Thursday, July 05, 2007
Quick review: Red Jasmine
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Eric Brady | The Roanoke Times
Red Jasmine Thai Cuisine
- Where: 210 S. Pollard St., Vinton
- Prices: Lunch: $5-$9; Dinner: $6-$13
- Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (lunch) and 4 to 9 p.m. (dinner) Sunday through Thursday;11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
- Alcohol? Beer, wine and cocktails
- Plastic? MasterCard, Visa and American Express
- Smoking? No
- Takeout? Yes
- Delivery? No
- Patio seating? No
- Reservations? Accepted, but not required
- Live music? No
- Kid-friendly? Yes, but no separate kid’s menu. High chairs available.
- Call: (540) 345-1165
- Fax: 345-2205
- Net: redjasmine.net
Thai food in Vinton? As of April, that question can now be answered enthusiastically and affirmatively with the opening of Red Jasmine Thai Cuisine at the former Cafe Succotash location in downtown Vinton. I recently ate there with some friends (one of whom actually lived in Thailand for a year) and came away impressed with the freshness, presentation and variety of the offerings.
Red Jasmine's decor is colorful and clean with a distinctly Asian flair including orange walls, bamboo tables and ornamental elephants on display.
We started with two appetizers: chicken satay and Thai dumplings (both $5.95). For those not entirely acquainted with Thai cuisine, I urge you to consider that chicken satay is simply marinated chicken grilled on skewers served with peanut sauce. Any cuisine that serves meat on a stick passes muster in my book. The steamed dumplings filled with herbed shrimp, pork and water chestnuts were, like the satay, delicious.
Determined to break free from my comfort zone, I opted for a dish called Thai Honey instead of my usual Pad Thai, a dish typically consisting of stir-fried rice noodles with red pepper, egg, bean sprouts, assorted vegetables, ground peanuts and a choice of meat. The Thai Honey included a tasty blend of shrimp and scallops stir-fried with asparagus, red pepper, acorn squash, string beans and onions; it was extremely fresh with crisp vegetables and a moderately spicy house sauce. Like most entrees, this dish was accompanied by jasmine rice and contained more shrimp and scallops than I expected for the very reasonable price ($12.95).
My dining companion who once lived in Thailand ordered the larb kai ($8.95), a mixture of ground chicken and Thai hot-and-sour sauce with onions, lettuce, lemongrass and scallions. He said that although it tasted good, he had eaten better versions of the dish in other stateside restaurants. He also commented that the menu did not offer some of the more common "everyday" dishes one would expect to find in native Thai cuisine.
Nonetheless, Red Jasmine does offer a large variety of specialty, curry and noodle dishes. The menu includes a meat-and-vegetable section where you can choose beef, pork, chicken, tofu, duck, shrimp or scallops and select the vegetables and accompanying sauce. The duck choice is a standout.
My other friend chose the Thai silk noodles ($9.95) stir-fried with shrimp, squid, mussels, red pepper, bean sprouts, scallion and spicy sauce. He complimented the generous portion of seafood and, like my dish, enjoyed the freshness of the vegetables.
A general note about Thai cuisine -- it can be spicy. The menu indicates spicy dishes by labeling spicy dishes with one, two or three red chilies, and the chef will modify the spice level of any dish upon request.
The service at Red Jasmine was prompt, efficient and attentive as it should be, since we were the only customers in the restaurant except for a couple who arrived as we were leaving. Our waiter attributed the scarcity of diners to the fact they have been open only a short time. The cynic in me might blame the lackluster attendance to the fact that they had not yet gotten their license to sell alcoholic beverages, though they've received it since our visit.