THE last time I passed Jimmy Chung’s at the Beach, folk were queuing out the door.
Not that I’m one for following the herd but I thought something good must be going on in there.
Which is how Mrs B, the Bairn and I fetched up gazing at a dizzying array of food held on three steam tables, with a ringside view of the scoffing arena in this eatery with its busy vibe that sits somewhere between cocktail lounge and posh canteen.
Now, being an old hand at the all-you-can-eat schtick, I am well aware of the strategies you need.
First, you have to be hungry. Second, you mustn’t stuff your face too full on the starters.
The trick is to get that balance between wanting to gorge but showing restraint on your first trip to the food.
Don’t blame me. Blame Mr Chung. He put all that mouthwatering stuff out there, in huge mounds, just inviting you to tuck in.
I arrived back at the table with chicken satay skewers, fried mushrooms, sesame chicken toast, lemon grass wings, chicken and cheese spring rolls and crispy chicken won ton.
I also had what I thought was shredded duck (no label) and realised too late I had missed the pancakes and fixings. Oh, and I would have had sushi, but it was, bizarrely, over by the desserts.
What I did have was tasty, especially the tender satay sticks and the odd combination of cheese and chicken in that not-too-greasy spring roll.
The won ton was more crisp than chicken, though, and jings was there a lot of salt running through everything.
Still, I worked my way through the heap while Mrs B and the bairn picked delicately at their more modest samplings.
Huh, devil take the hindmost I thought, as a friendly waiter removed my empty plate, giving me the go-ahead to hit those mains.
Now, if I started to list all the different dishes, from noodles to rice, sweet and sour to Thai curries, there would be enough to fill most of this page. Suffice to say, think of your favourite Asian dish and it will probably be up there somewhere – although the huge sign saying “tepanyaki” turned out to be apple crumble and donuts.
Still, I enjoyed the tom yum pork, with its zing of chilli, liked the tang of mixed meats in black pepper, savoured the lemongrass running through the Thai green curry, but found the Cantonese steak too sweet.
And then, as I often find with buffet extravaganzas, my taste buds jaded (connected to my rapidly filling stomach, I suspect).
Things started to taste a bit samey, a bit middle-of-the-road mass market, as opposed to stand-out extraordinary.
The Mongolian lamb offered a spike of unusual flavours, almost Indian, but I was done for by then, pushing my plate away while still chewing food.
Still, my hunger pangs were well gone and therein lies the secret of Jimmy Chung’s.
It’s not haute cuisine, it doesn’t pretend to be. You know what you’re going to get when you walk through the door and it delivers that, no more, no less at a bargain price.
Which explains those queues.