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.
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.
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.
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
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.