Restaurant Review

Jacky’s Cafe: Spring Garden’s little secret


Shrimp congee and deep fried bread are both items on the Saturday Chinese lunch menu (Photo: Amy Crofts)

I would have never noticed Jacky's Cafe if the smell of spring rolls hadn't distracted me on my way to the drugstore. This small Chinese diner hidden at the back of the professional building on Spring Garden Road and Robie Street, is often overlooked because of its location and limited advertising.

My dining companion and I arrived before the Saturday lunch rush at 12:30 p.m., at which time the restaurant's ten tables became filled. What we immediately noticed was the large proportion of Chinese diners, which is always a good sign for a Chinese restaurant.

Service was prompt and we were impressed with the complimentary mugs of jasmine tea. I opted to order shrimp congee ($5.75) off the Saturday menu that features traditional Chinese breakfast and lunch items.

Congee is a thin rice porridge popular as a breakfast dish in Southeast Asia. My congee was nicely seasoned and boasted five good-sized shrimp. Although light in ingredients, water, rice and shrimp, the dish was hearty and comforting. Just like a bowl of chicken noodle soup on a cold winter's day. My serving was accompanied with a couple of pieces of deep fried bread and chopped spring onion as garnish.

Deep fried bread, also known as yau ja gwai in Cantonese, is a popular accompaniment to congee because of its crunchy texture. I ordered a plate full for only $2.

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The Hunan chicken, served with a bowl of rice, was sweet and mildly spicy (Photo: Amy Crofts)

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Jacky's Cafe is nestled at the back of the professional centre on Spring Garden Road

History of deep fried bread

Traditionally, two pieces of dough joined in the middle, are fried together. The two pieces are representative of the Chinese government official and his wife that plotted to kill the famous Chinese scholar Yue Fei during the Song Dynasty. Every time the snack is made, it ensures the couple is ‘oil fried’ or reprimanded for the ‘rest of eternity’.

My dining companion ordered the Hunan chicken ($7.15), a sweet and mildly spicy chicken dish with baby corn, onions, carrots, mushrooms and snap peas. Although the rice was a bit soft for his taste, he said the vegetables were cooked just right.

Jacky's seemed to cater to a wide range of people that morning - from couples sharing a plate of sticky rice, students slurping up soup noodles and lone diners enjoying their toast and coffee with the morning paper.

Considering Jean's Chinese Restaurant, a very popular Chinese take-out especially among students is right across the street, I would say Jacky's is an admirable contender. Although you won't find combination plates such as egg rolls with sweet and sour chicken balls at Jacky's, they still have Canadian-Chinese favourites such as Kung Po chicken, in addition to more traditional fare. My dining companion not only found the smaller menu less daunting than Jean's, but he also appreciated the breakfast menu as well.

It's a shame more people aren't aware of what Jacky's has to offer. Only a 10-minute walk from Dalhousie and King's, Jacky's is a great off-campus lunch option.

Both my dining companion and I found the restaurant's atmosphere cozy, the food tasty and the price point very affordable. We left happy and satisfied. We even perused the menu for our next visit, I'll be ordering the beef stew noodle soup.



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