Twas a moonless night, dark as pitch, when out of the mist came a beast more stomach than man. – The Sea Captain in the Springfield courthouse, describing how much Homer ate at his seafood buffet.
It’s an exciting time in the Lakeline area. Asian restaurants have been around this area for a while, but with the recent introduction of H-Mart and its one of a kind Market Eatery (think Fareground, but inside of a grocery store, and all Asian food), the competition is ramping up. Interestingly, each restaurant in this area is very differentiated – you have hand pulled noodles at Xian, modern Asian fine dining and sushi at Soto, and fried chicken, Korean tofu, and ramen at H-Mart. Then you have Jenna’s, which offers a modern and pan-Asian dining experience. But that’s not what makes it unique. Jenna’s delivers a one of a kind all you can eat brunch experience that focuses on quality over quantity.
Usually, when I think of an Asian buffet in Austin, I think “Wow. They’re miles behind Houston.” Actually, that’s usually my first thought when I eat at any Asian place here, with a few exceptions.
It’s not really a fair comparison since the population in Houston is much larger, and more specifically, the Asian population is a lot higher there, thus leading to more demand, higher expectations, and competition. Having lived there for 19 years, and then living in Austin for 7, I can confirm that.
So when there’s good Asian food here, it gets me pumped up.
Jenna’s Asian Kitchen only serves brunch on Sunday, from 11-3. A tight window like that excites me because it means you can’t get it any other time. As soon as I went for my first plate, I could already tell that this is unlike any other Asian buffet I’ve ever set foot in.
First, there’s not a million choices. It’s in a small room, and all the food is practically on one table. For me, it’s very reminiscent of the buffet line at Jack Allen’s Sunday brunch. This is good, because judging just from the appearance of the food in each pan, I could tell that Jenna’s focuses on the quality of each dish instead of trying to pump out high volumes of it. They pay special attention to the presentation in some of the dishes, and you can just tell that time and care was put into offering variety.
For example, on my first plate alone, there are chicken lollipops, a deviled egg, vegetarian street noodles, mushu pork, pot stickers, flash fried green beans, and stir fried vegetables.
Speaking of vegetables, there is a LOT to choose from. Not once did I think “well… this place could definitely use more vegetables.” I’m not talking about salad. These are carefully thought out Asian vegetable dishes.
On my second plate is Jenna’s signature drunken noodles, beef bulgogi, walnut shrimp, eggplant and fried tofu, more street noodles, and more pot stickers and stir fried vegetables.
I can’t emphasize enough how much quality goes into each dish. There’s so many ingredients used, and nothing ever tasted overcooked or overpowering.
Yes, you’re inevitably going to run into some choices that you don’t like as much. But there are so many winners here that you’re bound to find a few that you go back for over and over.
And for you authenticity freaks out there, yes, there’s a few “Americanized” dishes here. But the “real” dishes definitely outweigh them.
So there you have it! The pictures here don’t show everything they offer. I was so in love with the drunken noodles, the veggies, and the street noodles, that I got them multiple times, and didn’t save room to sample everything.
The brunch is $15 per adult, and $2 per mimosa. For that price, you really can’t match the level of care and attention that is put into their food. You gotta try Jenna’s Sunday Brunch.
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