KOM JUG YUEN (371 Spadina, at Cecil, 416-977-4079) Complete meals for $7 per person, including all taxes, tip and tea. Average main $6. Open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 11 am to 1 am, Tuesday 11 am to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 4 am. Unlicensed. Access: three steps at door, washroom in basement. Rating: NNN
Twenty years from now, when you look back on your student days, you’ll be glad you spent some time at the Jug.
You’ll be able to reminisce about the small, well-worn linoleum-and-Arborite-finished room, the thunk, thunk, thunk of the cleaver, the “Mother’s Day special” sign that never came down and the old cook with his crooked baseball cap.
Based on conversations with the staff, it’s difficult to determine how long Kom Jug Yuen has been in business, but a customer volunteers that he’s been eating here for 30 years.
Nobody’s trying to rewrite the classics of chop suey cooking here. Flavours aren’t exactly bold, and I’m guessing – based on that weird swollen-mouth feeling – the kitchen’s not shy with the MSG, but the servings are voluminous, competent, hot and cheap. How cheap? You can order the dinner for six, which would probably serve eight, for $52.
Won ton soup ($4) features rich ducky-tasting broth, the big won tons stuffed with balls of coarsely ground pork speckled with fat. Barbecued pork with rice ($4) – North America’s best, according to the hand-lettered sign out front – is a big plate of mahogany-finished chunks of pig that range from tender to chewy, depending on what part of Porky they’ve been pulled from.
Two kinds of mushrooms with fried tofu ($6.75) is pretty self-explanatory. “Chinese mushrooms” are what I take to be shiitakes, and they’re the dish’s highlight, along with button mushrooms, some fairly floppy tofu, onions and carrots in a generous oyster sauce. Baby bok choy in garlic sauce ($7.95) delivers with simplicity: the tender, mellow little cabbages don’t require much more than good timing.
If you’re thinking of lunch, Kom Jug Yuen’s the place. Order a massive plate of Singapore-style vermicelli ($5.95) and relax along with the solitary men slurping their servings of reliable Spadina eats while Cantonese radio plays in the background.
The feel is real.