Strip mall restaurants rarely get a second look from me, but after seeing a movie with friends in the De Vargas mall, we went to Jinja to have a bite and discuss the movie. Loved it, but couldn’t convince Steve to give it a go because of the strip mall until a few weeks ago. I was vindicated! He loved it too. So what’s to love about Jinja? How about some Trivia: Gene Hackman (homeless slapping actor; once saw a friend walk up to him in a gallery and totally invade his space so maybe you can understand his frustration) was once part owner of this establishment. Trivia aside, the decor is warm, rich and inviting.
We were seated almost immediately, without a reservation, though they do take them.
Our server was prompt, knowledgeable and friendly. I ordered the Peartini and then we perused the menu and what a great menu they do have! My Peartini, by the way, was fantastic. I have had a similar drink at The Pelican in New Orleans, and make it at home as well, so it is one of my favorites!
We started with the Crispy Vietnamese Spring Rolls and they were delicious. I am picky about my spring rolls and these held up to my standards of veggie filled and lightly crisp.
For dinner I enjoyed the Malay Coconut Soup, a version of Tom Yum, which is my go-to in Asian restaurants. This one did not let me down. The udon noodles were a great addition. The ingredient that makes Tom Yum soup so yummy is the lemon grass and this soup definitely has that going on.
Steve had the Orange Peel Tofu (usually made with chicken or beef, which are choices at Jinja). The sauce was incredible, but the pieces of tofu should be cut much smaller so that they absorb the flavor better. They did offer to take it back and redo it, but he chose to eat it as is and just knows to ask for small bites next time.
One of the managers visited with us a bit at our table. We enjoyed talking to her and hearing a little about the restaurant and a bit about the other locations, as they have two others in Albuquerque. She also filled us in on some of the paintings done by Gene Hackman. They are lovely. This one is my favorite:
And here’s another:
Chile is of course what most of us love to eat here in Santa Fe, and visitors to Santa Fe love the New Mexican food as well, however, life isn’t chile everyday (okay, well it is, but sometimes we do step outside our chile zone) and Jinja is a great place to shake things up, try something new, and enjoy a change of pace.
We visited on a weeknight, around 7:00ish. For weekends, definitely make a reservation.
See you in Santa Fe!