What is it with LA Thai restaurants? Why is it that seemingly every strip-mall hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant serves spectacular cuisine, while many Thai restaurants in the Bay Area struggle to rise above mediocrity? Whatever it is in the southern California area that inspires Thai cooks, it’s alive and kicking at Jasmine Thai Cuisine. We went there for dinner last Saturday night (June 2014), and had a simply delicious meal.
Jasmine Thai is a 2-restaurant chain in the west San Fernando Valley. We visited the Winnetka branch because it got better slightly better Yelp reviews. The restaurant is cute and well decorated, but it can’t quite escape its strip-mall architecture. Fortunately, the prices match the casual surroundings with most entrees priced at a downright cheap (at least by Bay Area standards) $8.
We started by sharing an order of beef satay ($8). The order came with six sticks, which was great as there were three of us. The beef was very nicely marinated, and had a very strong flavor. The peanut sauce was standard, which is nothing to complain about. The dish was beautifully presented in a plate that came with a small iron heater of some kind with a pretty significant flame. I’m not sure if it was there just for decoration, but we did enjoy putting our meat in the flame. I hadn’t seen this before, and enjoyed it. I know my girls would have loved it.
We followed this with the cashew nut chicken ($8), panang curry with beef ($8) and curry duck ($11). The cashew nut chicken was fine, though perhaps not as interesting as one might have liked. Kathy did like the sauce quite a bit, though. The two curries, however, were outstanding. the panang was perfect, flavorful, deep, complex, and yet very much a panang curry. The sliced beef had probably been sauteed separately and then added to it, so it wasn’t the star of the dish, but it was good enough. It was the sauce, however, what really shined.
The duck curry was similar, albeit a bit fruitier and sweeter, probably from the pineapple chunks it came with. It was also delicious. The duck, a hard meat to get right, was well cooked, not too fatty (but it’s duck), and went very well with the sauce. Both curries are noted in the menu as being spicy. We asked for them as mild as possible, and our tongues still burned a little bit.
The portions were all quite generous. We had leftover of both curries to bring home (which my husband got to enjoy fully). Where they did skimp was in the rice ($1.50 per person). We probably could have used more at the table and had none to take home. Next time, I’ll order an extra portion.
Both my dad and I had strawberry smoothies ($3.25) with our dinner, and they were OK. They basically tasted like strawberry daiquiris without the rum. I don’t think I’d order them again.
Despite how good the food was, there are a few minuses to Jasmine. First, the menu doesn’t include some Thai favorites like pra ram chicken and massaman beef. Second, they don’t serve alcohol – not even beers to wash down the spice. Finally, the service could have been more attentive. We were done for a while before anyone noticed we needed the bill. The dinner for three came to close to $60 after tax and tip.
Jasmine Thai Cuisine
20156 Roscoe Blvd.
M-Su 11am – 10:30pm