Jum Bo's, Thurles, Co. Tipperary - 22 February, 1997

This was totally unexpected. Normally, Mary and I will go out for a few pints on a Saturday night to one of the local hostileries (sorry, hostelries). But this Saturday night, I fancied a change. Friends had recommended Jum Bo's in the past, but because the road between Nenagh and Thurles is so bad, a national scandal in my opinion, I've never really been up to driving over to Thurles at night. Then of course there are the drink-driving laws to consider... But whatever spark of inspiration lit up the firmaament that night, I sez to herself, "Wife, let's us heigh ho to Jum Bo's". Which is what we did.

Now, it has to be said at the outset that Jum Bo's layout and decor is, to say the least, a little off-putting. There isn't a lot of circulation space, so one's latent claustrophobia begins to surface. And the ceiling is very low which adds to the enclosed feeling. Add to that the worn carpeting and the need to re-wallpaper, and you can understand why Mr. Trepidation started ringing the doorbell.

For starters, both Mary and I had Malaysian Chicken Satay; skewered deep-fried chicken pieces in a nutty, mild curry-type sauce. The chicken was gorgeous, although I did manage to pierce me gums once or twice... The sauce was gorgeous too, not too hot, but definitely tasty. But do you know waht really wowed me? The onions in the garnished were the springiest damn onions I've ever eaten. Oh, mamma! Mary loved the starter as well, but she didn't make a pig of herself with the garnish.

Our main courses differed. Mary had Chicken Supreme Shanghai Style, while I had Tao Pan Beef. The chicken consisted of fillets folded over and filled with thin strips of ham and spring onions, deep-fried with a thin batter and coated in a light fruity sauce. This was absolutely gorgeous. I know because mAry and I went half-and-half with our main courses. The Tao Pan Beef was rather like a chop suey with a soy-heavy, spicy sauce. It was lovely too, but not quite as nice as the chicken.

We passed on desserts, and rounded off the evening with a pot of jasmine tea. How refreshing!

In view of the drink-driving laws, we shared a half-bottle of that old standby, Mateus Rose. Standard fare, really.

How does one rate Jum Bo's?. The food was excellent, the service was fast, efficient and very friendly. Normally, the waiters in Chinese restaurants are a fairly dour lot, but these guys were obviously descendants of the O'Wongs from Ballycanton. It's not really fair to compare Chinese or Indian restaurants with other types of dinery. They're just so different. Accordingly, I'll award Jum Bo's 8 chopsticks. Change the decor or move premises, preferably to Nenagh, and we're easily looking at a 9.

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