Jun Ming Restaurant, Twickenham
For a restaurant away from the main throws of Church and York Street in Twickenham (where a fair whack of the decent eateries reside) I am always intrigued when I see a good portion of folk dining at a restaurant off the beaten track. For this reason Jun Ming had been on my radar a while and when I finally got the chance to check it out, I did. Jun Ming Is a relaxed spacious restaurant with welcoming staff and when we walked in, no booking, the waitress offered us more than one seating arrangement which was quite nice. The restaurant itself is a mix of Chinese and Thai food. They offer a buffet style meal for around £20 and the usual a la carte. We opted for the usual menu with a generic Malborough Sauvignon Blanc (not my favourite but Chic Geek insisted) The ambience is cosy with a relaxed yet lively atmosphere - folk really do seem to enjoy it here.We were given run-of-the-mill prawn crackers, with a surprisingly pleasant magic sweet/sour red sauce, so good that I developed an infatuation with it throughout the meal. I chose the soft shell crab to start while the chic geek picked fried dumplings. There is an intriguing dish 'Bang Bang Chicken' that conjures up images of a smoky bar room sleazy bar snack. The crab had a pleasant salt and pepper coating with finely diced spring onion and chilli, to be honest I couldn't really get to the heart of the crab meat as mostly it was over powered by the coating, so it was nothing too spectacular but enjoyable nonetheless. The dumplings unfortunately were more like loosely flitted pouches so when we bit into them, the filling unceremoniously fell straight out onto the plate. This happens sometimes when the filling ingredients (usually vegetable) haven't been pre-cooked so they shrink. The texture of the dumpling itself was good and they served a healthy portion of 6 dumplings. The sauce accompanying the dumplings was not too apetising but we had the magic red sauce... ahhh, it makes everything better. So for the mains I had to get the closest thing to Peking Duck. Jun Ming have an Aromatic Duck. A few years ago we travelled to Beijing where our generous hosts took us to a private dining room in one of the cities most revered restaurants. We were served a banquet meal. From what I recall, there were around 10 dishes. Of them was shark fin soup (interesting texture), birds nest (delicious) and of course Peking duck (complete with authentic certificate). It was amazing. Funnily enough, we also tried Peking Duck at our hotel restaurant, and as it turns out, we liked the hotel one better!
|Feast of Crsipy Duck, Prawns and Veges|
Traditionally Peking duck is served sliced into 120 pieces with flat cornflour pancakes, spring onions or shallots, cucumber or celery and a sweet plum sauce. On this occasion the aromatic duck was severed & shredded at the table by the staff. We had also ordered a dish of the sizzling sechuan prawns with rice.The duck was dry and stringy in texture but it did have plenty of flavour and the skin was perfectly crispy. While not like the Peking duck we had had in Beijing it had its own unique spices that worked just as well. Once shredded in a flurry of spoon and fork madness by our waiter, it's from this point that you make your own duck meat kind of spring roll. The duck, greens and sauce all go into your flat pancake, fold the sides together then roll. See pic! It may not look like much but it is deceptively delicious. Despite the duck being dry as a bone there was so much flavour from the crispy skin, you get the perfect balance of texture, sweetness and saltiness. It had major noms. I would actually tend not to do what we did and opt for a beer to go with this dish. The wine (floral) clashed too much with favours and beer is a stable match for all the flavours. The sizzling prawns were good enough but by far the enjoyable dish was definitely the duck. The desserts are just a selection of pre-made order board styled sweets, if I'm honest - they're pretty rubbish. The room had lots of buzz with people enjoying their food and their drink.If you don't mind, or perhaps even enjoy, the slightly cheese ball nuances (80's music, neon lit bar and glittering ceiling) with decent food, less than perfect execution and lets be honest, its not Michelin and its not fine dining but they give people what they want. Jun Ming seem to have everything for great 'session' dining - it has atmosphere, decent service and incredibly tasty food. Nothing more nothing less.££'s