I have a strong tendency to get into food ruts. When I love something and find a place that makes it well, I balk at trying it at a new place. Especially when I’m craving it. Zach and I were craving dim sum this morning, but decided to be adventurous and try something new, since we’re always eating at Sun Ya. I had heard good things about Jumbo on Rainier, so we went to check it out.

While pulling into the parking lot I noticed that it shared space with a furniture/wedding store. Please note that it’s a combined furniture and wedding gown store, not two separate stores. As we approached Jumbo, there was a sign directing us to the “main” entrance, which happened to be the furniture store, so I got to see the most gaudy furniture I’ve ever seen in my life. I felt like we had been transported to a Boca Raton retirement community. I was giddy because it was just so bizarre.

We walked into the restaurant and it was a cavernous space. As we were being led to our table, I almost crashed into a cart because I was trying to see what was being served across the room. It looked an awful lot like Fried Nothing.

Fried Nothing was my favorite dim sum item when I was a kid. When my grandma would take me for dim sum, she would order in Chinese, so I never knew what it was actually called. My brother and I dubbed it Fried Nothing because that’s basically what it was. I was trying to tell Zach what I saw, but all I could manage to do was point and gesture wildly because I was too thrilled to talk.

We were seated on the edge of the dance floor, just slightly to the left of the disco ball, but to the right of the fancy lighting system. While we waited for the carts to come we speculated on what the night life at Jumbo was like. I guessed scary.

We ate all the usual suspects: steamed hum bow, baked hum bow, ha gow, meatballs and eggplant with shrimp. I really wanted to love this place—mostly because it was so kooky, but I just couldn’t. The dim sum was average at best, with the exception of the sticky rice; it was the best sticky rice I’ve ever had, but it certainly didn’t warrant driving that far south or suffering through the other mediocre food.

We were getting full, but the Fried Nothing cart still hadn’t come. I refused to leave until we tried it, so we waited. And waited. I tracked the cart around the room, sighing with frustration when it looked like it was headed towards us, then (sigh) took a turn and went in the other direction. Finally the cart came. The Fried Nothing was served with jook, but I talked the woman into just giving us the Fried Nothing because I’m super picky about jook (I only like the stuff my family makes). I asked the waitress what it was called, so that I could finally request it at restaurants. She told me it was a Chinese Donut. Oh. I was disappointed that it wasn’t more exotic sounding, but I had to admit, that’s exactly what it was.

Imagine a long and skinny churro-shaped donut that’s not sweet at all, and a little greasy. On my first bite, I was disappointed. I wondered why I had been so enthralled with them when I was a kid. One my second bite, I changed my mind. It was Fried Nothing! Why wouldn’t a kid (or any sane adult) love it? We ended up eating the entire plate of donut (which was a lot) and each bite kept getting better. Just as we finished the platter, I saw someone coming out of the kitchen with a fresh batch of donuts. I was stuffed, but so tempted to order another plate to see how they taste when they’re hot (I’m guessing heavenly).

So overall, I was happy with our Jumbo experience, but only because I will now be able to order Fried Nothing at Sun Ya.

(I just found a great link on Foodgoat that covers the all important topic of Fried Dough Around the World. It’s the best site ever.)

Jumbo Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon