Friday, April 18, 2014

Restaurant Review: China Restaurant Jasmin, Sembach

China Restaurant Jasmin
Address: Kaiserstrasse 20, Sembach
Phone: 06303-2794
PDF of menu available here
Small parking lot next to the restaurant
Dine-in, take-out, and party rooms available

Last year, a friend and I biked to Sembach for the town's kerwe celebration. We noticed a Chinese restaurant that was closed up but was still set up inside as if waiting for the next meal. I believe it had been closed for quite some time at that point.

I recently heard that the restaurant re-opened so a group of us tried it for lunch. The menu is rather extensive with Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. Soups, including the familiar egg drop soup, are in the 3 euro range, as are salads and appetizers. The extensive menu continues with duck, beef, chicken, seafood, pork, and even vegetarian offerings on the portion of the menu with Chinese dishes. The Vietnamese portion of the menu is smaller but also offers vegetarian, meat, and seafood options. Main dishes run from 6-13 euros. There is a daily lunch special that includes a main dish and either peking soup or mini egg rolls in the 7 euro range. There were some desserts, as well, and some day I'd like to try the fried ice cream.

The menu was so big that we had a difficult time deciding what to eat. I was immediately drawn to the Vietnamese portion of the menu and chose "Bun Cha Gio," which is rice noodles with lettuce, carrots, soy bean sprouts, mint, peanuts, and lime dressing. When it arrived, I did a double take at the huge bowl of noodles. It came with a side of sweet and sour sauce that was surprisingly salty, which would later become the theme of the meal for some of our diners. The bowl was presented in layers: the bottom layer was lettuce and carrots; the middle layer was the rice noodles; and the top layer included peanuts, cilantro, and these delicious fried spring rolls cut into bites. On the menu it was noted that there would be mint, but I didn't notice any. I don't know if they were out of mint and used cilantro instead or if they meant to write cilantro instead on the menu. To be honest, I liked the cilantro in this dish and probably would prefer it over mint. I thought that the spring rolls on top were especially delicious. They were quite crispy. I enjoyed my dish and would order it again.

Bun Cha Gio
My friend C. ordered "Mi Xao Don," a Vietnamese dish which is crispy baked noodles with chicken, beef, shrimp, and vegetables. It was a huge plate of food, for sure! She enjoyed it as well and would order it again. I tried one of the noodles and enjoyed its very crisp texture. It's not as crisp as a chow mein noodle, but it is a stiff noodle that does soften a bit as it absorbs the sauce.

The guys ordered from the Chinese side of the menu. Those dishes were exceptionally salty! They let me try the sauce on their dish and I felt as if my mouth had been coated in salt.

E ordered what I believe was the "Eight Treasures" dish, with cashews, chicken, beef, shrimp, and vegetables served in a spicy sauce with rice on the side. It wasn't super spicy by our reckoning, but did have a bit of spice to it. I was shocked at how salty the sauce was. E asked me to share his take on the proportions of meat: mostly vegetables, 80% beef, 1 chicken piece, and 3 shrimp. I'm a bit amused by him sharing that as he starts with percentages then moves onto pieces.

Eight Treasures
The other two guys ordered dishes with meat and vegetables in a soy sauce. They also remarked how salty the dishes were. As J said, his tofu and vegetable dish was "crazy salty."

A. had ordered an egg drop soup. When he received it, he was surprised. It looked as if the cook had fried up a clump of eggs and dumped it into the soup instead of trails of eggs cooked swirled into the soup. It also had fresh mushrooms. He didn't care for the soup, but I think it was more of a texture issue for him.

J. ordered some jasmine tea and we were impressed to see that was made from fresh herbs. We did have a giggle because he kept complaining about having to try not to swallow the herbs, only to find out that he needed to remove the filter with the herbs before drinking!

Remove the filter/infuser (on left) before drinking!

The waitstaff were very pleasant and attentive, too. During our visit, we spoke German and English with them. The restaurant itself looks fresh and well-maintained with Chinese decor. It definitely doesn't look like a place that's been shuttered for quite some time!

So, in reviewing our experience, I'd say that it no one was unhappy with his food. Those with the Chinese meals felt that the food was quite salty but beyond that enjoyed their dishes well enough. The ones who had ordered the Vietnamese dishes liked them quite a bit and would order them again. As one of the few restaurants even near Sembach that is open for lunch, it's worth a try.

Plus, who can resist this smiling face?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your detailed blog entry. In April, we reopened our restaurant in Sembach. We hope that you enjoyed your meal together with your colleagues and hope that you are coming back very soon.

    Your China Restaurant Jasmin Team