Posts Tagged ‘vietnamese food’

Jasmine 26; A Step up from the Deli

Last night my best friend G and I took one of our girlfriends out for her birthday, named A. Being that A and I are both vegetarians we decided to try out a new vegetarian place, called Jasmine 26 in Minneapolis. Many people, especially foodies, have heard of Eat Street. Normal folks call it Nicollet, but for the foodies, it is Eat Street…the magical street that boosts every authentic and cultured meal known to Minneapolis. The diversity there is remarkable, from Vietnamese, Mexican, Greek, American, All Raw to Indian (and everything else in-between). Many people have experienced Jasmine Deli…which is owned by the same folks as Jasmine 26. Jasmine Deli, which I have reviewed before ( see post ‘Tofu Wars’) is a great little hole in the wall dive that has a great variety of authentic Vietnamese dishes as well as many vegetarian/vegan options. It literally can only seat 12 people-max, but people still come in droves to wait for a seat anyways. So Jasmine Deli decided to make a larger and more upscale version of their highly successful Deli, and there’s where Jasmine 26 comes in. Jasmine 26 is a beautiful restaurant nestled next to The Bad Waitress on the corner of 26th and Nicollet. The place is larger than it’s proceeder, is spacious and has a remarkably large and full bar guarded by a wall sized Buddha. Very cool!

G, A and I debated sitting outside on the cute wicker chairs and tables they have lining up outside their building but decided since it was over 90 degrees out, inside would be just fine. First dilemma to conquer? What to drink. They have a large and extensive menu of what I call “fancy” drinks, wines and beer. I settled on Sapporo, my fave Japanese beer (that’s brewed in Canada…strange? That will be a different blog…), A settled on a martini, and G got the interesting if not fascinating Frozen Bubble Tea. For anyone who has had Bubble tea, you know exactly why this concoction is strange. Frozen bubble tea? Frozen liqured bubble tea? Well G got it, and we all tried it. Excellente! G got the Mango version, but there’s also other flavors, including coconut. Yum! Yum!

Since we were fiendishly excited over too many options on the menu we all got an appetizer as well as a main dish. On the appetizer course we got the Coconut Cream Cheese Wontons, Sea Salt and Pepper Cube Tofu and Lettuce Wraps. Delicious, delicious, delicious. We were all amazed by the appetizers. So much that we ate almost all of them before I realized I hadn’t snapped any pictures! Opps. So that’s why my pictures show scantily clad plates of food…

The cream cheese wontons were definitely different…it had the familiar taste that we all know and love but then it had a little sweet coconut to it, and served with homemade pineapple sauce, it was perfection. The tofu. Omg. I know I always praise P.F Chang’s tofu as my favorite, but I think I found a new one. This appetizer of lightly fried tofu is a-mazing. G, isn’t even a fan of tofu and she was addicted to that stuff!  On the outside it has a little spicy kick, and flavored so delectably by salt and pepper; on the inside it is hot, soft and with less flavor (in this case it works out so, so well). The contrast between the very flavorful and crispy outside is great with the soft and less flavorful inside. It’s so good. I have been thinking about it all day. The lettuce wraps came out so beautifully wrapped. Seriously like little presents-they were wrapped with rice udon noodles, eggs, cucumbers, mints, bean sprouts and had little baby shrimp on the outside neatly tucked into the cilantro tying the package together. (Everything we got was vegetarian except the lettuce rolls, but you can easily take the shrimp off!)

Onto the main meal. G got the Pho (beef), I got the Vegetarian Pho and A got the Grilled Shrimp Coconut Milk Noodle Salad without the shrimp (she got mock duck instead). G thought her beef broth was good, sweeter than usual but still very delicious. It came out similar to most other places serving pho. Mine however was different, but this was expected. For anyone who doesn’t have Pho knowledge, it is the common Vietnamese soup that can be eaten literally for any meal. It is usually made of (beef) broth, flavored with onions, herbs, bean sprouts, lemon, lime, and is made with rice noodles and served with meat, tofu or mock duck. It is as common to the Asians and foodies, as it is the all American Chicken Noodle Soup. I have it when I’m sick, when I’m cold, when I’m tired, when I’m hungover and most definitely when I crave Vietnamese food. This was my first time ever having Pho that had broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots in it. Your first impression would be, “That’s wrong” and I wouldn’t correct you. It was wrong. I understand that I ordered the Veggie Pho…but I thought all would be replaced was my broth and meat. No, they added in other stuff too. I’m not saying it was bad, I’m just saying it was different and not in a way that I favor. The broth however was good, since I have had vegetarian Pho that has been downright bad before, so at least I can give them props on that. A also wasn’t too impressed with her meal, saying it lacked flavor. It’s described as “Grilled shrimp (in her case, mock duck) tossed in coconut milk with thick “udon-style” rice noodles, garnished with shredded lettuce, cucumber, herbs, cilantro, and a sprinkle of roasted peanuts. Served with house vinaigrette sauce.” Without the shrimp, shedidn’t have much of a coconut taste, so her noodle dish ended up being rather bland. She had to add a lot of hoisin sauce (which they called Ha Noi sauce here, so don’t be tricked) and chili pepper sauce to her dish to make it taste better.

In conclusion, we would probably rate it a B+.

The presentation was beautiful, the place was clean and gorgeous, the service was good, the appetizers had us drooling, our drinks were overall normal, and the main dishes were aiight. So, to round it off we gave them a great B+ and think that if they can improve on their main dishes, and maybe take the prices down a notch it would be a stellar A. Still, we have to be grateful for them to make such a nice, vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurant. Almost every single thing on the menu can be made vegetarinized.  Would we go there again? Totally, and next time you can join us! 😉

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