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Jasmine in East Watertown Last Night

hiddenboston | Mar 13, 2008 06:52 AM

Thanks to everyone for suggesting this place over the past day or two. It sounded so intriguing that we actually made a quick change of plans last night (we were originally thinking of going to Patou in Belmont), ending up at Jasmine instead.

Jasmine is a bit smaller than I had thought it would be, with only about 5 or 6 tables, one of which literally abuts a huge wide-screen TV. Our waiter was quiet but very gracious and appreciative of our being there. We started with the Persian soup (and some Persian tea that had cardamom in it). It was mild, with lots of healthy items including mint, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and lentils. I used some ground sumac (which was in a shaker on the table) to boost the flavor a bit, but it was probably tasty enough without doing so. We were given pita bread with a small side of their smooth, silky hummus just before the soups came out. Like others mentioned earlier, their version of hummus is unique--I don't think I have ever had such a buttery hummus like this. Not sure how they make it, but it was very good.

For the main course, we tried the chicken shawarma and the vegetarian plate. The shawarma was simply awesome, with kabob-style pieces of chicken marinated in several spices (including cardamom and sumac), thrown onto a flame, and served next to a side of hummus and a bed of basmati rice. The flavor that came out of the chicken can only be described as sharp and strong, but in a good way. As for the veggie plate, the grape leaves were tasty though a bit limp, the hummus was silky and smooth, the falafel patties were meaty and delicious (if a bit greasy), and the basmati rice with barberries and saffron (which I substituted for the regular rice) and the Persian salad were decent enough.

We had no room for dessert.

Total cost was about $40 plus tip, which is about average for this kind of meal, I'd say.

Overall, I was very pleased with this little restaurant. The shawarma absolutely kicked butt (to use a culinary term), and the hummus, while perhaps a bit too silky and rich, was surely an interesting dish. I'll probably go back over the coming weeks to do takeout, probably trying the baba ghannoush rollup, the beef kabobs, and/or the beef stew with kidney beans.

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