Serving an ample selection of specialized fare, Jade Orchid Asian Bistro is part of an expanding, eclectic Ventnor restaurant scene.
Chef Michael Leung is a pretty unassuming guy.
So much so that during the initial phase of our recent interview, he neglected to mention five years spent training under a Master Dim Sum chef in China during his twenties. Leung, the partner/operator — along with friend Linda Deblaeri — of Ventnor’s Jade Orchid Asian Bistro, has been in business at the Ventnor Avenue location for almost three years.
Previously, he ran China Dumpling, described as a fairly standard Chinese-style restaurant, and briefly, an American-themed eatery called BYO Grill.
But it was up to his friend and general manager Ryan Chin to inform us of Leung’s formal background. Dim Sum is a sort of Asian cross between brunch and tapas.
Servers typically roll carts filled with various delicacies — especially various steamed dumplings in bamboo baskets — out to hordes of voracious diners.
It’s high-volume, higher-pressure work, evidenced by an episode of Bravo’s Top Chef All Stars, whose challenge was to take over a popular New York City Chinatown Dim Sum operation for a day.
Perhaps never before in the history of the program have the chef-testants been so thoroughly and completely discombobulated. One patron is even overheard hissing out “Caucasian Dim Sum” while sampling disappointing cuisine.
And while Dim Sum remains only a portion of Jade Orchid’s lengthy menu, it serves as a clear declaration of Leung’s very special repertoire of talent.
During our visit, we tested one of those items, shrimp and chive dumplings. Portioned generously with three golf-ball size purses of delicate seafood combined with sharp, oniony herb, this delectable plate is also a real value, priced at only $6.
Most astonishing was the pastry itself. Smooth and translucent, these bore all the marks of having been formed by a skilled craftsman.