The Sweet and Sour Shrimp and Chicken at Jing Yan is served with broccoli and rice. Photo by Meredith Goad

Jing Yan is just one example of why we are happy that brave entrepreneurs are still opening restaurants in Portland, albeit for takeout only, in the middle of a pandemic.

The Asian restaurant at 90 Congress St. on Munjoy Hill took over the small space once occupied by Lolita, the popular local spot that closed in September 2019. Owners Britt Langford and her husband, Leo Zhang, have both lived and worked in Beijing, and have expressed the desire to give Portland another choice for Chinese-inspired takeout during these unprecedented times for the restaurant industry.

The takeout menu is, for now, short but varied: Small plates ($6-$9) featuring Asian-style slaw, cucumber tofu salad, or chicken wings; five rice or noodle options ($13-$14), including a gyudon bowl and a vegetarian green curry; and veggie, beef or chicken bento boxes ($15-$16). Sandwiches ($10-$12) are offered daily until 3 p.m., including a Chinese banh mi and a kung pao chicken sandwich. Diners also have the option of adding meat, shrimp, noodles, a fried egg or other extras for a minimal charge. Delivery costs $10.

Jing Yan also sells mocktails, wine and cocktails for one or two, such as their Chocolate Negroni, Munjoy Hill Hipster and Tiki-style Singapore Sling.

I tried two dishes, one beef and one chicken-and-shrimp. The sweet-and-sour shrimp and chicken, served over rice and accompanied by a serving of steamed broccoli, was flawless. The order included three fried shrimp and lots of chicken, all deep fried and lightly tossed in sweet-and-sour sauce so it wasn’t cloyingly sweet. The sticky rice and broccoli were perfect, so much better than what I’ve had in other Chinese restaurants. The broccoli was tender but still had a little bite to it and tasted really fresh.

I was less enthused by the beef soup noodles, described as “short ribs braised in a light, flavorful broth with warming spices. Served with daikon, fresh cilantro, scallions, and Chinese noodles topped with chili oil.” The noodles were excellent, and the dish looked beautiful. But it came with just three small pieces of beef, one of which was so fatty and tough at the same time that it was inedible. Even taking into account the delicious broth that came with it, it felt more like a noodle dish than a beef dish.

But don’t let that one disappointment keep you from supporting this place so it can make it through the pandemic and establish itself in the city’s restaurant scene. I predict that, when this is all over, Jing Yan will be just as busy as Lolita was before the restaurant world was turned upside down.

Comments are not available on this story.