Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, October 10, 2002
Thai Jasmine
Whisky Beef 5.95
Panang curry chicken 7.95
Pad Thai 8.95
Sweet rice with mango 3.50
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Island Oasis

Thai Jasmine is a calm spot in bustling Bedford.

By SHELLY SANDERS

Thai Jasmine

3104 Harwood Rd, Bedford. 817-858-0555. 11am-2:30pm Mon-Fri, 5-10pm Fri, noon-10pm Sat, 5-10pm Sun. No bar. AE, D, V.

hai Jasmine offers a haven from faster and more sterile fare by placing you in the presence of clean blue tablecloths, rich decorative wall hangings, and pink lotus blossoms that float lazily in water globes. And it’s hidden in the last place you would look: next to a grocery store and a fast-food joint, in a bland suburban shopping center.

Thai Jasmine, a three-month-old addition to Bedford’s Harwood Shopping Center, is a modest little restaurant that harmonizes the piquant tastes of Thailand with elegant simplicity. The service is excellent, and the entrées are even better.

Like many other Asian restaurants, Thai Jasmine is a place where diners like me, self-conscious about foreign pronunciations, can order by number. I can’t help but feel as if I’m playing a game of Battleship, where the correct combination of numbers and letters can sink a plastic destroyer. A brief scene:

“What do you suggest?” I ask our waitress as my guests and I contemplate appetizers.

“A4,” she replies. We all study our menus for a moment, as if calculating our next plan of attack. My left eyebrow rises slowly, deliberately.

“Sounds good,” I say. “A6, too.”

“A6?”

“And then B3, please.”

So. My guests and I started off with A4, tod mon, fried fish cakes marinated in red curry, served with sweet-and-sour cucumber sauce and a tiny triangular wedge of cucumber garnish. Our waitress recommended them, but unfortunately, they weren’t flavorful or crispy enough to live up to our expectations. I could hardly get a fork in them to see what was inside, and they left me with a bland, greasy aftertaste.

Saving the appetizers, however, was A6, Whisky Beef, beef marinated in garlic sauce and served with a tastebud-roasting hot-and-sour sauce. Thai Jasmine loaded the plate with 3-inch jerky-like pieces — nothing exotic, a little chewy, yet full of incredible kick. My dinner partners and I cleaned the plate.

A small-sized B3 was a huge steaming portion of chicken coconut soup (and a steal at $3.95). It was loaded with tender chicken in a silky coconut broth with mushrooms, lemon grass (of which Thai Jasmine seems to be very fond), and a hint of lemon juice. The broth was a little too sweet for my taste, but a splash of curry made the chicken explode in flavors. This is a seriously hearty soup and will be wonderful as a meal during the winter. In this heat, however, diners might also want to try the traditional spicy-papaya or beef salads.

After deliberating over the more than 20 main courses and noodle dishes, one of my guests picked F1 — pad Thai — made of rice-flour noodles, pan-fried with an exhausting variety of ingredients including shrimp, chicken, tofu, bean sprouts, green onion, peanuts, cilantro, and brown sugar. The pad Thai at Thai Jasmine is a safe yet scrumptious dish for those new to the Thai world. This diner is a very picky eater, and he devoured it.

I ordered Basil Leaves Spicy (D6 in your play book), your choice of chicken, beef, or pork (I chose beef) — with chili, garlic, soy sauce, fresh red and green peppers, and snow peas served with a conical tower of sticky rice. It had all the fire-breathing, nose-running, palate-scorching delivery I’ve only dreamed of at other Thai restaurants, yet with an aggressive meaty flavor as well.

The D2 panang curry was also delicious, ordered with sliced chicken in a Thai red curry and coconut milk sauce. With Thai Jasmine’s spicy dishes, diners can indicate a choice of heat level — spicy, hot, or very hot. I was a little disappointed Thai Jasmine didn’t also offer degrees of spiciness. As it turned out, “spicy” was all this Texan could handle.

For dessert we all shared the Black Sticky Rice Pudding and the sweet rice with mango. Both were quite tasty, especially the latter. The mango melted in the mouth, cooling the fires of dinner, and leaving most of us (except the guy who suggested Baskin Robbins afterward) satiated. There’s nothing on the menu that costs more than $10, and each dish was served with a beautiful arrangement of lettuce, carrots, sprouts, and a carved radish. What more can you ask for?


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