Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Returning from a trip to The Other Side, Matt and Cat were on the hunt for a quick take-out to eat at home. Right...

Returning from a trip to The Other Side, Matt and Cat were on the hunt for a quick take-out to eat at home. Right under their noses was Jade Garden, the Chinese takeaway in East Cowes that everyone is obliged to pass when leaving the Red Funnel car ferry. It seemed rude not to stop, so your reviewers pulled up to see if Jade Garden was any good.

Jade Garden, East Cowes

Matt and Cat had heard from trend-setters in East Cowes that the Jade Garden was the place to go for Chinese. It’s a classic small urban takeaway, although its kitchen seemed to go back a long way. M & C, accompanied by junior reviewer Bill, perused what proved to be a standard Chinese menu, and if the date on the front (2005) is correct, some of the longest-held prices on the Island too. Cat was surprised and interested by one section which promised fillet steak dishes – although on enquiry the jolly chap behind the counter had to confess that they’d stopped serving it ‘ages ago’ – perhaps fillet steak was too rich a dish for East Cowes to handle.

Before long the trio had selected what turned out to be an echo of their favourite order from the Hong Kong Express. Cat chose chicken chow mein, Matt had crispy fried shredded beef, and Bill went for sweet and sour pork Hong Kong style. A bag of prawn crackers and a side-order of mixed veg rounded the meal off, and in a trice, the hot bundle was back on board the car with the hungry voyagers, and swiftly transferred to Ryde where it was decanted onto plates for immediate consumption.

chicken chow mein

Pleasingly, it was all piping hot, despite a fairly long journey for a take-out as these things go. It was also supplied in very generous portions, which pleased Matt greatly. The egg-fried rice, in particular, was more than adequate. If you are not starving then M & C recommend one between two; a satisfyingly economical arrangement.

Matt and Cat’s bill
Prawn crackers £1.80
2 x egg fried rice £4.40
Chow mein £4.50
Sweet & sour pork £5.20
Crispy beef £5.20
Mixed veg £2.70
Total: £23.80
crispy fried shredded beef

So, how did the food compare to Matt and Cat’s local Chinese, the Hong Kong Express? A mixed verdict there. Cat found her chow mein to be enjoyable with plenty of strips of chicken. However, compared to the light, seared HKE version, it was a bit samey with no spring onion to vary its brown hue. The Cat prefers skinnier noodles than the coarser grade from Jade Garden but, if it’s carbohydrate that you need, you won’t go wrong with a generous pile of chow mein from the East Cowes takeaway.

Bill also was not entirely delighted, and found his sweet and sour pork a little chewy. Maybe this was a result of it spending an extra 20 minutes in the car. The accompanying mixed veg was a disappointment – grey-looking and sodden with a thick gloop, the veg looked more like boiled than fried.

Matt, however, had definitely pulled out the plum in this meal. He was delighted with a rendering of the classic crispy beef which avoided the rather dry and occasionally stringy texture that sometimes characterises this dish. Jade Garden served the beef with a splendid chilli sauce which, along with some fried scallions and onions, gave it moistness and a real tangy kick.

So Jade Garden didn’t do too badly. Mixed verdict on the food, but all was edible, and it certainly has good prices, very big portions and a convenient location. If you’re in East Cowes it’s probably worth a go – but if you’re not, it isn’t quite worth going to Monkey Town just for this.

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  • kit

    12th April 2016 #1 Author

    Ahh… so ‘exhibit A’ is a newspaper article that uses the term ‘Monkey Town’. How does this make what you said right? It actually says that East Cowes is often the butt of people’s jokes and called that. Black people, disabled people and gay people are often called things and are the ‘butt of people’s jokes’. Does that make it right? Of course not. You should be ashamed of yourselves… but you’ve become too arrogant and egotistical to admit you were totally out of order.


  • da yw wyth

    8th November 2012 #2 Author

    it does make a “difference”!


  • Jan Fran

    7th November 2012 #3 Author

    ooooh da yw wyth you old pedant you….


  • da yw wyth

    6th November 2012 #4 Author

    Erm…. exhibit A uses quotation marks, the review doesn’t….


  • Cat

    6th November 2012 #5 Author

    Exhibit A.


  • JanFran

    3rd November 2012 #6 Author

    Thanks Yair for clearing up the mystery for me. As a ‘North Islander’ I welcome the explanation. Whilst the expression may be in common parlance (let’s face it, we all have somewhere local that is referred to in disparaging terms) I don’t think it has any place on this fine website. I read this website to feel connected to a place I love apart from reading the great reviews etc so for me it all adds to the rich tapestry. If this is the first ‘slip up’ that Matt and Cat have made in the years of running this website then that’s pretty good going.


  • yair

    2nd November 2012 #7 Author

    Fat into the fire … here goes

    I used to live there and it does have its saving graces. I now live on another part of The Island and others, me included are just as disparaging about this place.

    “Monkey Town” not worth catching the chain ferry for. Unless you happen to live there, work there, want to escape from The Island, visit Osborne House, or have a wander along the seafront, for, like the residents of Portsmouth staring at Gosport, the poor Cowes folk have to look at East Cowes across the water. Whereas the the residents of Gosport and East Cowes enjoy the better views.

    There, I’ve probably upset someone now.


  • Sean M

    2nd November 2012 #8 Author

    My dad lived most of his life in East Cowes he called it monkeytown sometimes as a bit of a joke. I thought it was just him but perhaps it isn’t. I don’t think he meant any harm by it. Perhaps its an older generation thing that we have forgotten these days.


  • Pitstop

    2nd November 2012 #9 Author

    I have just read the comments regarding the Jade Garden Chinese takeaway in East Cowes, however I was shocked to read the comment about “Monkey Town” and find this most insulting for the East Cowes residents, if I was one I would boycott this website.



    31st October 2012 #10 Author

    This is becoming like the Barker, Corbett and Cleese sketch. I look up to him because he comes from Bembridge, whereas I from Seaview look down on him because he comes from East Cowes. We all look down on those from Pan estate!


  • Georgie

    31st October 2012 #11 Author

    We think it’s a Cowes thing. There are constant sneers about both East and West Cowes. If a poster calls Matt and Cat’s reviews into question, they are accused of being “peevish” or “uptight”. It is kind of cool that their prejudice is related differently to both sides of the river. West Cowes is full of “braying” yachties while the inhabitants of poor East Cowes should be moved en masse to the Owl and Monkey Haven. Bags on the cage next to the gibbons!!!


  • eric – ryde

    30th October 2012 #12 Author

    So what is this “Monkey” business all about then?
    I tend to agree with Paul – not at all professional.
    Has someone hacked the site, as it is most strange from our friends on this website?


  • Paul

    29th October 2012 #13 Author

    “Monkey town”???

    On a ‘professional website’?

    You complete jackass. Well done.


  • Nikki

    19th September 2012 #14 Author

    A really disappointing Chinese

    After being recommended and a menu appearing through the doorstep, thought we’d give it a go. Ordered a safe option of chicken in batter sweet and sour, beef in black bean and a satay chicken. Unfortunately really disappointed with the satay, didn’t taste of anything except fish sauce in the runny satay wannabe, the beef for the black bean was fatty and chewy, the massive pot of sweet and sour was almost on par with drinking vinegar, thankfully two pots of egg fried rice, a packet of prawn crackers from tesco (not even a freebie prawn cracker in site despite charging me a pound to pay by card resulting in a bill of over £25 was our dinner tonight. Now where did I put the chocolate….
    A really disappointing Chinese especially as Ryde has so many good ones on offer.


  • Trace

    10th June 2012 #15 Author

    I think this is a fair review, my experience is lack lustre cooking by numbers; it is a shame to see this ubiquitous grub everywhere. Regarding East Cowes – the references to uber cool album and resident trend-setters is something ECowes PR should feel quite proud of!


  • Chris

    10th June 2012 #16 Author

    I have always read your comments and enjoyed them, but as a resident of East Cowes I have to say I’m offended by your ‘humour’ here, as was Steve previously. Not cool. Not clever. Just nasty. Maybe you’ve just gotten a little too big for your boots. Pathetic.


  • Steve

    28th August 2010 #17 Author

    ” …perhaps fillet steak was too rich a dish for East Cowes to handle… ”

    ” … it isn’t quite worth going to Monkey Town just for this… ”

    If snobbery against East Cowes is your thing, who is it that has the Waitrose?
    Really out of order and not what I expect, having valued some of your previous reviews, irrespective of what you thought of Jade Garden.


    • chris duffy

      10th October 2017 #18 Author

      Ian a resident of east cowes and it’s a fast growing little town . I be shocked that in a few yrs people will love to live here .