In Pursuit of the Elusive “Paignton Thai Place”
[This is one in a series of blog posts written by Charlotte the Intern. Tune in daily to find out about what she’s been up to, what she has been learning about, and all of the crazy things she does as part of the Manna from Devon team.]
In my past life, I must have been Thai. I absolutely love Thai food. The flavors are strong, yet balanced, melding together in a way that makes it so hard to pick out what exactly each one is. I love the salty, briny taste of fish sauce, the sweet earthiness of coconut milk, and the fatty satisfaction you get from peanuts. And don’t even get me started on lemongrass. You could serve me lemongrass soup every day for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t complain. I promise.
But I haven’t been able to eat much Thai food over the last year. There isn’t a Thai restaurant in my small city in Italy, and finding the ingredients isn’t easy. Even if it were, I’ve never done any Thai cooking, and any attempts to replicate my favorite Tom Yum soup would certainly not resemble anything like the stuff I used to get at the tiny Thai place down the street from my office in Washington (although now living with David and Holly has made me feel like picking up a Thai recipe book is just as accessible as picking up an Italian one).
It would be overdramatic to say I’ve been deprived. But who doesn’t like a little drama now and again? So yes, I’ve been deprived!!!! I had been hearing rumors that there was a wonderful Thai place in Paignton. I was hopeful, but hesitant, my weak, deprived heart not able to handle too large a disappointment. Would I be able to try it? Would this mysterious “Thai place” live up to the hype? Finally, last week, I ventured out there. And I’m so glad I did.
Jasmine’s is a small, unassuming place, with about six unadorned tables that sit next to an open kitchen. This means that you will probably leave with clothes smelling like frying food, but it also means that you get front row seats to the amazingly orchestrated Thai kitchen. One woman stands behind the stove top, deftly scooping ingredients into a wok and tossing them with the confidence that only comes from years of experience. We ordered an appetizer sampler, as choosing was just too hard, which gave us Thai fish cakes, chicken satay, sesame prawn toast, spare ribs, crispy prawns, and spring rolls. I then ordered a prawn Tom Yum soup, followed by pork stir-fried in garlic with onion and pepper, and topped with more crispy garlic. All of it was excellent, perfectly cooked and flavorful, with exactly the right amount of heat that you want from good Thai cooking.
As you’ve probably guessed, the garlic scent that enrobed me by the end of this meal wasn’t winning me any friends, but I didn’t care. It was worth it. I highly recommend Jasmine’s for anyone who, like me, has a Thai craving that just can’t be kicked. It is delicious, and affordable. What’s more? It’s BYOB, meaning you can save on alcohol (and most likely spend more on food). What’s not to love??
To go there:
Jasmine’s Thai Restaurant: 59A Winner St, Paignton (reservations almost certainly necessary: 01803 556656)