Inhale when you eat at Thai Jasmine Rice. Inhale deeply. Nearly every dish, from soup humming with the buzz of galangal root to drunken noodles in oyster sauce to Paneang curry and stir-fried vegetables with aromatic jasmine rice, is exciting to smell before it’s thrilling to taste. Thai menus tend to be broad in any case, perhaps more so in the U.S., where Asian food has a long history of getting hyphenated. So here at Thai Jasmine Rice, you will find familiar spring rolls and wonton soup. But those are simply tokens; in fact, the kitchen’s A-game stars curries, stir-fries, and noodles thin and thick.
The signature noodle dish, pad Thai, is available with chicken, pork, beef, tofu, or shrimp. It’s mild unless you ask the kitchen to spice it up — a happy melange of small rice noodles stirred together with eggs, bean sprouts, scallions and sweet pad Thai sauce. This is exotic comfort food, presented on a plate along with a spill of finely chopped peanuts and a single spring roll with sweet and sour sauce. Sie Ew, made with broad rice noodles, is less sweet and more soy-sauce salty than Pad Thai, chock full of al dente broccoli and carrots.
I am a big fan of this kitchen’s soups and curries, many of which offer a beguiling teeter-totter taste that balances velvety coconut milk with zesty spices, shots of lime juice, and nose-tingling measures of ginger.
Vegetarians can have a ball. Our meat-frowner friend loves the well-rounded fried rice “fantasy” of onions, peas, carrots, broccoli, scallions, and cashews all mixed up with fragrant jasmine rice. We like it, too, but the kitchen’s ways with beef, pork, and duck are too good to ignore.
(PS: Yes, I know that Roadfood is about restaurants that have distinct local or regional character. Thai Jasmine Rice does not fit that definition … unless you factor in the cognitive dissonance of being served Asian food by a staff with Deep-South accents.)