Jasmine Chinese Restaurant

It’s difficult to imagine the pleasant setting you’re entering. Located in the heart of the Night Bazaar, the Jasmine Chinese Restaurant in the Royal Princess Hotel is removed from the noise of the traffic below, a lovely choice for lunch or dinner. No bright red and gold here, the restaurant, located on the second floor, or mezzanine of the hotel, is tastefully decorated with Chinese statues and symbols. Several private dining rooms offer Jasmine’s menu in a less public setting, perfect for birthdays or other parties.

Jesda Ketsuwanwatthana, Food and Beverage Manager, greeted us at the door. The music was bright but not intrusive. We were delighted to review the menu, although our lunch was pre-ordered. We began with dim sum, which is offered in a special dim sum luncheon every day. The dim sum is individually tailored; we had vegetarian dim sum, dim sum for seafood lovers, dim sum for those who prefer only meat, dim sum with only the freshest of ingredients. Jesda led us through the dim sum, which sauces to use, what the ingredients are. We struggled occasionally with our chopsticks, resorting to our fingers from time to time. But we loved the dim sum. The sauces made it all the more delicious and personal as we chose our own bites, depending on the dish.

Chef Namchia, who has been with the Royal Princess since it opened twenty years ago, assured the consistency of all of the dim sum dishes as well as the incredibly delicious Peking Duck. A year ago we joined border liaison officers from six countries in this feast. Those from China pronounced it “amazing, the most delicious Peking duck we have ever eaten, not served in our country”. The duck skin arrived on a special platter. Cucumbers and peppers were arranged like Renaissance medallions, with the crisp duck skin laid out on the platter like trophies. Wedges of green onion and cucumber were displayed on a separate dish, and sweet, thick soy sauce accompanied it. Peking Duck is a pancake dish, a fajita dish, a crepe dish. Every society seems to have a fabulous bit of meat tucked with spices and veggies into a wrapping. The Chinese have Peking Duck, laid out on a rice flour pancake, the skin decorated with green onion and cucumber bits, then lightly doused with sweet, thick soy sauce, rolled up and eaten. It takes all day to prepare a duck for this dish. That’s why most menus read “must be ordered 24 hours in advance.” Jasmine has so many orders that time limits are not noted on their menu. The Royal Family is often among its guests. Sometimes not one, but two, ducks are ordered up the mountain to the palace. We were thrilled to be there.

Deep fried duck meat and a spicy sauce followed the crispy duck skin crepes. This was a good contrast to the crepes. Then a thick soup of mixed seafood and noodles arrived, and we were mesmerized. Yum. A great contrast to the duck. We slowly lifted the noodles to mix them with the seafood. The taste was delightful. No meal at Jasmine would be complete without a tasting of their Crystal Prawns. Ours were enormous, clear and crystal-like, fresh and just delicious. The sauce that accompanied them reminded us of nothing more than “fresh”. There was no fishy taste, no hint of age. These prawns were fresh!

Our lunch ended with Chinese beans in hot ginger syrup. This dish is renowned for its health benefits as well as its taste. I’d choose it again. We never got to the abalone; we never even thought about bird’s nests or shark’s fins. We just tried the best, the Peking Duck.

Soups begin at 100 baht. The Peking duck is 650 baht but serves four; the crystal prawns are 400 baht for the small serving. Jasmine is an elegant restaurant for a special occasion, whether an anniversary, a birthday or the celebration of guests in the Kingdom.

Jasmine Chinese Restaurant at the Royal Princess Hotel, 112 Chang Klan Road, Muang, Chiang Mai, telephone 053-281-033-43, email [email protected], website www.dusit.com. Open seven days a week from eleven until eleven. Limited parking is available at the hotel.