I’ve been eyeing JA Jiaozi at the Tustin Marketplace for a while now, and finally stopped by for lunch with a friend. The decor is modern and chic, so I am immediately apprehensive about its authenticity. However, I do enjoy dining in a comfortable atmosphere with good service, and JA Jiaozi possesses these aspects, as well as staff who are able to engage customers in an effective manner.
We started with Okra in Seasoned Dressing ($5.50) which was beautifully light and well flavored. The shards of fried ginger add a nice touch, but make sure you don’t take too much of it in one go as it will overwhelm the subtlety of the gorgeously hued okra.
I can never resist wings, so Crispy Chicken Wings ($7.50) are a must. These are prepared with garlic powder and retains a lovely crispy finish, while staying moist on the inside. Both my dining partner and I enjoy these tremendously.
I am in the mood for soup noodles, and Chicken Soup Noodles ($10.50) is the only item which sounds appealing. On the menu, the photos relay a bowl reminiscent of the one at Din Tai Fung. However, it is a poor example of what could have been a solid dish. The awful soup to noodles ratio is the first thing that comes to mind. There is little to hardly any broth, and what little there is in the bowl is bland and one dimensional. I would not order this again.
With “jiaozi” (dumplings) in its name, it is only fitting that we order some to try. Steamed Jiaozi Combo ($8.50) is an aesthetically beautiful presentation with five dumplings of different color in one basket.
White: consists of shrimp but possesses no flavor whatsoever. This dumpling came in last on the list.
Yellow: pumpkin infused wrapper stuffed with chicken. It is decent but not fantastic making it number four on the list.
Black: these black cod dumplings using squid ink wrapper are very tasty and comes in second.
Green: interestingly, this veggie dumpling wrapped in a spinach-infused wrapper is my favorite. I am pleasantly surprised that this veggie dumpling is packed with flavor and multiple textures.
Red: pork with red cabbage infused wrapper. It is reminiscent of a xiao long bao in flavor minus the soup. This comes in third place.
JA Signature Jiaozi ($10.50) are boiled dumplings stuffed with pork, dried shrimp, and shrimp roe. The texture of the wrapper is perfect with equally tasty filling encased inside. These are delicious, and I would come back just for them.
JA Jiaozi is a hit and miss, but once you weed out the good offerings from the mediocre, you’ll have a wonderfully tasty meal that’s sure to please.
2961 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92782