In the famous movie "Flower Drum Song," a musical by Rogers and Hammerstein, there is a short scene that has stayed with me for many, many years.
Two of the characters in the film, fresh from a scene of chaos, find peace inside a restaurant. The place, where they share some food, is the memory that is so vivid in my mind. It was serene and I've looked for that place in Chinese restaurants over the years.
Now, I've found it at Jing's, a Chinese restaurant that features food from Shanghai. It's located at 207 E. Buffalo in the heart of the Third Ward. And for five years it must be one of the best kept secrets in the city.
I had dinner there the other night and a chance to talk with owner Jing Wang, a lovely woman who has created an oasis of peaceful joy in the middle of a big, bustling city.
Jing's has soft lighting that bathes the minimalist décor in warmth and makes it easy to catch your breath. The other thing is that it's a quiet restaurant. Even with other diners present, there is something about Jing's that inspires you to speak softly with your companions.
There are two menus at Jing's and each of them offers an array of delights that are prepared with care and presented at a well-paced comfort level.
One menu is filled with the kind of American-Chinese food you find at many area restaurants. I had a sweet and sour pork that was as good as I've had anywhere.
There is also a much smaller menu, printed on a single red card.
"This is a more traditional Chinese menu," explained Jing Wang, who has operated the restaurant for five years. "These are our special entrees."
This menu is so special to the restaurant that she would barely let a copy out to go with me and would only do so after I pledged on the graves of my fathers that I wouldn't reveal any of the items on the menu.
And lest you think that a menu this special would break the bank, be dissuaded from that notion. The most expensive item is $16.95 and the lowest is $5.95.
There is one item on that menu, the second one from the top in the list of appetizers, that may be the best thing I have ever eaten in any restaurant, anywhere.
Milwaukee has lots of outstanding Chinese restaurants but Jing's is clearly, right at the top of that list.
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