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DINERS DISH: Comfort and soulful food at Jingo's

Jingo's mystery reviewer is a prominent local foodie

COLUMBIA, 2/10/12 (Review) -- Whether you’re downtown looking for lunch, grabbing a bite after a weekend show at Ragtag Cinema or just looking for something new, Jingo’s fits the bill.   Just come with an open mind. 

Dining at Jingo’s requires making peace with certain... eccentricities.  On one recent visit I found the doors locked and lights off during posted hours of operation.   A phone call likewise went unanswered.  On a later visit, a booth stands in as a playpen for the (very adorable) toddler-aged son of one of the staff. Construction work next door can make parking dicey and loud.  

There’s even the name itself, alternately “Jingo’s” and “New Jingo’s,” depending on where you look. 

But inside it’s all comfort and soulful food. Handsome booths sit snug against large windows and overlook the activity on East Broadway.   Grab one if you can.  Most get snatched up by the restaurant’s dedicated Chinese patrons, for these are prime, pleasing tables.  Service is efficient and friendly, the language barrier surmounted with easy smiles and broken English.  

The menu, like the street outside, has a few potholes.  The Chinese-American standards are solid and serviceable, but ultimately dull.   Hunan Triple Delight is your find-it-anywhere stir-fry of vegetables, chicken, shrimp and beef with brown sauce, though admirable attention is paid to cooking the vegetables until just done.  The crab rangoon, for which Jingo’s is known, are homemade, plump with more crab than you’re used to and delicious. 

But still, we’re in well-charted territory here.  For a real treat, steer yourself over to the large soups and chef’s specialties. Hot and Spicy Beef Noodle Soup is as good a soup as you’re likely to encounter in town, brimming with chewy flank steak, yellow noodles and tender Swiss chard.  

The broth is light and beefy, with just enough black pepper to alert the sinuses. Order it “extra spicy” and you’ll find a half-dozen dried, charred Szechuan peppers making things even more interesting.   However you prefer it, the soup’s enough for at least two meals - and at $10.95, a winter-beating steal.

Mandarin Duck is also a popular item, and made to suit your preferred level of heat. 

If you’d like to have them come to you, Jingo’s delivers.   They’re also open late at night on the weekends.

Jingo's Chinese Restaurant

1201 E. Broadway Columbia, MO

573.874.2530

573.443.8713

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