Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Credit Cards: American Express, MasterCard and Visa.
Prices: At lunch, entrees $3.75 to $5.25. At dinner, appetizers $1.95 to $3.50, entrees $4.95 to $12.95.
At last! There is now a destination for Arena theatergoers, EPA lunchers and Southwest apartment dwellers. It's a Chinese restaurant called Jenny's.
It may not be worth searching out if Waterside Mall is not in your locale, but for the Southwest D.C. desert of decent restaurants, it is a welcome stopping station.
The menu resembles Jenny's Chinese seafood predecessor--China Coral. Choices are interesting: crabs in ginger and scallion sauce, lechee shrimp, crispy fish rolls and macao scallops for appetizers.
Besides the two pages of seafood entrees, there are the standard beef, pork and poultry dishes, plus several excellently priced duck dishes ($6.95 an order of crisp duck and $7.95 an order of roast duck Cantonese style).
Seafood or otherwise, Jenny's does not duplicate the precision cooking and delicate presentations of the new Washington Chinese restaurant, but the portions are large, the dishes attractive and the final product several notches above an average neighborhood Chinese restaurant. Ditto the service and decor.
Waiters at Jenny's wear tuxedos, and the waitresses are coordinated with pink cummerbunds and bow ties. The service can be erratic, if, that is, you get the clumsy waiter who spills soup on the plate or forgets to take away the menus when the appetizers arrive. Aside from the video game in the vestibule, the atmosphere is serene with bare walls and Chinese red booths.
To begin, an unexpected nicety: The restaurant has an appealing drink menu, with the usual oriental powerhouses and a short but progressive beer list that includes Amstel Lite.
On to appetizers.
If it is fried, it's bound to be a bit greasy. That rules out the crispy fish rolls, for one, and the pu-pu tray, for another, which is a large Lazy Susan of fried chicken wings, fried wontons, shrimp tempura, egg rolls and spareribs.
The macao scallops are safer: scallops in coconut milk and sweet mild, curry sauce.
Hot and sour soup is a thick broth, heavier on the sour than the hot.
On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest, Jenny's vegetables rate about nine on crunchiness and the seafood between seven and eight on freshness.
The crispy flounder kew is a clever display. The deep-fried fish head and bones are spread like a doily underneath chunks of soft white meat and vegetables splayed out in its center. A pretty and tasty dish.
Even better is the Catches of the Sea in a Nest, a gingery melange of pink and white seafood and yellow and green vegetables in a crispy nest of fried potato.
The nest has "sweet tender scallops" as the menu describes, but only token pieces of shrimp, lobster and king crabmeat. No matter, really, because the scallops and vegetables are well cooked and their satiny and crunchy textures, respectively, are an effective twosome for the crackly potato nest.
It's safe to venture away from seafood at Jenny's. If you go for the hot and spicy stuff, expect it to be so.
There are visible flecks of red pepper and squares of ginger mingled with the beef, peanuts and water chestnuts in the kung pao beef. Not a bad rendition. And the yu-shang pork, slivers of pork, noodles, water chestnuts and greens, deserves the spicy hot asterisk next to its name.
The dish is better right after it comes from the kitchen. By the middle of the meal, the pork fat may soak into the other ingredients, leaving only the water chestnuts with their original snap.
End with a promising fortune cookie and a victorious video game, and you will have had a dinner worth repeating.