I am absolutely attracted to the weird and unique, particularly when it comes to eating international cuisine. I prefer to sample something like duck tongues or hot pot from an authentic Chinese place rather than sweet and sour chicken or “krab” salad. Because of this proclivity, when my friend Melinda told me about Jasmine Chinese Cuisine, at 13825 English Villa Drive, I was ready to get weird. I wanted to try everything on their very large menu, including hot n' spicy intestines, kidney, pig ear, and rabbit. I was not disappointed by the food at Jasmine's, though the service was less than ideal.
I began my journey with the pig ear appetizer. If you can get past the texture of the pig ear, which some people find off-putting (it's a little cartilage-y, for want of a better term) you can savor the unique taste of the sesame oil pig ear, shredded and spicy. Pig ear in sesame oil ($5.99) isn't really for the faint of heart, but if you give it a shot you're going to be glad. The crab rangoon ($4.99), was a little too sweet for my friend's taste, but came beautifully plated.
Melinda got a pork kidney ($9.99), which I did not like. I usually don't enjoy organ meat, but if you're one for chicken livers, the sauteed kidney would probably be amazing. Jasmine was out of duck tongue, so I settled for Octopus homestyle ($10.99), served in a savory sauce with mushrooms and veggies. The Octopus rings were tender and fresh tasting, with a texture somewhere between trout and scallops. I ate every bite of the very large dinner portion and could have eaten more.
Now, the service at Jasmine's was very slow, and we had some trouble getting our checks on time, but the food was well worth it. For an adventurous date, or just some wonderful Chinese beyond traditional takeout, I would unequivocally recommend Jasmine.
photos: Elizabeth Orrick and Kathleen Quinn