23 October 2009

KwikPick: Family dinner at Jasmine 26, Minneapolis

We had (almost) our whole family home last weekend. Only my son-in-law in Chicago couldn't be here. So for dinner on Saturday, we wanted to pick someplace casual and kid-friendly. We thought of a few old standbys, but finally decided on someplace new – Jasmine 26 on Eat Street in Minneapolis.

Food: 4
Service: 3
Ambiance: 3
Value: 3

It's been a long time since I've eaten Vietnamese cuisine. I do really like it, and the food served at Jasmine 26 is pretty good. With our group of five adults and one child, we ordered a nice selection. The only trouble is, the style of dishes (at least those that we ordered) did not lend themselves to sharing, which is usually part of the fun of eating at an Asian restaurant.

For example, I had red peanut curry with roasted duck, eggplant, bamboo shoots, bell peppers and sweet potato. It was excellent. But, the way it was served, you spoon some rice into a small bowl and then spoon some of the curry over the rice. The curry has a lot of liquid, almost more like a stew. So that made it difficult to share. By the way, it was delightfully spicy. Just enough heat to make it interesting.

My son and his wife both had soups. (My wife has had soup at Jasmine 26 before, for lunch. I think it's kind of a specialty.) They both liked their meals, but again, pretty hard to share soup.

My wife's dish was quite interesting. She had the seafood crispy noodle, which was a variety of seafood sauteed in a light garlic sauce and served in a bowl formed from crispy noodles. I did taste that, and it was good. She liked how the sauce softened the noodles on the bottom of the plate so that there were an interesting variety of textures as she ate the dish.

My daughter's meal also was interesting. She had grilled shrimp tossed in coconut milk with thick rice noodles, garnished with shredded lettuce, cucumber, herbs. I took a taste of that and liked it, though my wife's crispy noodle meal was more interesting.

I guess I'm kinda working backwards on this meal. We actually started with an order of spring rolls and coconut cream cheese wonton. I liked the wonton better than the spring roll, though others at the table raved over the spring roll. And my granddaughter had the chicken satay appetizer as her meal.

Recommendation: As I look back over this review, I notice that the most common adjective that I used was interesting. So I guess I would recommend Jasmine 26 if you're looking for an interesting meal – maybe a little unusual from the usual Asian, good flavors, quality ingredients, well prepared.

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