My mother doesn’t approve of my dining out habits and related financial insecurity, but Jinwei (Jinweigu) Food has the rare distinction of being one of the few places approved by my mother. Their offering of Northern Chinese breakfasts foods is attuned almost perfectly to my tastebuds as an ex-Northern Chinese kid, and I must say that I enjoyed almost everything on offer.
This triangle pork pie ($6.80) is a best seller, and one bite is enough to tell you why. The pork filling is juicy and tasty, and the thin pan-fried flour pastry is perfectly proportioned for that optimal filling to carb ratio. This isn’t something that I remember having growing up, but I wish it were.
The shitake mushroom and pork pie ($5) was in a form more similar to what I’m used to, adhering to the standard filling enveloped by dough xian bing formula. Like the triangle pork pie this filling of mushroom and pork was also new to me, but thoroughly enjoyed. I do wish that the dough were a little bit thinner to optimise the flour to filling ratio though, and you can see from the cross-sectional imagery that one layer of dough was unfortunately much thicker than the other.
The mashed potato and beef roll ($3.50) was not bad, but certainly more potato than beef, with an overall creamy taste and texture with a hint of meat umami. It was a favourite of my partner the potato fiend, though as I have been in a carb-avoidant state I tried to only have a little bit.
The mung-bean powder wrap with deep fried dough sticks ($7.50) or jianbing guozi (煎饼馃子) was the memory from childhood that I had been chasing, which sadly will remain just a memory for now. I had incredibly high expectations from this, jianbing guozi being perhaps my favourite food in the world before the age of four. While there are specific points for improvement (the dough cruller (you tiao) was not particularly crispy and they used another sauce other than tian mian jiang)) I think that ultimately much like your Italian nonna’s bolognese it’s probably just not physically possible to reach the pinnacle of expectation that your four year old self with an undeveloped frontal cortex has set for you. Nothing is ever as good as you remember, though in this case my mum agrees.
In mid 2023 I had this eggplant pie ($3.50), which tasted exactly the same as it looks – oily, juicy, crispy, meaty, with some pork mince and eggplant surrounded by a light batter and deep fried. Delicious and terrible for you at the same time.
Overall Jinwei Food is a winner for me, directly invoking memories of growing up and eating food at the hawker stands under our apartment building in Northern China. Many of their foods are delicious and well priced, though sadly the one thing that I was really looking forward to (jianbing guozi) did not quite live up to my expectations. Despite this I am glad to live so close to such a fantastic restaurant, and hope that they can open back up for dining in at some point soon.
Jinwei (Jinweigu) Food 津味谷