Eating Out: Jasmine in Cooper-Young

After hearing good things about Ben Vaughan's new El Diablo in Cooper-Young, Tony and I decided to check it out Wednesday evening. Unfortunately, the day's rock and roll storms shut down power in parts of Midtown. El Diablo was closed, so we shifted gears and opted for Thai food at Jasmine located in the next block.

When a restaurant has been consistently good for two decades, it's easy to overlook it when thinking about where to eat. Here's a little advice: Don't forget Jasmine. The restaurant is easy and comfortable, the food is excellent, there are many vegetarian dishes, and if you're lucky, you'll get to chat a little with chef Justin Fong.

Fong stopped by our table to explain what was in the dim sum dipping sauce (wine vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger among other things) and then reemerged from the kitchen a few minutes later to show us how years of cooking have shaped the imprint of his thumb on the wooden handle of his wok ladle. We were charmed.

Our happy feelings continued through dinner: crispy dim sum stuffed with ground chicken, pork, and bok choy followed by House Lad Na ($10.95), a satisfying bowl of drunken noodles with beef, chicken, black beans, broccoli, peppers, and bamboo shoots. Tony ordered Pork with Hot Green Peppers ($11.95), a spicy stir fry with enough jalapenos to provoke, as he said, smiling, "a good Thai sweat."

Jasmine Vegetarian and Thai, 916 S. Cooper (725-0223

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