Jasmine Thai & Sushi – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Jasmine Thai & Sushi

Sometimes the most delicate and beautiful things in nature are spawned in conditions that are wholly antithetical to their survival. The delightfully fragrant jasmine flower, for example, is thought to have originated in the Himalayas, a mountainous region prone to extremely harsh weather.  The jasmine’s delicate star-shaped flowers yield a light and sweet fragrance tinged with a hint of the tropics and strongly evocative of the exotic locations in which the flower is most popular. The jasmine is as beloved among emperors, kings and sultans as it is among people of the common clay.

Jasmine flowers are worn on the hair of women in Thailand where the flower symbolizes motherhood. Brewed and consumed daily in teas throughout Southeast Asia, jasmine is thought to be effective in the prevention of certain cancers.  With mild analgesic and antiseptic properties, it is used to treat some respiratory disorders and to help sufferers overcome muscular discomfort. It is even thought to help ward off depression and anxiety thanks to its emotionally uplifting beauty.

Combination appetizer plate
Combination appetizer plate

High expectations are in order when a restaurant has a name like Jasmine Thai. Diners might expect that the restaurant be pleasing to the eye and that aromas emanating from the kitchen titillate the olfactory senses. This restaurant does not disappoint in either count.  Clustered among several restaurants in the 25 The Way retail and professional district, Jasmine Thai launched in late June, 2007 in a space vacated by the Owl Cafe. As of August its exterior signage had not yet been finished.

Jasmine Thai has a storied culinary heritage. Its owners once also owned the Bangkok Cafe when, during its halcyon days, it was named one of Albuquerque’s twelve best restaurants by the Albuquerque Journal.  At the very least Jasmine Thai is one of the city’s most attractive Asian restaurants. Framed paintings of various flowers hang from multi-hued walls while beautiful silk flowers peek out of ornate vases. An entire section of the restaurant is dedicated to the royal family of Thailand. There is much to please the eye.

Crunchy shrimp roll
Crunchy shrimp roll

A relatively small sushi bar prefaces the kitchen. The number of Asian restaurants other than Japanese serving sushi continues to increase and Jasmine Thai entered the fray, too.  The sushi menu is relatively limited with all the requisite maki rolls, hand rolls, nigiri sushi, sashimi and vegetable rolls many sushi restaurants seem to serve including the de rigueur maki roll stuffed with New Mexico green chile.  If the crunchy shrimp roll is any indication, Jasmine Thai & Sushi House won’t be competing for acclaim as one of the city’s best purveyors of sushi. While the tempura battered shrimp was fine, the rice disintegrates when introduced into a mixture of wasabi and soy sauce. Spooning sushi out of that mixture will detract from anyone’s appreciation.

Note:   As has been astutely pointed out to me, sushi etiquette dictates that you dip maki rolls into soy sauce fish side up.  Rice easily absorbs soy sauce and it’s only natural that it would crumble.

All dishes can be made to your liking–mild, medium or hot and all but noodle dishes are served with a side of rice. It’s absolutely no surprise that the restaurant uses only top-grade Jasmine rice from Thailand, a long-grain variety of rice renown for its nutty aroma and subtle flavor.

Mango Chicken
Mango Chicken

A dozen appetizers include some not found in other Thai restaurants in the Duke City. That includes squid strips, ten deep-fried squid strips served with a side of spicy sweet and sour peanut sauce. The squid strips are lightly battered. crispy and just a bit salty.

A combination appetizer sampler will give you the opportunity to try several of the restaurant’s pre-prandial treats. These include two Thai spring rolls (stuffed with ground chicken, cabbage, silver noodles and carrots), four Thai meatballs and two shrimp all served with a side of sweet and sour peanut sauce.  Though the ground chicken is parsimoniously apportioned, the spring rolls are crispy and full of flavor. The wrapper is crispy and not at all greasy.  The Thai meatballs are grilled on skewers and have a texture unlike any Italian or Swiss meatball you’ve ever had. The texture is, in fact, more similar to that of a sausage only even less grainy. Still, the meatballs are more than just interesting; they are quite delicious, too.

Thai fried rice
Thai fried rice

Wok-fried dishes, some tempting enough to pry me away from curry, occupy a prominent section of the menu. One of those dishes is Mango Chicken, an entree I last had at a Vietnamese restaurant in Denver.  The best mango chicken provides a marriage of sweet, tangy and savory flavors with no one taste sensation overwhelming the others. Jasmine Thai prepares an excellent mango chicken.  Served steaming hot in a beautifully shaped bowl, it features mango that hasn’t quite ripened to the level of dessert sweetness, leaving it more lip-pursing tangy than sweet. The chicken is lean and tender with none of the annoying dark, sinewy pieces other restaurants serve. The carrots are fresh and crispy.

Jasmine’s Thai Fried Rice is perfectly prepared with an enticing fragrance and nutty taste characterizing the best and most expensive rice dishes. It is prepared with your choice of chicken, pork or beef, egg, sliced celery and yellow onions. The yellow onions are grilled and delicious!

Mangoes and sticky rice
Mangoes and sticky rice

When my Kim ordered Moo Tod, my first reaction was “boring.” Moo Tod sounds like little more than breaded pork chops, but when prepared well, those pork chops are highly flavorful.  At Jasmine Thai, an order of Moo Tod means six pieces of tender pork marinated in a garlic-pepper sauce then wok-fried and served with a side of sweet and sour peanut sauce. The pork is almost fork-tender and the sauce subtle and delicious. In fact, forget all about the peanut sauce which is almost cloying in its sweetness.

Save the sweetness for dessert where mangoes and sticky rice are available. There are few desserts quite as refreshing as mangoes in season bathed in sweet coconut milk. This dessert evokes the sensation of a sweltering, carefree summer day.

Jasmine Thai & Sushi House has the culinary pedigree to succeed in a growing Thai restaurant market. It has the menu that promises to bring in diners for repeated visits.

Jasmine Thai And Sushi
4320 The Way, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 4 August 2007
COST: $$$
BEST BET: Combination Appetizers, Mango Chicken, Moo Tod, Mangoes and Sticky Rice, Crunchy Shrimp Roll


5 thoughts on “Jasmine Thai & Sushi – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

  1. You should consider visiting Jasmine Thai again at I-25 the Way. It has gotten even better. We were there last night for #20, #53s and Moo Tod. All EXCEPTIONALLY flavorful. And now there are multi-colored silk painted umbrellas hanging from the rafters. Thanks!

  2. The Thai was just alrightfor me, and the sushi was not so good. The tuna wasn’t the beautful pink kind you would find at Nodas, but instead it was opaque and smelled fishy.

  3. min… while I tend to agree with you that mixing culinary styles can be not only confusing, perhaps conflicting, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not trying Jasmine Thai. I had curry mussells the other day on my first visit to the establishment. Immediately it imprinted the one reason I will return… to sate a new found craving!

  4. Will you like to go for a resturant called “Euro French Italian Resturant”? I would say no. So why go to a resturant claim to be great at Thai and Sushi? It’s an insult to both kinds. My Japanese friend always shake his head everytime he sees one of those combo resturants. ME TOO.

  5. Dear Gil,

    Jasmine was excellent in every way, thank you for the recommendation. However, your comment about the sushi roll falling apart is something that you may misunderstand; Traditionally, a bite from a sushi roll is not to be dunked in a pool of soy sauce (for the very reason that it will most likely fall apart, and for taste reasons. Dipping a sushi roll bite is an Americanized method of consumption. Rolls are meant to be eaten as they are presented. It seems unfair to judge the quality of a resaurants sushi and sushi chef on an uninformed decision.

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