Ja Jiaozi is open and ready to thrill you with some unique new tastes!
The first US location of the popular Chinese chain, Ja Jiaozi opened about six months ago at the Irvine Marketplace. Ja Jiaozi focuses on serving up healthy and flavorful Chinese dishes while staying true to its Chinese roots.
In case you hadn't noticed, Orange County has become a hotbed of dumpling houses in the past couple years. There's used to be a time not that long ago when craving dumplings meant you had to drive to Garden Grove or Westminster to find quality dim sum. Nowadays, delicious authentic dumpling and Chinese food are accessible all over Orange County. Lucky us! ;)
So what sets Ja Jiaoizi apart from all the other dumping or Chinese restaurants in OC? Well, first off their dumpling are handmade - from the dough to the crimping, these bad boys are made fresh. You can even verify this when you walk into the restaurant and see them being made through the big observation window. True to their mission of bringing healthy food to the Chinese loving public, Ja Jiaozi also forgoes the typical MSG, artificial colors, and preservatives that can often be found in Chinese food.
Signature House Dumplings - yum!
The first decision you'll have to make at Ja Jiaozi is boiled or steamed, as in how you like your signature dumplings? I tried both and although I have a preference for steamed, they were both delicious and cooked perfectly. The signature jiaozi are pork, dried shrimp and shrimp roe, and are a MUST order if you visit. There's a reason they're the most popular item on the menu! ;)
They also offer many other versions of dumplings from vegetable, cod fish and chives, pork and celery, and shrimp to their highly popular steamed jiaozi combo, which is an instagrammer's dream with all 5 dumplings a different color. Remember - they use NO artificial colors in their food so each of these gems is colored naturally which also means each piece has a unique flavored skin. The yellow dumpling is made using pumpkin, the black is made with cuttlefish sauce, green is spinach and red is red cabbage. Pretty creative and the best part, is they all have a different filling and all taste delicious! It's a great way to get introduced to some of the different varieties they offer at Ja Jiaozi.
Steamed Jiaozi Combo
In addition to dumplings, Ja Jiaozi has a full menu of creative dishes including veggies, hot and cold noodle dishes, fried rice varieties, soups, and several creative house specialty dishes. They also have quite a few ingredients on the menu you don't see in a typical Chinese restaurant like quinoa and cactus.
Braised Beef w Quail Eggs
One of my favorites was the house specialty, Braised Beef with Quail Eggs. Unlike many egg dishes, the quail eggs are cooked through so when you bite into them they're solid, but still soft - sort of like a slightly more tender and flavorful hard boiled egg. It's the perfect pairing to the tender braised beef which results in a really terrific dish.
Beef Fried Rice w Mushrooms
Another dish I really enjoyed was the Beef Fried Rice with Mushrooms which admittedly is not the most appealing dish when it arrives at the table, with it's brown monotone color. However, after a few bites you'll be more than wiling to forgive the somewhat bland appearance of the dish. Cooked perfectly and with the umami mushroom flavor that melds perfectly with the crispy beef slices throughout. Ironically, we almost didn't order it because the menu said it had 'cheese' in it, which we thought was a tad off. However, the cheese is very subtle and adds a bit of creaminess to the rice - surprisingly good!
Stir Fried Green Beans w XO Sauce
If you're looking for a vegetable dish, I highly recommend the Stir Fried Green Beans with XO Sauce. Cooked tender but with a distinct crunch, these green beans are some of the most delicious I've ever tried. Not sure what they put in their XO sauce but it definitely brings out the best of the green beans.
Another item on the menu worth noting, that really blew my tastes-buds away was the Fried Rice Cakes for dessert. Not sure what to expect from the description, but I was anticipating something along the lines of a ricecrispie cake. Boy, was I wrong! These little morsels of deliciousness were unlike anything I've ever tried before - crispy on the outside but with a warm interior of ooey gooey mochi-like dough, and drizzled with sweet condensed milk, raspberry sauce and chocolate. Even though I shared the dish with my friend, I could've easily eaten the whole order by myself! If you like mochi do not skip this tasty little treat!
Fried Rice Cakes
I really enjoyed trying out Ja Jiaozi and highly recommend it to anyone wanting Chinese dishes and dumpling that differ from what you typically find in Orange County. Trust me, you won't be disappointed and be sure to tell them OCFoodieGirl sent you!
Ja Jiaozi is located at 13776 Jamboree Road, on the Irvine side of the Marketplace, next to the movie theaters. Open daily from 11-2:30pm and 5-9pm. 714/786-8999