One Asian restaurant giveth, and another taketh away.
First the good news: Jasmine is a fine new restaurant on Rte. 202 (in the shopping center that also holds Pier 1 Imports and Staples). Im usually wary of pan-Asian places, since they typically tend to do none of the cuisines well, but this one appears to be doing a pretty reasonable job. Ive eaten lunch there twice so far and had one very passable Pad Thai (my test dish for Thai competence) and one somewhat uninspired duck noodle soup (the duck was very nice, but the broth was bland and only one type of vegetable was included). The place also has a small sushi bar and offers Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese dishes. They have a very reasonably priced lunch menu. The space is quite pleasant, more like a minimalist Japanese restaurant than red-lantern Chinese. This is a very welcome addition to the Wilmo dining scene, especially since its right near my office and does a nice lunch!
Now the bad news: In the past, Ive been a big proponent of Asian Palace, on Rte. 202 in the Independence Mall shopping center. This place has always had well-prepared and interesting Chinese food, far better than the other nearby options available. The downside was the fairly high prices--which have gotten higher over the last year or so--and the presence of the guy who owns the place. This man has earned the nickname the Chinese Nazi (although hes not Chinese his wife, who does the cooking, is) due to the extraordinary number of rules and regulations governing meals at the restaurant. There are ubiquitous signs forbidding smoking, children who need high chairs, use of the restrooms by non-patrons, use of credit cards for checks under $15, and most critically, cell phones. The Chinese Nazi enforces all of these rules (plus other unwritten ones) with an iron hand. The other day, my friend and I finally saw him go completely over the edgetwo women came in, waiting for two more friends to join them, and after a minute ones cell phone rang. The Chinese Nazi absolutely lost it. In two seconds, he had leaped over to their table, literally shouting at her to stop using the phone and berating her for her insensitivity in not following the rules and regulations laid down for restaurant patrons. He ranted on for quite a few minutes, in an absolute rage. His reaction was so over the top that my friend and I, the only other diners in the place, were utterly shocked and could barely finish our food. Naturally, the two horrified women left immediately, and the restaurant lost a potential four-top that would have been the only table occupied once we left. That was it for us, too. Weve been frequent patrons of Asian Palace for the last five years, but after this, we wont go back. Weve seen the restaurant get emptier and emptier over the years, and it seems pretty clear why. I am sorry to lose the fine cooking of the female half of this couple, but the potential of having to endure another blow-up from her husband is not worth the trouble.