I was eight years old when I visited China with my parents and that tour taught me only one thing, which I still believe with all my heart, is that "Bangladesh makes better Chinese food than China."
Although Bangladesh now has some restaurants that serve authentic Chinese food, I am sure for most of us Bangalis, Deshi Chinese is the real deal.
Since childhood, whenever I thought of Chinese restaurants, I visualized a big, dark place with red or blue lights, waiters dressed in black and white, lots of cutlery on the tabletop and families having a good time under the dimmed lights.
To this day, this is the scenario at most of the old Chinese restaurants in our country. One of them is Jing Ling Chinese Restaurant.
Located in Dhanmondi, Jing Ling is one of the oldest "deshi Chinese" restaurants in the city. Although there are doubts about the year of its inception, it surely started some time during the 1980s.
The restaurant was previously located near Zigatola bus stand but shifted to Dhanmondi 2 because of ongoing construction work near the old premises.
Upon entering the restaurant, the building wafted the same nostalgia despite the new premises being more luxurious and better maintained. Even after redecorating, one can obviously tell this is an old school deshi Chinese restaurant.
I wanted to taste the best of Jing Ling. So, from the extensive menu, I ordered some of their special items. It takes at least 20 minutes for your order to be served and the time can be passed smoothly if you are in the presence of good company and a good quality camera.
The glass walls of the restaurant lets you dine with a wonderful view and it is definitely a scenic place for those who love taking pictures wherever they go. And about good company - you better take someone with you as the food is served in a 1:4 ratio.
The first item to arrive on my table was the Jing Ling Special wonton. The item was more like a spring roll than wonton, but bigger in size. The wontons had a filling of chicken and shrimp and tasted amazing with the green sauce it came with. The serving size of these special wontons is more than enough for four people and is priced at Tk390.
This item was my most favorite and I would definitely recommend it.
Next came their chicken cashew nut salad and it costs Tk400. The chewy, crunchy and tangy taste of the salad will surely score full marks as an appetizer.
Many may wonder why I did not order their soup and for an answer I have to say that I was accompanied by people who think soup is a wastage of appetite.
The next dish to arrive was the main course - Jing Ling Special Fried Rice, Sizzling Chicken and Prawn Chili Dry.
The rice was my second favorite item and loved its deshi spicy flavor. The best part was that it had an ample amount of fried egg in it - just the way I like my fried rice.
However, I personally felt that the amount of rice was not enough for four people with a sizable appetite. The platter of fried rice costs Tk410.
The Sizzling Chicken tasted mediocre and could do way better.
The dish looked very good served on the smouldering sizzling plate but after having a spoonful I felt that the tanginess overpowered the sizzler's taste. This dish is priced at Tk475.
Prawn lovers should definitely try out the Prawn Chili Dry. The dish was full of chili and the prawn was covered in tempura batter and deep fried prior to being sautéed in caramelized onion.
The sweetness of the caramelized onion did not let the chili's heat rule. It was spicy and sweet at the same time - a perfect combination. And although I personally do not like eating prawn items at restaurants, it was still one of the best prawn dishes I tasted till now. The dish costs Tk480.
The food was very good and I felt deeply satisfied until we asked for the check. I was devastated to see that the soft drinks were priced at Tk40 for a small paper cup. The glasses were so small that after eating all the food, each of us had to have two glasses of soft drinks.
The additional Tk80 on the drinks stabbed me in the heart with a dagger. But I instantly reminded myself of the wonton, rice, and prawn and let go of the sorrow.
Jing Ling's prices may seem to be a little high but actually it is not as one serving of an item can be shared between four people.
Most of Jing Ling's customers are loyal to the brand who have been coming to the restaurant for more than 20 years.
The restaurant is tied with the happy memories of many families, which is why Al- Mamun, the manager of the restaurant, said, "The people who know Jing Ling will never stop coming to this place."
Jing Ling Chinese Restaurant is surely a recommended place if you want to experience "Khati Bangla Chinese".