang. Crispy Noodles (fried won ton strips) accompanied the soup. The deviation is that I also got an order of steamed dumplings (a favorite of mine). They possessed thick dough with seasoned meat inside. A soy and chile oil dipping sauce made it a delight. The entree, Beef with Black Pepper, turned out to be stir-fried beef strips, green pepper and onions in a dark black pepper sauce. I got steamed rice. You get two huge scoops at lunch. It was tender and flavorful

I returned Saturday with friends and some new acquaintances I opted for Egg Drop soup. The almost fluorescent broth with the flags of egg proved taster than it looked. Edamame (steamed soybean pods) and Pot Stickers were bought for the table. The soybeans were OK and the pot stickers just a pan seared and steamed version of the dumplings. The first Belgium lady ordered the House Special Lo Mein. It contained a bit of every protein tossed with fettuccine pasta in soy based sauce. My bite of it was delicious. The second Belgium lady got Hunan Shrimp. It consisted of a stir fry of shrimp, broccoli, carrot, water chestnut, mushroom, Napa cabbage and bell pepper in a light and spicy red sauce. A shrimp offered to me was perfect. My artist friend went with Spicy Scallop. They flash fried the scallops in batter then tossed them with a spicy red sauce. They sat on a bed of steamed broccoli. I received a scallop that was sweet, succulent, crispy and spicy. My particular friend opted for Kung Pao Beef. Stir-fried beef strips with celery and carrot but curiously no peanuts. The piece of beef offered me proved succulent and flavorful. When I encounter this dish, Salt Pepper Shrimp, at a Chinese restaurant I always try it. Forewarned it was cooked in shell I still went with it. I received a dozen large shrimp coated with corn starch then wok fried and tossed with a mixture of salt, black pepper and green onions. Served on Sai Fun (fried mung bean noodles) the shell proved edible (I am Cajun, I eat shrimp tails). Peeling them would not only be messy but would leave most the flavor behind. I enjoyed it but it not something I would recommend for most people.

Last foray was a lunch date with part of my eating group. Won Ton soup was ordered. It proved classic with a clear chicken broth with dumplings. My baking friend went with General Tso Chicken. Pretty ordinary except for the slices of jalapeno floating in the sauce. My food board friend got the Almond Chicken. A stir-fry with coated chicken pieces and vegetable with almonds on top. My sister’s Snow Pea Chicken (not coated) contained lots of vegetables and snow peas. All the tidbits that came my way tasted wonderful. I went a different route. I started with a large bowl of soup (Sizzling Rice) and supplemented with appetizers, an impromptu dim sum. Except for the rice that did not sizzle it proved to be a clear broth soup with an assortment of meats and seafood cooked perfectly. The Shrimp Roll was fried rice paper wrapped around some tasty shrimp with a sweet sour dipping sauce, delicious. Then came the clunker. The BBQ Ribs were too big and undercooked with a very peculiar tasting sauce, not for me.

All said and done this place is a keeper. Excellent professional service with dishes cooked a little different than most Chinese places in town. I highly recommend it with one caveat. They do not serve alcohol

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