Jobee's Review: Three cup chicken and oyster omlette
Taiwanese food is pretty difficult to come by in Manhattan. Out in Flushing, you can find it fairly easily. But in Manhattan’s Chinatown, you mostly find Shanghainese (soup buns), Catonese (dim sum), or Fujianese (fuzhou fishballs). There is one place that has it though… and it’s called Jobee’s.
Before I get into the food and you confuse the pictures with what I’m actually going to tell you… I preface this post by telling you that if you don’t like Taiwanese food, don’t even bother coming here because this isn’t the type of place that’s going to convert you. This is the type of place you go if you have a hankering for fond memories of Taiwanese food. My friend Eric the Teacher joined me on this journey, and at first he was
One of the classic Taiwanese dish is three cup chicken or sanbeiji. You make it with a cup of soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil, hence the three cups. You also add some basil in there. I remember eating this all the time as a kid and obviously my mom has the best version in the universe. In case you forgot, my mom can make daifuku. Basic algorithms tell us that her skills, when applied to three cup chicken could probably revolutionize mid-east peace. It’s a shame they haven’t had any though.
So if mom’s version is a ten, Jobee’s is like a six. It’s good enough to eat, and reminiscent of ones I’ve had in the past, but just not super amazing. It’s probably the best version you’ll find on the island of Manhattan. And I’ll go back and order it again, but it’s lacking in basil flavor and sesame oil flavor. Three cup chicken has to smell like playing Nintendo for the first time. It has to dominate all your senses and make you drool like an idiot. Jobee’s version? It needs work.
To add some greens into our diet, we had some watercress. I’m too tired to google this but basically this is a hollowed stemmed vegetable. When I order it, that’s actually how I order it. It looks nothing like the pictures of watercress on google. It seems like there’s another kind of watercress that’s got really thin stems and little round leaves. That ain’t the same shit. The vegetables were stir fried with some shallots and Sha cha sauce. It’s labeled as BBQ sauce but I think that’s just because when they translated the thing, they realized that there’s really nothing like it. It’s more like a very very tame hot sauce. When you get a jar of it, there’s the oil at the top and the paste at the bottom. It’s not really anything like BBQ sauce that Americans know and love. Anyway, this tasted great. Stir fried vegies usually are awesome.
And of course, the thing that Eric and I had been waiting for… oyster omelette. This thing of beauty was made with oysters, eggs, corn starch, and some spinach. On top there’s some sweet and spicy sauce that came from a jar. To me, this is classic street fare in Taiwan. This is one of those cheap things that I ate as a kid. It’s all about the soft texture of the oyster and the crisp egg. It’s super sloppy because the corn starch is all goopy and shit. I’m telling you right now, if you didn’t eat this as a child, there’s almost no chance in hell you’re going to like this. But if you did eat it as a child, seeing this for the first time in like, a decade? It’ll give you like a porn star boner. This was great. It brought back childhood memories and I could eat this all day. There probably are better version of this in Flushing, but this is good in a pinch.
So far everything is hunky dory, right? So then the woman comes by again and tries to upsell some other stuff. Because the three dishes that Eric and I had? $19 dollars. Pretty ridonkulous therefore I could understand wanting us to spend more. For some reason we also ate a zongzhi. It wasn’t that good, but she said it in Taiwanese and for some odd reason that just made me order it even with all this other food in front of me.
Then she brought out a TUPPERWARE. Seriously, no joke. We’re sitting there eating, and she comes out with a plastic tupperware and asks us if we know what this pink shit was. Eric and I were perplexed and the thing looked familiar enough, and for some reason Eric nodded and two minutes later that was on our plate. Talk about ghetto fabulous. It was basically a middle aged lady saying, “You know this right? Yea come on, you remember what this is. You want some? Ok, I sell it to you.”
I still don’t know what it was. But ask yourself this – when was the last time you went to a restaurant, and ordered out of a tupperware take-out container? WHEN?! This kind of stuff only happens in Chinatown, people.
What is it? It’s basically a pink mochi, except for one really really important thing. Mochi is DRY. This thing, on the outside, was coated with something oily? Viscous? No idea what it was. On the inside was mung bean filling, which I love. So this wasn’t all that bad, and at 75 cents a piece, it’s worth risking your life to try.
So I come home and google this Jobee place. See, I eat first, ask questions later, and then read about it in the newspaper. This came up. Nom nom. Salmonella. Yea sure, it was three years ago, but still. Wacky. That’s one of the risks of eating in Chinatown. Mom, don’t worry. I feel fine.
Should you go to Jobee’s? I’ll let you decide that yourself, but I will tell you that the food is merely okay. For nostalgia reasons, it gets bumped up in my book, and I’ll certainly be back. If you’re not craving Taiwanese cuisine, then it almost certainly won’t taste as good to you. There’s probably Taiwanese food that’s way more awesome in Flushing, but that’s for another day.
Jobee’s3 Howard St.New York, NY 10013212-941-0400