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Small wonder: Jade Chinese a tiny spot with tantalizing dishes

Hidden in plain sight in a tiny storefront facing the Sandia Mountains, Jade Chinese Restaurant – 8001 Wyoming NE, at Paseo del Norte – is a little cafe with big flavor.

The restaurant is small, with just over 50 seats. But the food is huge.

It’s easy to miss a place like this, hidden among hair salons and cellphone stores. If you haven’t gotten a recommendation from a regular, you might overlook the place altogether. But if you give it a shot, you might become a regular yourself.

The vegetable egg rolls are served with hot mustard and sweet-and-sour sauce for dipping. (Jason K. Watkins/For The Journal)

On a recent visit, I tried the sizzling beef in Mongolian sauce ($13.99) with fried rice and a couple vegetable egg rolls ($1.45 each). The egg rolls arrived first, with hot mustard and sweet-and-sour sauce for dipping. They were delicious, though slightly soggy in the middle. With a little soy sauce, they make an excellent appetizer. They’re pretty filling, though.

The main course was incredible. A huge mound of beef, onion and peppers is poured onto a sizzling-hot plate tableside and served immediately.

The beef steams and hisses for a minute. A dark and lightly sweet Mongolian reduction glazes the beef and peppers. The entire dish is peppery, in fact, but not overly spicy. The beef was tender and juicy, cooked medium and without any fat or gristle. The onions and peppers had a slight crunch and were extremely fresh.

The sauce itself was more savory than sweet and wasn’t overwhelming or overly filling. It added a delicious flavor to the fried rice.

The dinner portion of the sizzling beef would feed two comfortably and three if you get appetizers. I took home leftovers, which stood up quite well to reheating.

Jade is also immaculate: It smells like a Chinese restaurant (instead of a mall food court, for example), and I didn’t see a single thing out of its place. The interior is almost antiseptic in its cleanliness, which isn’t bad in a restaurant. Even the wait staff is focused on details: service was impeccable and fast on a Sunday afternoon. Because of the restaurant’s low profile and small size, service during the lunch rush is probably also speedy.

The only complaint? My fortune cookie told me I would receive good news from a friend that day and, sadly, I did not. Hardly Jade’s fault.

I did, though, find a great new spot for Chinese food.