Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I had heard good things about Jasmine Provincial Restaurant, which is located next door to Vieng Thong just north of Franklin Highschool. The dining experience started off with some mystery and promise... attention had been given to the atmosphere of the restaurant, starting with a large puppy shaped humidifier spewing a constant stream of steam from the bartop and ending with a very classy grand piano laying in wait on its own special stage.

There were other details, nice tableware, a white paper table cloth whisked on clean before the meal and whisked off embarrassingly splattered after the meal, that reminded me very much of Tamarind Tree. Unlike the Tamarind Tree, however, there was an element of weird in the feel of the place. It was perhaps exacerbated by the brightness of our long spring evenings.

We ordered the lemongrass tofu vermicelli bowl, and an unusual vegetarian soup that was amongst the more expensive items on the menu.

While we waited for our food, listening to the Musak, sitting deep in the laps of our vinyl arm chairs, my dining companion made the note, "I'm not digging the smell of the wall."

I leaned out of my chair and pressed my face against the wall and sniffed... from his seat, he had an overwhelming odor of mildew that his honed detective sense determined as wall-origin. It wasn't so bad from my seat, but the seed had been planted in our impressionable little minds that something smelled off, and our appetites began to wane.

The Lemongrass tofu arrived long before the soup, and its hearty garlicy smell made a good attempt at overtaking the wall.
It was tasty Vermicelli bowl, with all of the usual delicious stuff... grilled tofu in a savory spicy lemongrass sauce, herbs, lettuce, cucumber, peanuts, noodles and a vegetarian sauce to pour over it. No complaints.

Next came my soup. Even though I had been warned by the very nice waitress, it was still a little bit strange to see this in it:
It was a vegetarian shrimp, handmade, according to the waitress, at the restaurant out of tofu. Of course it didn't taste like shrimp, but it had a springy pop when bitten into that my shrimp-eatin' dining companion said was quite remarkably realistic.

The soup had some other unusual stuff in it, including long pieces of spongy Bac Ha, full rounds of pineapples, and whole okra pods. The broth had a sweet tangy pineapple garlic flavour. Given the price and time it took to arrive relative to the rest of the meal, the homemade vegetarian Shrimp are a complex item to create.
We were lucky enough to be present for the music to switch over from the speakers to the Piano, but unfortunately the regular pianist wasn't there. The understudy played a soothing mix that made me feel just a little bit like I was in Nordstrom in the 1980s.

All in all it was an interesting evening, but I'm not quite in the large group of devoted admirers yet. The hesitation probably comes in part from my inability to really get in there and try the (non-vegetarian) specialties, and quite possibly in part from the situation with the wall. Also, I can image that dining when it was dark outside might make the place feel a little bit more pleasing to my aesthetic. On the upside, the staff were notably nice and helpful.

Jasmine Provincial Restaurant
(206) 722-3225
2822 Martin Luther King Jr Way S
Seattle, WA 98144

Jasmine Provincial Vietnamese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

No comments: