Jim Wong Restaurant, 259 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 5971
It’s all very easy to take the likes of the late Jim Wong’s establishment – and the nearby Poon’s – for granted, surrounded as they are by colourful, delicious and affordable options of the more recently arrived Vietnamese, African and even Indian varieties.
They can conjure up, in the minds of the world weary or cynical, mental visions of tiresomely old-school food that has passed its use-by date.
Sure, but as regular readers will know, that has never stopped us.
On top of the funky, spicy, worldly western suburbs tucker that is the very core of our eating-out endeavours, we’re not averse to an RSL or bowls club roast lunch and the like.
So we’re very happy indeed to front for a mid-week dinner at Jim Wong, something that is somewhat belated in terms of the history of CTS.
And a fine time we have.
We love it – the menu, the decor, the furniture, just about everything.
We love it that there is real linen on the tables – and we even love it that we have to request chop sticks.
Well, mostly we love that, too.
We like the possibilities evoked by the nicely priced banquet line-up that ranges in price from $25 and upwards.
But the meat courses feature dishes with satay sauce, in which we are not interested.
Likewise, we know – based on unsatisfactory experiences in other places and at other times – not to order dishes with a South-East Asian heritage, so we ignore the Jim Wong offerings of char kwai teow and Hokkien noodles.
Short soup ($5) is, as Bennie declares, “plain but good”.
Of the two wontons I try, one is doughy, the other is lovely, with the very austere broth being quite different from those found in the nearby Vietnamese joints.
BBQ roast pork ribs ($8) are fabulous.
There’s only a couple of pieces of bone and/or gristle.
The meat is well-cooked, but nicely short of dry and the flavours are a kick, all abetted by a rich, dark sticky sauce.
Beef with black bean sauce ($23) is just OK – we’d like quite a bit more sharp zing from the sauce and the price seems a bit steep.
But we eat it all anyway …
No such problems with the greens with garlic sauce ($13.50).
This is the dish we have been most eagerly anticipating and we are not disappointed.
It is, of course, simplicity itself.
But there’s less oil involved than in many other versions we’ve had, some of which cost more than we’re paying, so this actually seems like a bit of a bargain.
We’ve eaten well and enjoyed what are, for us, unusual circumstances.
And while we’ve paid a little more than we would for an equivalent spread elsewhere in Footscray, we’re happy to have done so, taking on board a tasty reminder of a still-thriving emblem of Footscray heritage.