Jasmine Thai & Vegetarian Restaurant
916 S Cooper Street
When Satchel was first born and Jasmine was way out on Covington Pike, we drove out there at least once a month to eat dinner. Ms. Fong, the owner, and her three grown children, the waitrons, LOVE kids. One of them would literally hold Satchel the entire time we ate THE BEST THAI FOOD EVER. It was a new mother’s dream come true.
On every visit I would say, “When are you moving to Midtown?” I imagined that if they were closer, I would eat there once a week, if not more.
Amazingly enough, Jasmine did eventually close up shop in Bartlett and move to Midtown, less than a mile away from my house, when Satchel was about two…and Jiro was a newborn. However, when Satchel was two and Jiro was a newborn, I didn’t go to too many restaurants. Also, Jasmine’s new location was a lot fancier than the previous one, and I worried that the monkeys might not be on their best behavior and if so, that the Fongs might think less of me. (I really wanted the Fongs to like me as much as I liked them.)
Once Jiro got a little older, I once again became a regular at Jasmine, but on my monkey-free workday lunch breaks and occasional monkey-free “dates” with Warren. On each and every visit, Ms. Fong would ask about the kids and encourage me to bring them in. I always said I would, but never did until a few weeks ago.
It was a rainy Wednesday evening and Warren spent his usual “dinner prep time” laboriously sanding the boards for the monkeys’ new bunk bed. I couldn’t come up with anything to cook on my own, so taking advantage of Warren’s weakened state once he was finished, I suggested we go to Jasmine.
“Do you really think that is a good idea?” he protested. “What if the kids go crazy in there?”
“It’s a rainy Wednesday night at 8:00pm, surely they won’t be too crowded,” I tried.
I turned to the monkeys. “Can you guys be on your very best behavior?”
“Come on,” I said to Warren. “They’re really hungry, so it should be okay.”
Finally, he gave in and soon we were walking through the doors of my all-time favorite restaurant. There were only a couple of tables that were full and the monkeys seemed pretty subdued. An unfamiliar waitress seated us and I asked her to let Ms. Fong know we were there.
Once seated, Ms. Fong came out and enthusiastically greeted us. Both monkeys did their “shy” act, but she didn’t care. She was thrilled to finally have us all in attendance.
I quickly ordered some egg drop soup for Satchel (his favorite), some hot & sour soup for myself, and a couple of egg rolls for us all to share. Warren ordered his standard hot tea. Then we perused the menu and debated what we should order. Most of the dishes we like are too spicy for the kids and since there’s no kids menu, we tried to find something that they would like that wouldn’t be too expensive. Warren was pushing for fried rice; I suggested chicken and broccoli stir fry. Or something with tofu. Finally we agreed on Chicken Satay, an appetizer. Then Warren decided on a yellow chicken curry dish and I ordered one of my stand-bys: Laap Neu a spicy beef dish with tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and lime. They both come with white rice, which the monkeys love, so we knew we would at least have that for them to eat if all else failed.
The soups and eggrolls came right out. Satchel was thrilled with his soup, but I couldn’t convince Jiro to eat an egg roll after his first bite was “too hot.” More for me! He showed a little interest in Satchel’s soup, but soon decided he’d rather draw Ben 10 figures on a piece of paper than eat anything.
Ms. Fong came over and chatted with us at length and was obviously gaga over the monkeys—especially Jiro. “He’s so cute,” she cooed. They eventually warmed up to her and let the charming side of their personalities show as they answered her questions and showed off their drawings. I was thrilled.
Our entrees were delicious as always—Warren even commented on how much he liked the Laap Neu, which he usually isn’t too thrilled about. (It reminds him of my early attempts to recreate this dish when we first married—waaay back when I was still allowed in the kitchen.) The Chicken Satay, despite being an appetizer, was very hearty and Satchel had way more than he could eat. (Chicken Satay is marinated chicken on a stick and comes with a spicy peanut dipping sauce.) Jiro had a few bites of chicken and a bowl of rice with soy sauce before returning to his drawing.
Warren and I took our time and devoured every bit of food on the table. Satchel got a bit antsy while this was going on and joined Jiro on my side of the booth to draw. (Luckily I had a copy of the latest wftda rules in my purse, which allowed them to each have several sheets of paper.)
Ms. Fong knew I wouldn’t leave without dessert and asked if I wanted an order of Mango Sticky Rice.
“Yes!” I enthusiastically answered. I turned to the monkeys and said, “Now you are in for a real treat.”
Mango sticky rice is a simple dish—fresh sliced mango served with warm sticky rice that has been sweetened with coconut milk. Ms. Fong gets the absolute best mangos from Houston, I think. When it came out, the monkeys each took a small bite. Then another. And another. And so on until it was gone. I was really happy to discover that they liked it as much as I did.
As we were paying up Satchel started raving about how much he liked the restaurant. “This restaurant has really yummy food,” he said.
“This is my favorite restaurant,” I said.
“Mine too!” he agreed.
Then just to be obnoxious, I said, “Whenever we ask you where you want to go to dinner, say ‘Jasmine.’”
“Okay!” he exclaimed.
Warren rolled his eyes at me.
Of course, if we did this, I'd be in big trouble. The meal cost about twice, maybe three times, as much as a fast food or Mexican restaurant, but I think it was worth every penny.
Sidenote: The next day at home Satchel and I got into a discussion about giving Jiro away. “Let’s give Jiro away,” Satchel said. “Why would we do that?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he replied. “Who would we give him to?” I asked out of curiosity. “That lady at the restaurant sure seemed to like him,” he replied.