Mum, Stepdad and I were heading back from the Cherry Blossom festival in Auburn and decided to have lunch at Jasmine 1 afterwards. It was early in the day, about 11am on a Saturday, but the restaurant was filled with lots of people already. As a casual restaurant, the ambience here was loud and noisy.
Within minutes of coming in, one of the waitstaff had come and was setting down plates of food at our table, which included hummous, lebanese bread and various other dips. It was so soon after being seated that we hadn’t even been given menus yet. I was about to begin eating when my mother and stepfather said that we hadn’t ordered yet. To this, the waiter looked confused and asked again if we hadn’t ordered, to which we affirmed. The glorious plates of dips and bread were then promptly taken away, much to my dismay. We were then brought copies of the menus, which offered many choices, making it difficult for me to decide.
Being a relative newcomer to Lebanese cuisine (I’ve eaten the occasional kebab, but haven’t tried many Lebanese restaurants) I had no idea how large the servings here would be. Due to this, I ordered an entree, as well as a main, and in addition to that, helped myself to my stepfather’s food.
I have a penchant for trying uncommon foods, and it was instinct to go for the Raw Kebbeh, which is raw, minced lamb meat, blended with herbs and wheat and doused with olive oil. I usually find the taste of raw meat pleasant, but the raw kebbeh gave me a queasy feeling. It was served cold, and I found it overpoweringly oily. I had a few bites and gave up eating it.
The hummous and tabouli I ate here were probably the best I’ve ever had in my life. The hummous was smooth and creamy, with olive oil bringing out its subtle flavour. Tabouli is a simple salad of finely chopped up parsley, tomato, and shallots, with olive oil dressing and lemon. Mother liked the simplicity and tanginess of it.
When I saw the size of my main after it had been brought out, I instantly regretted ordering the kebbeh as an entree. The Mixed Plate ($17) was large enough to share as a main between two people. One look at it, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it at all.
The mixed plate was a generous serving of one lamb skewer, one kafta skewer, grilled chicken pieces, with baba ghanouj, garlic dip, hummous and falafel. I love Middle Eastern meats, and meat in general, but my stomach didn’t feel the best after the raw kebbeh, so I picked at the meat half-heartedly, while devouring the falafel, and dips with vigour. The grilled chicken was my favourite of the meats on this platter. The baba ghanouj, just like the hummous, was smooth, creamy and doused with olive oil.
The lamb skewers were topped with onions, parsley and spices. The meat was thick and succulent, and paired excellently with the garlic dip.
Jasmine 1 has many strong points, which include: fast service and serving of food, affordability and generous, as well as delicious servings. These reasons make it a popular restaurant and have also ensured my return in future.