Harbored inside Yorktown Shopping Center in Falls Church, Jasmine Garden awaits. It is an Asian wonderland, serving Chinese, Thai and Malaysian cuisine. Once inside the door, a full bar, as well as a contemporary Sushi Bar, invites guests to come in and partake of its offerings. The music thumps overhead, as if the waitresses are waiting behind closed doors, ready to burst forth from the kitchen to strut their stuff along a cat walk, cloaked in Armani’s newest line. Butter yellow and red walls paired with dark wood furniture provide a striking contrast, while folded multi-colored napkins dot the tables and flutter in the breeze of passing patrons like festive butterflies, enriched by their dark wooden perches.
The varied menu is quite large, but starting with the sushi is an appealing option. The California Roll’s ($4.95) cucumber was crisp and avocado bright green, while the Spicy Tuna Roll ($4.95) supplied a nice kick and tender pink tuna. Offered as one of the specials, Crispy Duck stood out from the rest of the offered entrees. It arrived as slices of duck breast alongside the wing. The meat was a deep rose color and richly enhanced by the marinade it so readily absorbed. Crispy skin and little fat made this a unique tasting surprise.
Do not fear, all the dishes usually found in Chinese eateries are present, but the manager, Denny, suggested adventure by trying the more authentic Szechwan dishes listed on the Traditional Chinese Food Menu page. This is where the real jewels are to be mined.
The Handmade Noodle section ($7.95) listed dishes that featured noodles hand rolled by the chef on site. A selection of Shrimp and Chicken Noodle Soup from that list arrived in a large earthenware bowl big enough to feed a family of four. Chunks of white meat chicken and large shrimp, carrots, whole pea pods, baby corn, mushrooms and hand-rolled noodles made this soup more like a meal than a starter. It is best to pick one and share it with the table.
Denny’s advice paid off yet again, in the selection of the authentic Three Pepper Chicken ($11.95). Although he Americanized the dish a bit by omitting a certain type of pepper he says “numbs your mouth.” That was fine with me, a numb mouth and less taste was the last thing I wanted. When a dish is spicy, it should burst with complimenting flavors, not scorch your mouth. When the plate arrived, laden with small red, dried peppers and green jalapeños, it was simply addictive. A concoction of this type inspires cravings that pop up weeks after first enjoying the dish. I found myself eating it with abandon.
Orange slices and fortune cookies followed the meal, but desserts were waiting to be sampled. Tiramisu Cake, Cappuccino Mouse Cake, Cheesecake, Green Tea Ice Cream and Red Bean Ice Cream were listed on a small board inside the restaurant. Surprisingly, the most popular dessert was the Tiramisu Cake ($5). An Italian dessert in an Asian world was slightly disconcerting, but the cake arrived moist and the coffee spiked, decorated with whimsical swirls of whipped cream. A pleasing finish, the creamy cake also helped to quell the slight burning of peppers still palpable on my lips.
The last sip of Jasmine tea made a final impression. As the pot and cups disappeared, the warm liquid, so deeply infused with the sweet fragrance of Jasmine, lingered in the air. If you eat in or choose to take your meal away with you, be sure to request one of those small teabags be included. The flowery aroma, hinting of summer on these brisk autumn evenings, makes the meal balanced and complete.
8106 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, VA 22042
Hours: Mon. – Thurs.:11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Fri. & Sat.: 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sun.: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.