Take oriental restaurant Jinja Asian Kitchen, for example…
On an errand in Business Bay, and equipped with our Entertainer apps on the smartphone, Jinja popped up on the search for places to take in an early evening meal.
Jinja is located just inside one of the main entrances at Bay Avenue Mall, which serves Executive Towers, a jawline of high-rises that runs parallel with Sheikh Zayed Road. While the retail centre itself isn’t going to give other malls sleepless nights, it does boast a handful of feeding options that are worth checking out.
Décor and pricing at Jinja is fitting for the setting, but the food that flows from their stoves hits the standard of many a five star hotel franchise.
Seated by a staff member in a Bob’s Fish & Chips t-shirt – it turns out the owners of Jinja also have the adjourning outlet, serving up said English staple – it swiftly became apparent there were few limitations on this menu.
The absence of an alcohol licence is no hindrance to a drinks list that includes Rose Lemonade, a Cucumber Punch, Lychee Swing, an Orient Express of ginger syrup, lime juice and fresh lemon topped with coke, and a Coco Mood – banana and apple juice blended with cinnamon and coconut.
Sup on those while pondering a broad starters selection that puts regular favourites such as Japanese Edamame beans and Vietnamese Spring Rolls alongside Crispy Congee Lamb, Thord Man Pla – spicy Thai fishcakes with a hint of kafir lime - and ‘Chef’s recommendation’ Buddha’s Delight; a mix of wok fried mock ham, baby corn, mushrooms and water chestnuts tossed in ginger, garlic, spring onion and dried red chili. Word has it, you can’t go far off the mark with Crispy Duck in its tangy honey sauce, either.
The mains list is extensive and thorough, crisscrossing South East Asia to embrace a variety of styles, from Black Cod Miso, Penang Phed (duck curry with vegetables and lime leaves) and Spicy Fish with Sambal to Mock Peking Duck (again, not wanting to annex those vegetarians).
We plumped for a couple more ‘recommended’ dishes, not least as they sounded intriguing.
The only issue with ordering the Beef Sweet Pumpkin & Black Pepper Sauce and Manchurian Vegetable Balls, however, was knowing when to admit we’d eaten enough for comfort. Both plates were as moreish as they were zingy and intensely flavoured.
The former is a glorious Singaporean match of tender wok-fried beef in a sauce that is sweet and zesty, the pumpkin offset by the black pepper.
While that is a canny re-working of an old favourite, those vegetable balls are a nifty China-inspired special of Jinja’s kitchen. Golf ball-sized spheres of blended veg are deep-fried and arrive in a hot and spicy sauce that competes with everything else on the table without drowning out other dishes.
The same could be said for the Malaysian-leaning Prawns with Chili Sauce; the paste of shrimp and sweet chili conspired with asparagus to look and taste good.
A generous helping of steamed Jasmine Rice played referee, soaking up all those gorgeous sauces without interfering with the balance.
It seemed a shame to shun the largely Thai-orientated desserts – a homemade Mango Cheesecake, Sticky Rice with Sweet Mango & Coconut Milk and Tab Tim Krob (rose-flavoured coconut milk with water chestnuts and crushed ice) appealed, but belt loops were already being tested. And, it is a certainty to say, this restaurant will be getting a repeat visit.
Jinja Asian Kitchen is one of those places you find if you allow yourself to wander and somewhere you can not only feed well but feed on a budget.
FIND Jinja Asian Kitchen at G63-G65 Executive Towers, Bay Avenue, Business Bay
Contact 04 441 7905 or visit www.jinja.ae
JINJA is an Entertainer-featured merchant. Find three buy one, get one free main course offers in the Dubai 2016 book and app. For more, go to www.theentertainerme.com