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Taste Test: J. Zhou Oriental Cuisine

Categories: Taste Test

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Edwin Goei
If you could only hear the Beethoven.
The following represents just a few initial impressions of J. Zhou Oriental Cuisine. This is not a full review.

First, the room is palatial--tall as a school gymnasium, decorated as though it were for royalty, with at least three kinds of dangling chandeliers and light fixtures. Also, no single wall looks the same. Look around and you notice each vertical surface has its own unique pattern or textured motif or marble that isn't repeated anywhere else in the room. And the seats: Plush. The music: Classical Beethoven.

Right now, during this honeymoon period, the service is over-the-top obsequious. Water is refilled, empty tea cups poured, finished plates whisked away. At this point, while the place is only slowly being discovered, the impeccably dressed waiters have nothing to do but coddle the few customers who've come to size up the new restaurant in town.

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Edwin Goei
Clockwise from top left: The soy-sauce noodles; The scallops with vegetables; The menu; The deep-fried dried smelt
J. Zhou Oriental Cuisine, despite a name that might imply it's something like P.F. Chang's, is as far from it in every way. This is not the Americanized Chinese restaurant that the person at Happy Harbor said they were planning when I called them a few years ago to ask about the development. The menu has dishes you'd think would play better in San Gabriel Valley, not a plaza where Pei Wei is the only other Chinese joint in the parking lot. But perhaps they saw the success of Diamond Jamboree and Capital Seafood (which is less than a block away) as proof that this area is ready for another unapologetically authentic Cantonese restaurant.

Among their specials: a bird's nest chicken soup, deep fried squab, sea cucumber with goose web, and a "Double Dragon" Abalone dish that you have to order one week in advance. Prices hover between $15-$20 per dish on average. Live seafood will cost significantly more.

I took a simple wok-tossed soy-sauce chow mein that was good and smoky; a scallop stir-fried with sugar snap peas that seemed overpriced for its portion size and blandness; and a fried tangle of dried smelt, which I couldn't stop eating. Our dinner for two that consisted of these three dishes with no drinks (they do not currently have a liquor license) totaled nearly $50.

It's most likely that most of J. Zhou's early customers will come for the dim sum, which is served daily until 3 p.m. It will be the true litmus test of whether this place will break the curse that Pablo's Cantina and Bistro West couldn't shake.

2437 Park Ave., Tustin, CA 92782

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7 comments
Driver
Driver

I wish this place well, but IMO one of the things that makes any establishment located at the District a tough sell is the horrendous parking/circulation situation there. Whoever designed and approved the layout should be forced to try to get in and out of there a couple of times a day. 

Driver
Driver

I wish this place well, but IMO one of the things that makes any establishment located at the District a tough sell is the horrendous parking/circulation situation there. Whoever designed and approved the layout should be forced to try to get in and out of there a couple of times a day. 


The OC Weekly oughtta do a story on what a cluster-f**k that situation is...

slop101
slop101

Not even one word on where this place is located? Horrible write-up, and pathetic editing.

slop101
slop101

@Driver Totally! And whoever did design that layout, when they die, they're hell will be them forever trapped in the traffic loop created by their own layout at the District.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@slop101 

Um, the address is there...it's the last line of the article! Looks like YOU need to work on your reading comprehension skills. :-P

slop101
slop101

@fishwithoutbicycle @slop101 Nice try. Just to make sure, I loaded up the cached page and that address wasn't there when I first posted the comment - you added that later. But yeah, go ahead and blame my "reading comprehension" instead of coping to your mistake.

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