Tracy and I spent most of our weekend hanging out at home. We’ve thankfully found ourselves with a couple weeks off between spring and summer teaching terms. So what’s the first thing we do when we’ve got any free time on our hands? Eat out, of course! On Saturday, we were craving something fresh so we decided to hit our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Jasmine Garden at Shaw and Woodrow near Fresno State.
I ordered my old stand-by: the house special no.7, which is called kra-tiem prik tai. It’s a Thai black pepper and garlic dish with green onions, sauteed in a brown sauce and served over a bed of romaine lettuce. This day, I ordered it with chicken and at medium hot. (I’ve also had it with tofu and with beef, each good.) When you tell the folks at Jasmine Garden that you want medium hot, I’ve found that most of their dishes aren’t very hot. But with this particular dish, because of the combo of pepper and garlic, a medium hot order will set your mouth on fire for a while.
Tracy ordered the C2 chicken pho, a hearty noodle soup that’s pronounced kind of like “fuh” and is served with rice noodles, broth, and a selection of the diner’s fresh ingredients. Here, Jasmine Garden offered Tracy a bunch of possible additional fixin’s for her pho including mint, basil, bean sprouts, jalapeño peppers, and lemon. The broth included lettuce, green onion, pearl onion, and tons of slow-cooked spices.
A fair number of reviewers on Yelp and similar sites give Jasmine Garden a bad rap because their food is apparently more pan-Asian than it is pure Vietnamese. The owners, reportedly, are Hmong. But to me, that’s Fresno–a place where flavors and influences come together in unusual (and very American) ways. Hardcore pho enthusiasts in town would point to the central Fresno area roughly bounded by Clinton Avenue to the north, Fresno Street to the west, Olive Avenue to the south, and Chestnut Avenue to the east, where there are at least eight pho restaurants, as the best options to find the classic Vietnamese soup. But Tracy and I love the comfort of Jasmine Garden.
2633 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno, CA 93710