Having grown up in Hong Kong, there are several places that will always have a special place in my food memory. When we were young(er), my parents were creatures of habit when it came to food, and I can’t remember if it was because they loved these places, or if it was because my brother and I always insisted that we go there. Cinta J was one of these places.
It has relocated a few times in my lifetime – I still remember when it was in the basement of a nondescript building that I can’t recall, we always sat at the table next to the big fish tank, perhaps to amuse us kids (back in the day, when Ipads didn’t exist). Now it is on Jaffe Road, down the street from Joe Bananas and opposite Dusk Til Dawn. A bright neon sign lights the way, proclaiming it’s offerings of Filipino, Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai food.
Crispy Pata is probably not something that a child, or an adult for that matter, should have been eating every other weekend, but we did, and it was (and still is) crazy good. In the 20 years that have passed, the Crispy Pata at Cinta J has remained the same. What’s more, the kitchen churns out those babies one after the other, each table at the restaurant getting their fix of pigs trotter and leg that has been simmered in spices, rubbed with seasonings and then deep fried to crispy perfection.
The satays here are also good, thick chunks of meat in generous portions, brought to the table with a mini cast iron burner to heat them before you et them – a nice touch! I’ve had better peanuts sauces though.
The kangkung had a medium level of spice (as requested). The clean and fresh taste of the morning glory comes through with a tasty hint of dried shrimp and chili. I’ve never really enjoyed the Thai-style morning glory, with lots of those little mung beans – blachan is best!
These fried squid were a nice cross between grilled and fried, but without all of that batter. Still, not my favorite thing out of what we ordered.
For dessert, we ordered fresh sliced mango and a halo-halo to share – the Filipino version of Es Kacang. It was very sweet, cold and milky as expected – again, not the best I’ve ever had, but it was good for sharing.
We were there on a Monday night, and were mistaken in thinking that it would be quiet. The place was packed and at around 9pm, the same band that has played there for ages came out of the stage, led by a 60ish year old Filipino guy in a cowboy hat, belting out Tom Jones and Neil Diamond, and a very convincing Louis Armstrong!
If you are craving Filipino or Indo food, it’s worth it to check out at least once. You can’t really beat the prices (happy hour 11am until 9pm!) at this old school establishment, and as a bonus, perhaps have a little walk down memory lane.
Address: Shop G-4, Malaysia Building, 69 Jaffe Rd., Wan Chai
Tel: +852 2529 6622