Erin arranged to have dinner with Ryan and Corlissa last Thursday night. We ended up going to Jasmine 26, at 26th & Nicollet. Without knowing exactly where the restaurant was, I grabbed an open parking spot on Nicollet which was luckily only a block away. (I didn't want to pay $13.50 again!)
As we sat down, Ryan told us that they had Surly Bender on tap, in addition to the rest of the beers on the menu. I looked over the list and nothing called out to me, so I opted for the Bender. Our server came back a minute later and apologized, saying that they didn't actually have the Bender, it was instead Surly Furious. No apologies necessary :)
The water glasses at Jasmine 26 are tall and heavy, so when I grabbed my beer I was a little surprised at how light it seemed. I figured I was just used to the weight of the water glass and forgot about it. Throughout dinner though, I couldn't help but feel like the beer glass was NOT a real pint glass and Erin agreed. I didn't ask the server, but I have a strong suspicion that they have miniature pint glasses, maybe 12 oz. Also, there was a head of about 1.5 inches on the beer, further reducing the amount of beer I was getting. This turned out to be the only negative of the meal.
Erin and I ordered the lettuce rolls as an appetizer - these are kind of like spring rolls except they are wrapped in lettuce and tied with cilantro, I thought they were kind of cool, but a little hard to eat without looking like a fool, everything kind of falls apart as you bite in. For my entree, I was drawn to the spicy eggplant stir fry in the 'Specialty Dishes' section of the menu. I was thinking of going for the pad thai, but that seemed like a cop-out; I'm at a new place and I should try something I haven't had before.
The stir fry was excellent and big enough for lunch the next day, which seems typical of the Asian places we've been going to. We've either been splitting an entree (Tum Rup Thai), or I get another meal out of it. Although the stir fry was called 'spicy', I wouldn't have guessed it. It had a great flavor, but it didn't bite back like I would expect a spicy dish would. I also tried some of Erin's crepe, which I thought looked like a huge omelet. It was good, but I would like it to have more meat, it was mostly bean sprouts inside.
I liked Jasmine 26, but there was nothing that would make me go back before trying other Vietnamese restaurants around town.
- Service: We had good service, it probably helped that it wasn't very busy when we were there.
- Food: My stir fry was great and the portions were large.
- Drinks: Small pint glasses make you feel like you're getting cheated. The bar looked like a cool place to hang out.
- Ambiance: I've read other reviews of Jasmine 26 when people said it was full of people. It was a little slow when we went, but I can picture the restaurant having a nice din to it when packed in on a weekend.
- Price: Good prices, $12 for my entree that got me two meals. Beer was $5.
- Convenience: We found a spot on Nicollet to park but I would guess it'd be a little more difficult on a weekend. Plenty of buses go down there too.
My friend Ryan suggested that we join him and his girlfriend for a double date last week first because he enjoys our company, and second (and probably most importantly) because he wanted to be featured on the blog :) I told him to choose any place on the list. His choice (after one rejection from me) was jasmine 26. Sounded fine to me!
We arrived at 7:30 and the restaurant was pretty empty. I had perused the menu on the website earlier that day, but still had no clue what to order. Ryan had gotten a Thai beer (or so he said) that was pretty good, so I ordered that right away. It took us all a good long time to decide what to get because the menu is pretty extensive. The server was very friendly and attentive throughout the evening.
The lettuce wraps were chosen by Ben as an appetizer. They were pretty good, but my preference is usually toward fried appetizers. I chose the Jasmine Crepe for my entree. The "crispy tumeric coconut crepe" tasted great, and was filled mostly with bean sprouts with a little bit of pork and shrimp. I wasn't even that hungry but I ended up eating pretty much the whole thing, so it wasn't super filling. This was exactly what I wanted for my entree, but be forewarned that if you are super hungry you might want to choose a different dish.
Ryan and Corlissa both liked their entrees. I believe they each got some variety of fried rice. Ryan commented several times that his tasted faintly like ketchup, but in a good way. So take that for what it's worth :)
The atmosphere of jasmine 26 was nice - I liked the decor and lighting. It was very date-like, which is in contrast to many of the other Vietnamese places on Nicollet. The food at some of the other places may be better (I personally liked Quang better, but I'm not exactly a connoisseur of Vietnamese food...). However, if you want to enjoy an adult beverage with your meal in a well-decorated and nicely lit room, this is a good choice. I would compare jasmine 26 to Ngon Bistro in St. Paul.
8 E 26th St
Recommended for the atmosphere