Between chopping my hair off and then chopping even MORE off, I finally checked out Jasmine Thai in Brandon, Florida, a restaurant that came highly recommended by a few vegan pals of mine. And folks, I think I'm in love.
Jasmine Thai is a little restaurant located in a strip mall near the Aldi and some grotesquely-named chicken joint named Chick-N-Bones (BARF), which prompted a brief discussion on other horridly-named meat-focused restaurants, which always brings Rib Crib to mind. (I can't help but imagine an actual crib made from ribs, which is like something out of either a horror movie, or something set in the Stone Age.) Ground Round is another gross one. Makes me think of a merry-go-round made from raw hamburger meat.
GOD, WHY I AM TALKING ABOUT THIS???
Moving on! Jasmine Thai, which is simply and pleasantly named, has an impressive menu with plenty of veg*n options in almost all categories. When I spotted tempura eggplant under Appetizers, it instantly made me think of the Crispy Eggplant at Bo Ling's, my favorite Chinese place in Kansas City. It didn't take much for me to convince my dining companion to split it with me, and I am pleased to say that the tempura eggplant is just as good, if not better, than the Crispy Eggplant in KC.
Greasy, crispy outside gives way to the warm and squishy eggplanty insides. Isn't fried food grand?
I was so tempted to try something different at Jasmine Thai, as there were many enticing entrees on the menu [Garlic & Black Pepper stir-fry, Cashew Nuts stir-fry, Japanese Squash curry, Pineapple curry], but to gauge a Thai restaurant's deliciousness and returnability (a word I just made up, which means: how likely I am to return there), I knew I had to go with my favorite, my old reliable, my Old Faithful, if you will: Panang Curry with tofu. As mild as possible, please.
Panang curry is generally the same everywhere you go, but you know every place makes it just a liiiittle bit differently. As I waited for my dish to arrive, I wondered, How mild is "mild" by this place's standards? Will this make my nose run? Will there be enough vegetables? I wonder what the tofu will be like. Tofu is so important. I wasn't worried about it, though. I had a good feeling about this curry.
And my expectations were met. Deliciously.
The curry was perfectly mild and did not cause a single sniffle or watery eye. It was smooth and creamy and perfectly peanutty. The tofu was also the perfect texture: firm and not greasy-deep-fried-crispy. Of course, there are never enough vegetables for me, but this was good enough.
Dining Pal got the Amazing dish with tofu, another peanutty dish. The peanut sauce was great! (But I liked my Panang better.) I was a little jealous of his broccoli, though.
So, in conclusion, I have a new favorite Thai restaurant in Tampa Bay. Now this really feels like home.